Monday, October 11, 2010

Today's buzzword: Organization with a Z

I was listening to a football inspired podcast today, like I typically do to and from work. The pundits were discussing how to prevent a team from scoring early; and as a manager how to get your team to come out to defend against this. They didn't really have an answer, so I thought I'd throw my two cents into the discussion.
As a coach (I coach youth football and work with players 10-14) it can be incredibly frustrating to give up a goal within the first five minutes. But how do you keep a team from going 1-nil up early on?
Unless you're completely over matched talent-wise the basic way to keep teams from scoring early is to have your team organized. In football, organization can be the biggest factor between getting a result and going home empty handed. Teams such as Chelsea and Barcelona have great players, however, they win because of the organization and detail that is put into their teams.
Liverpool is a team that has (arguably) more talent than Blackpool. However, Blackpool came in better organized and with a better game plan. Thus, overwhelming the Reds and winning 1-2, and heaping the pressure on Liverpool who is now a relegation contender.
Italian football has always put a great emphasis on setting up a team on the pitch, who does what and when they do it. This attention to detail has been the catalyst to 16 Italian teams playing in the European Cup/Champions League final between 1982 and 2010. That is 28 years!
I know many will say, "Okay, organization, but what does that entail?" Simply put organization, to me, has to do with a team's formation, where their movement takes them offensively and defensively and tactically how do they line-up (will they defend in numbers or will they all-out attack).
The USA's lose to Ghana in the 2010 World Cup is an example of a team's organization being quite poor. The team was set up in a 4-4-2. An extremely rigid 4-4-2. With this formation the midfield would move forwards and backwards together leaving either large gaps between the midfield and backline (thus giving no cover to the central midfielder who advances) or gaps between the midfield and strikers. This was evident when Ricardo Clark lost the ball in the midfield resulting in Ghana's first goal. Their was no one within 20 yards to close down the Ghana player once he picked up the ball.
Some better organization from the coaching staff and this may not have happened. There may have been cover for Clark who would have immediately closed down the Ghana player with the ball.
Organization will not always win out, however, it puts you in a better situation to get a result. In closing, remember last season's Champions League Semi-final 2nd leg. Barcelona and Inter Milan at the Nou Camp. Barca absolutely hammered Inter from the kickoff. But Inter prevailed, why? Because of the team's defensive organization preached to them by the master of organization Jose Mourinho. Thus proving the most talented team doesn't always win. But it sure helps.

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