In the modern era, wingers can be as vital to scoring goals and creating chances as any other position on the pitch. Elite superstars like Mohamed Salah and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have illustrated this to a tee this year, for both their goal scoring prowess and chance creation supremacy. But most young players aspiring to be the world's best struggle to see the finer details of exactly how the likes of Salah and Kvara find themselves in those scoring positions. With that, we break down how to move off the ball like a world class winger, with real examples from the likes mentioned above, in addition to Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Alex Morgan.
Category: Player Education
The art of staying onside
The art of timing runs effectively as a forward is never an easy task, as it requires adequate scanning of the four pillars to the game: ball, opposition, teammates and space (BOTS). Most notably, the timing of the run has to match the timing of the pass from their teammate, and the timing of the movement from the opposition defensive players up or down. Both of these factors often remain out of the control of the centre-forward, and so it is not entirely their fault for an inability to stay onside. However, with proper scanning and adjustment, offsides can be avoided almost entirely.
Game of Numbers #11 – How to dribble like Jude Bellingham
Without Jude Bellingham, where would Borussia Dortmund be right now? They've been missing Marco Reus, Mats Hummels hasn't been up to pace (literally), and all the newboys haven't quite hit the ground running as expected (perhaps Salih Özcan aside). This has meant that Jude Bellingham has needed to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders, getting on the ball at every turn to work his magic.
Explaining the Target – Player Role Analysis
Historically known as the 'Target Man', we've rebranded this term to be all encompassing. More than just about any role, the word 'Target' immediately paints a picture of the type of player we're looking for. That is, someone strong, typically tall, aerially savvy, robust, and frequently used by their team as a target for advancing up the pitch. In the hockey sense, they would typically be the one responsible for 'roughing up the opposition'
How to organize the defensive line as a goalkeeper
With a wonderful view of the action, goalkeepers must be more than just shot stoppers, and participate actively and vocally in communicating with their mates. They should not be solely responsible for organizing the entire team, but have the ability to do so through the vantage point they have on the field, and often the fearless nature they behold. I've often found that some of the best communicators that I coach are in fact goalkeepers. But before answering the question, let's first discuss whether or not it is actually necessary for the goalkeeper to organize the defensive line.
Explaining the Creative Link – Player Role Analysis
Creative Links are quite similar to our attacking midfielder persona - the 'Creative Ten'. The main difference is that they play up front, and typically conduct more of their play with their back to goal in linking up with their teammates. You could call them a 'False 9', a playmaking centre-forward, or something between a '9' and a '10.'
Explaining the Channel Runner – Player Role Analysis
Channel Runners are one of our most unique prototypes, based off the common phrase used for strikers that "run the channels". They typically exist in a front-two, and in teams that intermix moments of counter-attacking football with quick and incisive long passes over the top. The use of a striker in this manner remains a more common approach to life in the women's game, as strikers across all realms are becoming more versatile (and advised for that matter) in dropping into build-up play to receive the ball.
Explaining the Direct Goal-Scorer – Player Role Analysis
When on their day, 'Direct Goal-Scorers' can be some of the most entertaining footballers to watch, with a sense of raw intensity beating inside their heart every step of the way. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has shown everyone exactly that this season at Serie A leaders Napoli, but the likes of Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry have demonstrated their goal-scoring exploits for years.
Explaining the Dynamic Dribbler – Player Role Analysis
Throughout this series, we've endeavoured to avoid player types signified by a single set of actions and statistics. The 'Dynamic Dribbler' is one of the rare exceptions, as the art of 'dribbling' is an essential way for wingers to enact magic on the pitch, and become the magic wand sorcerers that we all know they can be. Here is our analysis of the 'Dynamic Dribbler', and their importance on the pitch.
The multiple layers of Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the best right-backs in the world of football, and possibly one of the greatest the Premier League has ever witnessed. So for all the extremities that he accomplishes in attack, it becomes very normal for fan-bases across the globe to try and poke holes in his game and conjure up reasons that go against his greatness.
Why Erling Haaland scores so many goals
Let's not get overly simplistic about this. Erling Haaland is the best footballer in the world at the moment. But how he scores so many goals can be scrutinized in far greater depth than simply saying he's an alien. So with that, here is our latest analysis on the great Erling Haaland, and how he scores so many incredible goals.
Explaining the Inverted Winger – Player Role Analysis
Unlike their name might imply, 'Inverted Wingers' are far more than just wingers that cut or drift inside. That is only one small part of an overarching role that prioritizes playmaking in the final third, and dynamically linking play between the other members of the front-line. The best of the art will often post high numbers in goals and assists, but 'Inverted Wingers' need to be so much more than just creative goal-scorers - generally tasked with creating space, rotating with teammates, and moving off the ball to exploit the half-spaces at the right moments.
Finding your fit as a player
Even if a coach has not clearly communicated how they see the player fitting into the grander scheme, any footballer can come to a realization about the type of role they fulfill for their team and how they work as part of the team to achieve success on a grander scale, beyond just the individual facets of their game.