With the international weekend throwing up its own dose of excitement or misery I can’t wait for the return of domestic football this weekend.
Hopefully without too many players having been away with their countries, the squad will have had plenty of opportunity to get out onto the training field and work hard on the areas that Carlos and his staff feel need addressing.
When you have games coming thick and fast as you do in the Championship it can sometimes become increasingly difficult to do anything other than keep the players ticking over and work towards each game individually. When there is a bit of a break and respite from the continuous matches you can do more specific work. This can be done as individuals, with part of the team in what is known as phases of play, or even as a whole side where you can work on all manner of things like shape, defensive positioning etc.
This is where a manager and his staff earn their crust; putting across their wishes and effectively teaching the players how he wants them to play. Repetition, working off each other and learning as a unit is what it's all about, hopefully it then becomes second nature and this is taken into the forthcoming games.
Defensively we haven’t been as good this season as in the past couple of years and I believe this is as much down to confidence as anything else. A millisecond of uncertainty in making a decision can make what was the right defensive call suddenly become the wrong one, and it inevitably ends up in the back of your net. This chips away at your confidence and the vicious circle has started. That’s why you hear people talking about getting back to basics, doing the ordinary things well and concentrating on those basics and not much else. Once your confidence is growing again then all of a sudden you start making better decisions again.
When Wednesday play well, one of the biggest differences is the tempo that we play at. Against Leeds we played with a terrific pace; quick, sharp passing which was a joy to watch but most importantly for me was that we looked forward first. As a kid growing up and learning my trade, football was explained in a very simple way.
1. Can you shoot?
2. Can you pass to someone who can shoot or score?
3. Can you pass forward?
4. Can you pass to a teammate? etc etc
Too many times I feel we give up the opportunity to pass the ball forward early and choose to keep slow, methodical possession, which allows the opposition to get behind the ball and make it difficult for us to break them down. We are not alone in doing this. It is probably the biggest criticism of our national side of late as well.
I understand that confidence plays a part in this but this is where the work on the training ground should come into play. Playing forward early also gives you a better fluidity in your play if you can manage it and by play forward I mean passing it forward to a teammate, not just lumping it forward in hope.
A centre forward knows when to show, the ball is stuck into his feet and then you can play higher up the pitch and closer to the opponent's goal.
There is an old saying in football, “if you keep ignoring someone, then they will stop showing for you” and this is fact. There is nothing worse than this as a player and I have heard this comment from many managers over the years that I have worked under. It then becomes a little bit like the chicken and egg scenario. The forward doesn’t show because he isn’t getting the ball and yet the player on the ball will complain that the forward isn’t showing!