sabato 2 giugno 2012

Attacking football but with tactical discipline

Former Swansea's boss Brendan Rodgers has been confirmed as the new Liverpool. Rodgers will take Colin Pascoe as Assistant Manager, Head Match analyst Chris Davies and Physio Glenn Driscoll to Anfield. The Northern Irishman is prepared to give all Liverpool players the opportunity to be part of his long-term project. He will bring on a new brand of football. Questions is: how Liverpool will adapt to Rodgers' Tiki-Taka style? Rodgers learned his job in the youth ranks, at Reading and Chelsea, before start his work management at Watford. He had just a setback, at Reading, where he failed to bring away the kick and run style of play utilized by Steve Coppell to install a short-passing system. With the Swansea, Rodgers employed a unique 4-2-3-1 formation putting emphasis on short passes and control the tempo. 
“I like to control games. I like to be responsible for our own destiny. If you are better than your opponent with the ball you have a 79 per cent chance of winning the game…for me it is quite logical. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, if you don’t have the ball you can’t score.” (Rodgers)
Maintaining possession was a key of Rodgers' football philosophy in Galles. He's a Spanish Tiki-Taka football scholar. But Tiki-Taka it's also a way to defend: as Sid Lowe put it, “For Spain, defending starts with the ball. Put simply: If you don’t have possession, you cannot attack Spain. If they control the game, you cannot cause them problems. When you do get the ball back, there is an anxiety to do something with it immediately that it damages creativity…safety first is seen as hoofing the ball miles away. But it is safer to keep hold of it.” Rodgers’ methodology is similar. 
“Our idea is to pass teams to a standstill so they can no longer come after you. Eventually you wear them down. We did that against one of the greatest teams in Tottenham. We did it against Manchester United in the second half. In the first half we were playing the history. (Rodgers)
Keeping possession in deep areas is a risk but Swansea saved goals holding this tactic; retain the ball allow to don't give it away and avoid that the rivals could build an attack.The goal here is not concede possession. Swansea were third in the passing percentage over the 2011/12 season, with only 17% of their passes were completed in the final third of the pitch. Everyone is involved: maintain the possession starst from the goalkeeper.
”For us it was then the case of looking to get in the right type of goalkeeper. We needed one that was going to suit our style and Michel was one that was on our list. After looking at his style and his game I think his attributes suit us perfectly. He makes saves, which is important for a keeper. But for how we play, we like to build the game from behind, it is vital that the goalkeeper is comfortable with his feet…he is a player that not only does that but he controls the game well from behind and will help us construct the game from the back. He is very quick and very agile so he is similar to Victor Valdes at Barcelona. You will find nearly all Dutch goalkeepers understand and manage the game very well and he is a player that not only does that but he controls the game well from behind and will help us construct the game from the back.(Rodgers)
“When we have the football everybody’s a player. The difference with us is that when we have the ball we play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 and a goalkeeper.” (Rodgers)
Physically, Swansea was a small team so they wasn't suited to paly a direct football. But maintain the ball was a philosophy, not a need. All Rodgers' players was comfortable on the ball and they all pass the ball. This is why Rodgers likes to work with the ball every day in practices.
"I like teams to control and dominate the ballYou'll see in some of our exercises this morning, a lot of our work is around the transition and getting the ball back very quickly. Because I believe if you give a bad player time, he can play. If you give a good player time, he can kill you. So our emphasis is based around our positioning both with and without the ball. And for us, when we press well, we pass well. (Rodgers)
But Tiki-Taka football  requires a bit of time to be installed.  The transition isn't easy, such as AS Rome and Luis Enrique know. It needs of a lot of organization: one of the key points is that the initial formation matters nothing or so. The squad changes his pattern moving forward, in a fluid scheme.
“The example of the Barcelona model was a great influence and inspiration to me. When I was at the Chelsea academy, that was how my players would play, with that high, aggressive press, combined with the ability to keep the ball. (Rodgers)
“My template for everything is organisation. With the ball you have to know the movement patterns, the rotation, the fluidity and positioning of the team. Then there’s our defensive organisation…so if it is not going well we have a default mechanism which makes us hard to beat and we can pass our way into the game again. Rest with the ball. Then we’ll build again. (Rodgers)
Swansea were suited to play this brand of football because former managers Paulo Sousa and Roberto  Martinez both worked at the club utilizing this approach long before Rodgers. For Liverpool it will be a big move away from their traditional direct football. Since 1991, Liverpool has gone through several tactical changes:  from Graham Souness’ 4-4-2, to Roy Evans’ 3-5-2, to Gerard Houillier’s 4-4-1-1, to Rafael Benitez’s 4-2-3-1, back to Roy Hodgson’s 4-4-2 and Kenny Dalglish’s continous changes, direct football was a brand. Rodgers' appointment represents a change of direction. Swansea’s play last season was built on keeping possession from the back, with two centre backs spread wide to receive the ball from the goalkeeper. That requires technically gifted players. When the ball is lost, Rodgers wants his players ready to win the ball back immediately with the whole team pressing high up. Winning the ball back as soon as possible and quickly is the goal. This tactic forces the opposition to kick the ball away.
Rodgers will put also emphasis on set pieces situations, with the Swansea which scored 16% of their goals from those situations, utilizing tricks and special schemes. Those situations are studied by the Head Match analyst Chris Davies.

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