This following blog entry could in a way be viewed as a continuation to last month’s previous entry on Forward Defending. It was discussed how to position defenders higher up the pitch and what role they should implement as to still maximise the use of their defending abilities.
The below entry could easily be applied to the nagging question to Defensive Forwards or any team of limited attacking options; how exactly do we create chances to score?
For the more skilled players, creating chances in small sided football begins as soon as your side is back in possession. The athletic, quick, skilful strikers can have a field day in this format of football, as they use quick bursts of pace and acceleration to beat an opponent, precise one touch passing and a knack for finishing from anywhere in front of goal. However, for players who may not possess all (or any) of the skills above, may find their team employing some (or all) of the below strategies to goal:
Route One Football
The days of Wimbledon tactics, the long ball game; the hit and hope and route one football seems to have become less of a more accepted variation style of play to a more largely frowned upon bad habit by the Football purists. As much as some may argue that launching the ball from the back to the big guy up top gives hope that he’ll see the ball into the back of the net, it typically produces some of the dullest football for any spectators; surely at times frustrating for fans of Stoke City or Blackburn Rovers. West Ham United are currently being tortured by having to endure this style courtesy of Big Sam Alladyce, prompting the regular chants of “We’re West Ham United, we play on the floor”. Needless to say he’s stubbornly stuck with his philosophy.
Route One, in small sided football, requires a goal keeper with attention to not only what’s going on in front of him, but also on his attacking forwards in relation to his opponents positioning down the other end of the field. It is a fantastic opportunity to simply throw the ball up field in the hope that the striker will latch on it and ideally be presented with a 1 on 1 goal scoring opportunity with the opposing keeper. The ideal striker for this will be a tall target man, able to win the aerial challenge and maybe hold the ball up in order to lay it off for a teammate.
Building Attacks from the Back
If the previous blog was Forward Defending, this style of play would be Deep Attacking (which maybe we’ll revisit as a separate blog entry somewhere down the line). This is the complete opposite to Route One with the ball generally staying on the floor. Rather than the keeper hurling the ball up top, it requires rolling it out to feet to a nearby team mate. From here, rather than playing any sort of long ball, the deep players should be looking for the nearest possible pass, and in turn to provide the nearest possible passing outlet for any team mate in possession (see Barcelona or Swansea City). The idea here is to keep a hold of possession at the back, with short, quick, patient passing in order to frustrate the opposing players who are holding their positions. This will eventually lead to the opponents being drawn out of position, leaving an exposed spaced further up the field, allowing your team to get in behind the strikers / midfielders creating space to exploit the gaps which will have now appeared in midfield and allow you to supply assists for your most forward players.
|Drawing Opponents into your own third - creating spaces in behind to attack|
It also forces your opponents to chase the game, press higher up the pitch into your own third which in the long run should prove tiring for them, allowing your team to capitalise on this towards the end of the game.
There was always one kid at school, playing football in the playground, so intent on taking the glory of the goal than rather than even attempting to appear to be willing to get involved in play and help out in midfield, he would simply be quite content to stand in his opponents area, safe in the knowledge he was immune from any offside call, and be there to tap in the finish. As futile as this strategy might be in 11-a-side terms, in small sided football, with a team who are struggling to create chances, it may not be a bad idea. It does of course have its disadvantages of there being one less man to track back and defend when your team is under attack, but it does mean that there is always at least one passing outlet in a great position in front of goal for the entire game.
Gung-Ho – all out attack
Although, depending on how confident you felt, it would not be recommended to implement this strategy throughout the game. The time and place for this would be when in need of one precious point rescuing goal and only one minute left on the clock. Throwing everybody forward can create a very opportunistic counter attack which can’t be left unattended by the opponents and will force them to commit players to the back to defend. It does however leave you open to being caught out with one ball over the top and a speedy forward to outpace any defenders desperately tracking back.