Target Men are often seen as the bottom of the barrel centre-forward in terms of footballing ability. But increasingly, it's becoming more difficult to quantify 'Target Men', recognizing the vast skillsets they employ. The likes of Aleksandar Mitrović and Sasa Kalajdzic are easier to distinctly categorize as 'Target Men' for their physical, imposing frame that allows them to score headed goals for fun. But it becomes more difficult to keep the likes of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in that same specification, recognizing the vast array of traits they possess, particularly speed on the break. Target Men have historically been seen as slow, technically inept individuals who use their physicality, whether that be height or strength, to get one up over the opponent. But more and more, we are seeing an evolution of the 'Target Man' in 2022, to include a vast array of traits.
After finishing bottom of the table in 2021, Carlos Gonzalez has come into Atletico Ottawa and completely transformed the team into one of the most resolute, remarkable teams in the Canadian Premier League. In just half the games, they've won more matches than they did in the whole of last season, conceding the second least amount of goals in the league. Along the way, they've played one of the most tactically fluid and fantastical styles of football in the division, adamantly changing formation and player roles between the phases. Here is our tactical analysis of Atletico Ottawa's rise under Carlos Gonzalez.
When conducting analysis in any setting, it's important to ensure a balance is met, in every sense of the word. That includes considering and dissecting more than just the in-possession moments, and what the camera wants you to see on first glance. That includes considering both the positives and the areas of improvement, whilst keeping feedback constructive and actionable. It's difficult for an analyst to achieve all of the necessary components of an outstanding analysis in one big bundle, but balance must be met regardless of time or place as part of that package.
Devastated. Alejandro Diaz is one of the most exciting, flamboyant, energetic, tactically intelligent, heroic figures of the Canadian Premier League, and has been for the past few seasons since joining Pacific in 2020. It's amazing to see the Mexican forward achieve a massive move to Norway and their 1. divisjon. But Diaz helped build something … Continue reading Why Alejandro Diaz caught the eye of Sogndal Fotball
As goal-contributors, defensive warriors and midfield engines all wrapped up in one modem, 'Box to Box Midfielders' end up being some of the most imperative members of their squads. Unlike other midfield player types, they consistently catch the eye for their attacking performances, even when deployed in a deeper, defensive, 'number 8' role. The likes of Conor Gallagher, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Georgia Stanway perfectly encapsulate the role, helping us to qualify and quantify more of these 'Box-to-Box' engines in the future.
Leave it to Manchester City to always be doing something interesting from a tactical perspective. Tactics were bound to change at the Ethiad with a new striker entering the door. City even made strides to accommodate Erling Haaland by purchasing yellow shirts for everybody. But the real tactical change against West Ham United came out from the back, with the re-emergence of an old City favourite that quietly died down in 2021-22. In large part, Bernardo Silva's 'Bernardo Silva Role' meant that the City fullbacks were responsible for inverting less in build-up phases, as the Portuguese playmaker drifted toward the ball to help the Citizens break through central corridors instead.
In our latest analysis series: Game of Numbers, we break down the various tactical undertones of the modern game, most notably the roles that individual players hold on the pitch to help their teams explore avenues for greatness. Positions are often broken down into 'numbers' to describe the areas of the field that a player may operate. This series aims to illustrate the ever-changing, fluid nature of those roles, and the ways in which various footballing teams may use the same players in the same roles to completely different effect. This is Issue No. 1, featuring the following: Lucas Paquetá & The 'Bernardo Silva Role', Joachim Andersen's 'Quarterback' Role vs. Arsenal, and Musiala's Masterclass vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.
After a decade of Sean Dyche, Burnley have officially kicked off a new era with Premier League legend Vincent Kompany. The Clarets played admirably in their first Championship match since 2016, with a new set of tactics on full display. Kompany's bright start got off without a hitch - his team achieving a brilliant 1-0 victory over last season's Playoff Finalists. Here is our in-depth analysis of Burnley's 1-0 win over Huddersfield on the opening day of the 2022-23 EFL Championship season.
Keira Walsh is brilliant. You know it. I know it. And thanks to the Women's European Championships, the whole world knows it too. In today's masterclass, I dissect that brilliance in a long-form Player Analysis, helping you and I come to a greater understanding of how you too can play (or coach) with the brilliance of Keira Walsh. Here is our analysis.
The 'Deep-Lying Playmaker' is one of the already attributed player types that we have adopted within our system. Also known by its Italian name 'Regista', the 'DLP' is tasked with setting the tempo of the match from build up to progression, all the way to creation. They sit in front of the defensive line as an 'Anchor', but hold a more offensive, progressive and possession-oriented role than the other two 'number 6' types within our 'Anchor' persona. Their role is in both helping create space between the lines, and then breaking lines, recycling play, or even changing the point of attack upon receiving the ball, so that their team can advance up the pitch, beat an opposition's press and seek spaces closer to goal.
Anchors tend to play at the base of a midfield three, holding the midfield together, and allowing others to work their magic up ahead. Their role is in both screening in front of the defense to disallow progressive passes forward, particularly into the opposition's striker, and to 'anchor' the midfield by holding everything together as other members step out of position or drift into the half-spaces. Unlike the 'Midfield Destroyer' they do not need to be overly active in defensive phases on sheer statistical contributions, but should be equally active on the hard work done off the ball to shift, shuffle and slide with the play.
Arsenal's transfer business this summer has been shrewd and accomplished, and now after signing both Zinchenko and Jesus from the Sky Blues, Arsenal could very well be on their way toward building back toward Premier League title acclaim. Here is our analysis of why Zinchenko is perfect for Arsenal, and why the signing may be the start of something special for the Gunners in 2022-23.
Throughout his prestigious career, Jorginho has forever been criminally underrated. When moving to Chelsea under the influence of Maurizio Sarri, Jorginho repeatedly became the subject of media conversation over his role in not providing the same defensive gusto as N'Golo Kante, even though he was never meant to. The conversation sparked a new role for Kante that he still plays in to this day, where the Italian midfielder continues to operate as a quintessential 'Deep-Lying Playmaker' (DLP) for the team. Not only that, but it helped to reshape and restructure the conversation about defensive midfielders in the modern game, and the importance of finding players that fit together within a functional midfield unit. Chelsea have done a lot right over the past few years, but the balance they've struck in midfield between Kante, Jorginho and Kovacic has been one of the key highlights.
The game is deeply rooted in all five aspects of the common coaching model, and in fact, every decision a player makes boils down to all five elements simultaneously. Here's why the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of football are all deeply intertwined.
Nothing can exist in football without perceptions of ball, opposition, teammates and space (BOTS for short if you want!). While there may never be one unequivocally correct answer to any given footballing problem, players can more adequately assess for decision making through muscle memory, experience, automatisms, sheer intelligence, and studying the tips in this article. But those same players, analysts and coaches must also recognize the deeply-rooted tandem bike quadracycle nature of the four elements of the game, and how they all co-exist to work in harmony.
When it comes to analysis, it's no secret that the goal is to think on a deeper level, scrutinizing over the finer minutia beyond what you see at first glance. But it's also no secret that this skill takes dedicated time and energy to learn. A lack of deep tactical understanding about the game often comes at a cost to coaches and amateur analysts. They are adequately able to perceive events on a football pitch, but they may be unsure of how to change what they are seeing for the better, or even fully comprehend what they are seeing to the level required. Coaches in my Mentorship Program often ask me - "How do you go from seeing to understanding?" Well that, my friends, is what we're after today. In this series of notes, I'm going to give you a series of images and videos, where you can go from seeing, to understanding. If you've been doing analysis for years, no worries, this will still be an excellent way for you to practice and refine your skills.
As the name suggests, a 'Ball-Playing-Centre-Half' is a centre-back that excels in possession of the ball, from passing to long passing to carrying to dribbling. They can simultaneously exist as 'Sweepers' or 'Stoppers', providing another interesting asterisk to the role not found in many other positions. Unlike say a fullback or goalkeeper where we have created clearly defined separations and almost polarizations on a style scale, 'Ball-Playing-Centre-Halves' can also be 'Stoppers' or 'Sweepers'.
A wing-back, as the name suggests, is a full-back that operates up and down the wing, holding particular importance in attacking phases. They may contribute to the defensive side of the game, and they may even invert into central areas. But wing-backs do their best work down the by-line, where they can deliver crosses into the box, utilize their trickery and skill to go 1v1, and surge up the field through their dynamic pace and timing of movement into dangerous areas. Here is our latest Player Role Analysis.
After excelling for PSG in France, Canadian youngster Jordyn Huitema appears to be days away from making a return to North America, where she will ply her trade as an important member of OL Reign's attack. News broke on Thursday thanks to The Athletic's Meg Linehan, following Reign's recent signings of veteran Tobin Heath and Arsenal's Kim Little on loan. Expected to be more of a long-term signing to improve upon Reign's attacking horizons, Jordyn Huitema provides the perfect mix of pace and pizzazz to Laura Harvey's team. Here is why Jordyn Huitema could be set to ignite the NWSL on fire.
Fullbacks are not always the flashiest of players, nor do they garner the greatest attention, even despite their importance to creating and generating chances in the modern game. That is precisely why a system like our Role Continuity Evaluation System works on so many levels, as we are able to adequately assess the important characteristics to a player's performance, while minimizing the scrutinization over less important facets of the player's game. Within the system, we break down full-backs into three broad categories: 'Wide Warriors', 'Wing-Backs', and the topic of today's article - the 'Inverted Fullback'. So with that, we explain the tasks, functions and role of an 'Inverted Fullback' and outline some of the very best in the position in 2022.
This is not a headline that you would expect to see from a website so devotedly focused on tactics and analysis. But as complex and debatable as this may sound, football is more about psychology than tactics. The best coaches are not always the best tacticians. But the best coaches are always the best motivators. The likes of John Herdman, Emma Hayes, Jose Mourinho and even Jurgen Klopp, rarely ever speak about tactics when expatiating about the game. Instead, they pontificate about the psychology of their teams and players, and their attempts to get the best out of their mentality.
Off-the-ball movement is, of course, the most important facet to the game. But saying that all passing patterns or attempts to make decision making automatic are "stupid" fails to account for the fact that these things don't have to be trained in isolation. After all, if they were stupid, why would coaches like Jurgen Klopp or Ralph Hasenhuttl deploy them as training methods?
On Sunday July 31, 2022, Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson became the first non-Canadian player to make 100 appearances in the Canadian Premier League. As an integral member to the league's best side, Jönsson has arguably been the player of the season so far in the 2022 season, featuring in all but one match. What's more - he's played admirably in not one but two positions this season, splitting his playing time between the right-side of centre-back and defensive midfield. Here is an analysis of one of the CANPL's best players - 26-year-old Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson.
Each situation in football is unique, and that means every player must endeavour to scan the field at every turn, allowing for appropriate adjustments to each specific situation in the quest to properly perform the next action. But beyond the act of scanning the field, players must have a keen understanding of their own teammates' strengths and weaknesses.