We could have kept this to one line as we lost 6-0, which says it all really. But we need to reflect on this match and consider where things went wrong:
To win a football game you have to show intensity, tactical discipline, technical skills, physicality, create movement. Needless to say we showed none of that today. Of course, we won’t have bad games like this every Saturday but it’s important to take a look at what we did wrong through some of these aspects mentioned above. We did start with some intent, using the speed of Shane and Brendan up front to create danger. Progressively though, we started losing ground and conceding a series of corner kicks. We conceded the first goal on one such corner as we were unable to clear the ball convincingly when we had the chance. Ster’s kept the momentum and got a second goal, again from a quick corner that led to a penalty. Overall their players were first on the ball and their 3rd goal was a consequence of that – despite a bad kick out from Ster’s keeper that deflected high in the air by our interception, the falling ball was easily won by a Ster’s player who then launched a lethal counter attack… and so it went on.
Intensity depends a lot on attitude we bring to the pitch, you have to be ready to fight for the ball, close the gaps, find an extra gear when needed. If you don’t fight for the ball, you can’t use it. You can’t use it, it means the opponent has it and has the possibility to create danger. We have to fight for every ball, individually and collectively, to get the better of our opponent. This applies to every match.
Tactical discipline was also lacking today. Discipline in a football game is not only about behaving properly on a football pitch it is also about being concentrated on what you are doing on the pitch and what your opponents are doing on the pitch. When out of possession our positioning was poor and left wide spaces for Ster’s to play through us with ease. Maybe we didn’t go through the tactics well enough beforehand and players were not aware of their positioning and duties in a slightly new (but very well known) 4-4-2 formation. On set pieces there are differing opinions on zonal and man marking which leads to a bit of a mix, but so far that hasn’t worked too well for us as a lot of teams have created chances from corners and free kicks. The first goal was exactly that. For the second goal we weren’t sharp enough to pick up on the quick corner and that allowed them to get in a dangerous position to dribble and won the penalty. This needs more work and better leadership from all – don’t rely on a captain to shout, take responsibility.
Meanwhile, when in possession, our movement off the ball was non-existent for the most part and we weren’t providing options for a good pass to our teammates. Movement from those off the ball is the most important thing when you are in possession and allows you to create a platform to attack. To do this we have to do much better in making ourselves available for the pass and, crucially, asking for it, shouting for it, tell them where you want it, tell them you’re in space. You don’t make the call, you’ll never receive the ball. And if you just wait for the ball, chances are high the opponent will get the ball first if he anticipates the pass. This happened far too often when we were caught passing around defence and put under pressure, because there was no outlet available to get the ball moving forward. Small movements are sometimes all that are necessary to completely lose your marker and make yourself available, and often gives you the time then to pick the next pass.
As a defender, I always say it’s easy to defend against someone who stays in the same zone. It’s easy to read. For the moment we’re too easy to read. We combine on rare occasions but most of the time we have to resort to long balls since the opposition midfield and forwards are reading the options for a pass and cutting them out, putting us under pressure and forcing mistakes. In the midfield we need to ask the ball and if it means going close to defenders to receive the ball so be it, but we have to give options, as many options as possible, otherwise we cannot just criticise defenders for playing it long. The problem is not only the defenders it’s the whole team. We need to repeat and encourage each other to make those movements and find the space over and over.
I don’t have more things to say but only one: I believe in the quality of this group – what we need is to keep working together and stay humble. We are still a new group playing against solid teams with more experience as a collective unit.
To be continued…
FCI 3rd team faced good opponents today. We started very well, very intense and with a good impact in challenging for the ball and using it well when in possession. After some good passes through the middle, Jaime made the decisive pass to Shane, who used his speed to outrun the defence and scored. Second half was ours, we kept the ball and tried to create more opportunities but they defended well and stayed in contention. Final score 0-1. We showed a lot of character today which is exactly what was needed after last week’s disappointing result – keep this attitude and we’ll certainly start moving up the table.