venerdì 25 aprile 2014

Ryan Giggs' success is about man management

David Moyes defensive style was a key factor in his sacking by Manchester United and interim manager Ryan Giggs will have to fix it. Scot’s approach relying on defensive shape and constant crosses from the flanks were predictable. Moyes’s training methods also has been questioned for being lengthy and tedious. Players were accustomed to training with the ball under Ferguson while they were now being asked to improve their fitness in much more classic physically demanding training routines. But above all Giggs will have to take care of man-management. Coaching at higher level have a lot to do with man-management. It a clear fact as you have to deal with adult players that know what they want in terms of training and playing.  Giggs knows he has to be adaptable as he once stated. And man-management is an area to be improved and where Giggs will have to show this flexibility. Moyes' classe with players, notably Rio Ferdinand, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Chris Smalling, were well documented. Clearing out former coaching staff of Mike Phelan, Rene Meulensteen and Eric Steele and bringing in his lieutenants from Everton didn’t help Moyes to be accepted by Manchester Uited’s dressing room. Giggs will have to do better here than Moyes if he doesn’t want struggle. His first comments suggest he could be more of a man-to-man coach. That could be draw benefits for Manchester United’s players. A group of Premier League players is a hard crowd to deal with. They are critical of your training sessions and methods. Just ask to Paolo Di Canio, who struggled this season to run his way with less demanding players at Sunderland. Handling multi-millionaires with a big ego and managing every aspect of their needs, from contracts to their tactical requests - remember the famous Robin van Persie’s quote claiming that  team-mates was "occupying the spaces I want" - is a key aspect of the job. Andre Villas-Boas’ lack of flexibility and man management tools cost him the job with Spurs this season. What Giggs have to be impressive with is definitely man management.

martedì 22 aprile 2014

Is Simone Zaza the next Gianluca Vialli?

Between the forty-two players arrived to the national training centre at Coverciano last week to undergo physical tests in preparation for this summer World Cup, there was a couple to young men coming from a struggling side. Simone Zaza and Domenico Berardi both get their call-up for tests with Cesare Prandelli's Italy side Prandelli acknowledged in an interview with the newspaper Libero on Tuesday that he already had 18 names in mind for his 23-man squad. So it’s interesting to see which players might be battling it out for the remaining five open spots. There is going to be fierce competition for attacking places in the squad next summer. With players like Ciro Immobile and Antonio Cassano still unsure about their spots, Zaza will be hardly among them. He probably will have a better chance to get the call-up for the roster Prandelli will start to assemble looking to Euro 2016. By the way, Sassuolo’s forward is a player hard to overlook. Zaza showed flashes of his ability during this term. He has been effective playing as centre-forward or wide out for Eusebio Di Francesco and he’s one of the gifted forwards which have flourished this season. Zaza is a two-dimensional forward able to play into the box and wide open as well. His value is more than simply in scoring goals although the 22 year old forward provided 7 goals out from 29 appearances this season. The left-footed shot that found the net to give Sassuolo the lead and a pivotal point 1-1 at home against Cagliari another reminder of what Zaza can do. Another standout prospect gone through the Atalanta youth system, Zaza is a mobile, strong and quick forward that successfully integrates the prodigious starlet Berardi. Together with his left-footed teammate, Zaza has gone to form one of the rising and prominent attacking partnerships in the Serie A. Sassuolo’s hopes of survival go through the pair of Berardi and Zaza.  His pace and directness caught the eyes since his stint at Ascoli in Serie B 2012-13. After he ended the season scoring 18 goals, Zaza was brought and he’s now co-owned by Sassuolo and Juventus. Although Zaza isn’t a finished product, his tools generated a lot of excitement and comparisons have been made with Gianluca Vialli, former Sampdoria and Juventus forward who lead Blucerchiati to their lone Scudetto in 1990-91 and Bianconeri to their second Champions League in 1995-96. As Vialli at Cremonese, Zaza cut his teeth in a small club. As former Chelsea manager, Zaza started his Serie A career with not a big club, although with Vialli up front Sampdoria enjoied the most successful era in its history. Vialli is one of the 20 best attackers to ever played the Italian top flight so this is a demanding comparison for Zaza. While is not sure that Zaza will replicate Vialli’s highs, he surely started the long way towards achieving them.

lunedì 21 aprile 2014

Decision on Frank Farina's future expected

Sydney FC's  season is finally over after Melbourne Victory knocked them out with a 2-1 win. Frank Farina's tenure will came under scrutiny after his team put too much up and down. while fans across the country could wonder whether it has seen the last of Farina, the coach defended how the team had performed this season, suggesting they played better than the media and public think. Farina's future should be evaluated in term of results and performances. The problem for Sydney were  inconsistency. Let me explain it: Farina doesn’t give his team a clear identity as the Sky Blues’ season was a rollercoaster in term of shape and formation. Entering this pre-season thoughts was Sydney was ready to move to a 4-3-3 formation. But since the A-League season started, Farina abruptly moved to a 4-2-3-1 system featuring two midfielders sitting deep. With this formation, we have seen the No. 6 coming into a deeper position with the centre-backs splitting to have a three-man back line with an extra man in the buildup.When they faced Melbourne Victory on Australia Day, Farina switched to a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Terry McFlynn sitting at the bottom of the diamond and with Alessandro Del Piero up top. But when Sydney faced Melbourne once again in the A-League quarter-final, Farina changed again, coming back to the same 4-3-3 that earned his side two consecutive wins over Perth and Wellington, lining up Alessandro Del Piero as false nine. Farina seemed to have more belief and faith in principles than in tactical shapes as he tried to add an extra man in midfield at any coast, although it meant change his side’s formation any time. In effect,  Farina once affirmed that “99 times out of a hundred the game is won in the middle of the park”. Questions can be also raised about the way Farina utilized Del Piero. Although the great impact Del Piero had on and off the pitch for the A-League is undeniable, how he fitted into Sydney FC wasn’t clear. More a striker than a trequartista, Farina made him operating as a No. 10 between the lines of midfield and defence when Sydney was playing a diamond in midfield. Otherwise, we have seen Del Piero operating as wide left forward in a 4-3-3 formation as it happened in the game against Adelaide. At the end, as pointed earlier, Farina assigned the Italian a false nine spot. Former Juventus star was never Farina's pick. When Farina played Del Piero, Sydney defend with 10 men and didn’t play the "high tempo" style Farina spoke about when he get the job. The answer to these questions isn’t obvious and discussions have to be had.  However, Farina has been able to get out results although it didn’t eliminate the final question. In fact, while chief executive Tony Pignata once detailed the team’s expected football philosophy, suggesting that club favored a pro-active style of football, based on possession, Farina likes a more direct brand of football, with his team sitting deep and counter-attacking. If it goes along with team’s fans and board of direction football expectations remains to be seen.

martedì 8 aprile 2014

The Gombau way

Josep Gombau has been voted to take charge of the A-League All Stars for the game against Juventus in August. This is hardly a surprise after the recent run of good results as the Reds are playing the league’s most entertaining football. Still, in the beginning things was difficult for the Catalonian, as Gombau’s side went winless for eight games and some criticism was raised by players and fans to the former Barcelona youth coach's tactical thoughts, creating a hostile environment. It was difficult to understand what Gombau was doing and the philosophy he was implementing not just for people in Adelaide but for every football fan in Australia. Gombau’s focus is always on the performance first. The strict ball retantion and the high defensive line he was tinkered was something new at this latitude. Bringing a new football philosophy to a club needs time. With patience and tenacity, Gombau turned things out, installing his favorite 4-3-3 formation based on possession and attacking mentality. Reds want to win, and what they want is to attack, having the ball and playing an amusing brand of football. They have struggled a bit to counter sides sitting deep and playing on the counter but the Spaniard stayed faithful to his system. “This is the way that we want to win, if we win like this okay and if not we will keep trying”, Gombau said. “"What we want to do is create our own philosophy, our own style.” It started to pay off. Gombau’s playing style revolves around to dominate possession and it starts from their centre halves. The Reds like to start the build up from the back, getting the ball out from the defensive line to play it in between the lines or behind the opposite’s defense. It is when defending against Adelaide became more hard. If rivals allow Fabio Ferreira, Sergio Cirio and Jeronimo Neumann to attack the channels and the spaces over the back line, the Reds become dangerous. They are explosive and quick when facing the goal and running into spaces. Gombau was able to teach is way, building a team playing the style he wants and it is an indictment of his tactical acumen.

giovedì 3 aprile 2014

Oscar withdrawal and Ramires switch cost Mourinho the game

José Mourinho's defensive approach worked PSG…until he abruptly changed it! With no faith in Fernando Torres after his erratic performance at Selhurst Park, with Samuel Eto'o injured and with a lack of trust in in Demba Ba, Mourinho is clearly not happy with his strikers' performances, so he opted to play Andre Schuerrle as a false nine in front of a packed midfield featuring Ramires, David Luiz, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian. The duties were set with Ramires chasing Marco Verratti and Oscar covering Thiago Motta. This gave Blaise Matuidi enough freedom to become a factor on the left side. And in fact, Matuidi managed 64 passes with a 88% of pass accuracy and 4 crosses, having an impact in creation being involved in the first two PSG goals. The midfield three Mourinho selected suggests his idea was to contain PSG’s midfield trio, playmakers Verratti and Thiago Motta in particular. The game plan of shutting down both them worked nicely as they suffered Chelsea’s pressure and failed setting the tempo. Playing Luiz as holding midfielder helped too as the Brazilian made Zatlan Ibrahimovic ineffective when he was dropping deep to act as an advanced playmaker. So Chelsea were balanced defensively and the positional play from Verratti and Motta was under control until Mourinho elected to replace André Schuerrle with Torres and Oscar with Frank Lampard, switching Ramires into a right flank role.  It simply conceded Motta to play effectively as deep-lying midfielder and gave Verratti to become the playmaker he wasn’t allowed to be in the first half. With this formation on field, Chelsea showed all their inability and discipline to defend deep.