“Tracking back”


New Member
May 28, 2017
I keep hearing this being used. “We are not signing X player because he doesn’t track back”.

Forget the fact that most widemen have to track back, this is not just a 'defensive' thing people keep trying to make out.

When the team organises itself without the ball (bearing in mind we generally do not deploy a heavy press) our players set up in a certain way. In the case of the wide men it is not just about “tracking back” and “defending”. The wide men have to be comfortable picking the ball up in deeper areas, keeping the ball and helping create the transition when we regain posession.

How many times have we seen Mata in a deeper area down the right hand side? He NEVER loses the ball in these situations which allows us to begin a transition. The only problem is he does not have the pace and is not a real winger to penetrate through lines quicker.

There are talented wingers out there, but can they manoeuvre efficiently in a deeper area AND help with the transitions and counters? I would have a guess and say that younger players have more trouble with keeping possesion in their own half under pressure. Certainly, Jose is not picking Mata because he is a defensive player, I think we can all agree on that?

If you get it right you have good short passing and link play which turns into quick transitions and counters which SHOULD lead to bigger chances.


has never watched Star Wars
Jun 2, 2009
Generally speaking the best wide forwards excel at tracking back because it benefits their attacking game. It draws the opposition fullback forward, centrebacks then sit wider and a good transition offers more space to exploit and a chance to get up to full speed with the ball.

It’s why Martial infuriates me, it’s not that he’s not working hard for the team, it’s that he isn’t working hard for himself.


DUX' bumchum
May 10, 2009
Those words are Mourinho's safe words when his dominatrix is 'round the hotel.