Be Bold To Change

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Booking under: Nicole

I will keep the intro utterly short because a lengthy post is awaiting for you below.

Two giant blue teams faced pressing need for tactical change after a disappointing season start. Fortunately, they had one of the world’s best orchestrators in the house to drive these changes, for which they were changes for the better.

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Press It Hard

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Booking: Nicole

Summer is officially here! It’s that time of the year again when people rush to the gym to get in shape for all the water activities. While people ought to exercise all year round, let’s not forget the lonely gentleman up there and give him a round of applause for doing push up planking to strengthen the inner core. Such intensity training requires high level of discipline and a lot of practice.

The same attributes apply to football too, especially when it comes to pressing. Like many other football tactics, it does the team wonder if you practice it well. Otherwise, it can cost loads. Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte proved to the world that you need not dominate possession to win a game if you exercise counter-attack well; however, it is no surprise that winning a game means scoring more goals than your opponent and you need to have possession of the ball. But what to do when you lose possession?

André Villas-Boas is a strong believer of playing high block football. At Chelsea, he experimented this approach and demanded defenders to maintain a high defensive line so that they could push as advanced as possible when possession was lost. The problem with this was that opponents easily exploited the space behind the defenders and put them out of position, resulting in huge defeat against Arsenal and Manchester United. Villas-Boas’ wrong assessment on the approach cost him his job as Chelsea manager and was sacked only after 8 months in regime.

While Villas-Boas’ high block tactics did not click with Chelsea, the following managers’ pressing philosophy has brought their clubs to the next level.

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Spanish False Nine

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Booking under: Nicole

As Real Madrid lift their third Champions League trophy in a row, it marked the end of the 2017/18 season in the European continent. When Chelsea fans looked back the season, it was full of ups and downs. Although the disappointing loss to Newcastle kicked Chelsea out of top-four, the lads salvaged the season by beating United at the FA Cup Final. Other talking points persisted throughout the season include new signings like Alvaro Morata and Tiémoué Bakayoko failing to make an impact, rising tension between the club management and Antonio Conte, and Eden Hazard’s discontent to play as a false nine.

Deploying Hazard to play in such role was Conte’s tactical decision to support either Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata in a 3-5-2 formation. While Hazard felt like an isolated figure and not playing with his qualities, an ex-Chelsea player nailed the role of a false nine.

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Italian Invasion

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Booking under: Nicole

It has been an eventful weekend in the football world as there was news involving two remarkable and well-respected managers in the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson has undergone emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage and is now being taken care of at the rehabilitation center. Our thoughts are with him and we wish Fergie a smooth and speedy recovery. His adversary Arsene Wenger has bid a sensational farewell to Arsenal after the Gunners beat Burnley with 5 goals at home. 22 years of hard work and now it’s time to take a break and relax, Le Professeur!

Ferguson and Wenger together represented the beginning and golden era of the Prem. Since then, quite a few Italian managers like Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri (both with Chelsea) emerged in the 2000s and brought about new tactic focusing on flexibility and scalability. The Italian influence became more dominant when the following two managers joined the Prem and led their teams to win the top-flight title.

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A Wet And Windy Night At Stoke

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Booking under: Nicole

There are two touchline styles in the world.

Some managers like Jose Mourinho, Pep Guadiola, and Arsene Wenger are wearers of bespoke suits. Other manager like Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of club training gear. Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino are sort of in between as they are equally stylish and comfortable in either a tracksuit or a suit.

Tony Pulis‘s sartorial style is a level ahead of Kloop’s. As a Welsh old-school football manager, his tracksuit and baseball cap look earned him the name of the Father of Roadman. Indeed, wearing the same club badge gear has been his unique trademark for the past 15 years. The clothes you wear reveals your character and personality, and it’s not hard to decode Pulis’ managerial style from his unchanging wardrobe choice.

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England’s Golden Generation

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Booking under: Nicole

Over the past two weeks, we started an all-rounded discussion on two football tacticians, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benítez. Apart from their “defend first, attack second” mindset, another thing they have in common is having a star midfielder under their managerial reign at Chelsea and Liverpool respectively. Claude Makélélé and Xabi Alonso are pivotal to the clubs’ in the late 2000s and ….

Wait… before you pause reading, I know most of us have these two names in mind: Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. While Lamps and Stevie G. have excelled at club level and won a load of individual honors, the midfield duo failed to produce chemistry and bring England to the next level. The golden generation also featured Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, David Beckham, and Owen Hargreaves.

What has gone wrong?

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The Always Special One

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Booking under: Nicole

2004 was a special year, a year when I developed an interest (rare for most girls I know) in football and when the very special Jose Mourinho took charge of Chelsea after winning the UEFA Champions League Final for Porto.

2004 was also a special year at international level, as Greece shocked the whole world by lifting the Euro Cup after beating Portugal, with a headed goal. They did not concede a single goal in the knockouts.

The key commonality that the winning teams had was focusing on playing defensive football, a strategy that gradually grew popularity and was deliberately adopted by Mourinho. What was the Special One‘s winning formula to help Chelsea lift their first league title in 50 years?

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Invincibles & Convincibles

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Booking under: Nicole

Being widely recognized as the most influential home-grown defenders in the Prem history so far, these three Englishmen have enjoyed great success in individual club career both domestically and in the European continent. However, much to the England fans’ disappointment, they struggled to bring the national team to the next level at major tournaments over the past years.

While 2018 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner, what qualities and attributes can our young England defenders such as Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire learn from the senior?

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The Red Devils From Newton Heath

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Booking under: Nicole

Happy Chinese New Year! May the Year of the Dog be filled with joy, prosperity, and faith!

Red, the official color of CNY, is considered to bring good luck and fortune to everyone and ward off evil spirits. Red is also the home color of Manchester United. With Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League table stretched to 16 points, it is certainly a lot of work for Jose Mourinho’s side to close the gap (is it possible?) and recover from the defeat at Newcastle before clashing with Sevilla in the Champions League next week.

20 years ago, United won a treble of trophies in the 1998/99 campaign, marking their success in domestic and European history. Credit went to the players and of course, Sir Alex Ferguson and his tactical acumen too.

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