All Time Great Managers Draft --- write-ups thread

Synco

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This is the thread where write-ups, articles, footage about your managers, players & tactics will be collected. If it works we'll have something like this. (Some great examples on this page.)

You can of course post them in the match OP/discussions too. I'll copy stuff from the match threads to this one during the draft. Discussions about everything related to the historic originals and our draft teams are welcome in here.

(I'll do a proper OP at some later point.)
 

Šjor Bepo

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Why Tomislav Ivic?

Because he is probably the greatest manager you’ve never heard of. Master strategist who is credited with developing the modern style of the game, and with having won eight league titles in six different countries.

At each post that he took on, the scrupulous Croatian instilled his high work ethic and used his boundless football knowledge. His quirks were what made him both iconic and incomparable. He had a strange habit of writing down everything he knew, and could be often seen in the dugout, arms outstretched, with a pen stuck to his hand like a cigar.
Journalists revealed stories on how he would rearrange chairs in their office to explain the Makélélé role. An acquaintance of mine told me how he was once on the same flight as Ivić: within minutes of introducing himself to the coach, he was presented with diagrams drawn on a piece of paper to explain how England should play if they wanted to have a chance of winning Euro 2004. To him, football tactics increasingly became something like a set of problems and equations which could be solved by proper analysis — something that can and needs to be mended. When, due to his deteriorating health, doctors instructed him to retire from coaching, he was always filling up his notebooks with tactical diagrams and new ideas on a daily basis. Even when he was admitted to hospital and banned from watching football on TV, he still drew his diagrams, straight from his head.

The trophy harvest also inspired José Mourinho, one of the three greats who have come closest to matching his feat, winning four — albeit stronger — national competitions (the other two are Ernst Happel and Giovanni Trapattoni). He first met Ivić back in 1988.
“José was a student of sports science and he’d often come to watch my training sessions in Porto,” Ivić revealed in an interview with the Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list. Six years later, Ivić’s second term at the club came to an end as he was replaced by Bobby Robson and Mourinho, his interpreter. Another decade later, the two men met at the Stamford Bridge after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League. Ivić was there as a pundit for Croatian television and, after the Special One had given him a signed copy of his biography, he showed it to the journalists. The inscription read, in Portuguese, “To the greatest coach of them all — I hope one day to win as much as you.”
He was also often accused of playing defensive football. This probably had something to do with his methodology. “It’s much easier to learn how to defend than how to attack,” he used to say. “It also takes less time.” Once he’d managed to fortify the defence, his teams would grow steadily and become more and more efficient in attack as well. In 1977-78, his Ajax team scored 23 goals more than in the previous season. But for various reasons, including his adventurous nature and in some cases money, he hardly ever stuck around in one place long enough to gain true recognition.

There is also a funny anecdote about him that i know from first hand:
Nearly after he retired he was on vacation in Portugal with his wife, at some point he says he must go to a certain game so wife went with him in the middle of vacation and they went to Amsterdam to see Ajax play a home game against someone. After 5 minutes Ivic says to his wife that they can leave, she was fuming as you would expect because they fecked up a vacation for a game where they only stay 5 minutes but legend said how he came to see one specific action and after he saw it he was ready to go!

Tactics

High press, high tempo, quick transition

Tactical Corner
  • High line, offside trap: Dražen Mužinić, a long-serving Hajduk player in the 70s, admitted he became so infected by the habits he had learned that he began “catching people in offside traps” when talking to them in the street. “I couldn’t help it,” he explained. “It was a reflex action for me.” When Mužinić was transferred to Norwich City in 1980, he was so useless that Justin Fashanu remarked, “I don’t think we got Mužinić. I reckon they sent his milkman instead.” Besides not speaking a word of English, the player was immersed in Ivić’s logic and found it too hard to function outside it. When Norwich cancelled his contract, he retired aged 29
  • High press: Although his idea of playing football was all about modernity, Ivić drew great pride from the fact that he was a part of this historical line. Himself a Kaliterna disciple — like pretty much every football coach that emerged from Split up until the 1970s — he often quoted his master’s grains of ancient wisdom, like ‘See everything, look at nothing’ or ‘The play, not the player, scores goals.’ Whenever asked about his biggest influences, he’d always put Kaliterna first, then usually Rinus Michels and Hennes Weisweiler. Ivić said that Michels had chosen him as his successor because the way his Hajduk played suited the ideals of Total Football. That may not be entirely so — while he did use the 4-3-3 formation, interchanging positions and intensive pressing, his football was never quite so easy on the eye or as attacking. In part that was down to a lack of extraordinary individuals but Ivić favoured automatism and a great deal of running, so his teams weren’t as playful as the Ajax that conquered Europe. His was a more physical game.
  • Overlaps: Key feature in his game but interestingly they rarely involved fullbacks, they were mostly done by side central midfielders and wide forwards
  • Offensive patterns: Outside of overlaps and quick counter-attacks his dream tactic would be something similar to Rinus Mitchels and he was often stating how the HSV game at Poljud was a perfect game of football - Hajduk flew all over the pitch: they played one-touch football and swapped positions so quickly that it was hard even for the fans to keep track, let alone Hajduk’s opponents. They moved in unison, contracted and expanded, as though all were controlled by some invisible brain or joystick. And they pressed the ball for the full 90 minutes.
    This was avant-garde football but it wasnt to be as the player who had been the most reliable for Ivić let him down, former Arsene Wenger AM Boro Primorac. To summarize, the offensive game was a mixed bag, and when i think about it its almost like Jurgen Klopps BVB and Liverpool sides combined into one as you had a lot of direct, quick transitions through combination play like BVB and very big influence of exploiting the wide channels to create space for a quality cross while keeping sides under constant pressure like his Liverpool side.
 

harms

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An acquaintance of mine told me how he was once on the same flight as Ivić: within minutes of introducing himself to the coach, he was presented with diagrams drawn on a piece of paper to explain how England should play if they wanted to have a chance of winning Euro 2004.
:lol:

Did he happened to be in the next seat to him or did Ivić simply took over the whole plane after a flight attendant explained the safety rules?
 

Šjor Bepo

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:lol:

Did he happened to be in the next seat to him or did Ivić simply took over the whole plane after a flight attendant explained the safety rules?
When Ivic speaks everyone listens so probably the latter :D
 

P-Nut

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Chris Wilders journey to the premier league.

Wilder before this season was a manager not known to many, but that was creating something special in the lower leagues of English football.

He started his managerial career at Alfreton Town, he was only there for 27 weeks, but managed to secure 4 trophies during his short stint (the Northern Counties - East League Premier Division, the League Cup, the President's Cup and the Derbyshire Senior Cup)

Next he moved on to Halifax, just after they had been relegated to the conference. He stayed for more than 300 games, until the club went into liquidation.

After a short stint at Bury as assistant manager he took the managers job at Oxford in December. In his first half season he took them to the cusp of the playoffs, narrowly missing out. In his first full season he took Oxford back to the football league via the playoffs and began stabilising them as a football league club finishing 12th, 9th, 12th and 8th, narrowly missing out on the playoffs on 2 occasions despite their tiny budget.

Wilder then moved to Northampton Town strangely, as they were in the relegation zone when he took over. In his first season he managed to avoid the drop, 2nd season cemented them mid table, before winning the league in his 3rd season with 99 points, despite financial troubles meaning players went unpaid during October and November 15.

His time at Northampton earned him his shot at Sheffield were things really took off for him. In his first season the club got off to a poor start, securing 1 point from their opening 4 games, and sitting bottom of the table. This proved to be the turning point though and Sheff Utd would end up running away with the league on 100 points.

In his first season in the championship he guided his team to the top half, finishing 10th, just 6 points shy of the playoffs, before the run at the title the following year, when they gained promotion for the 2nd time in 3 years and began life in the Premier league.

Wilder has managed 3 promotions in the last 4 seasons, and so far this season has Sheffield United sat comfortably in the top half and looking to secure European football for the first time in their history.

But where did his tactics come from?

The brain child of Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill, the overlapping centre backs Sheffield are famed for today came about early in the 18/19 season after a poor start to the campaign.

Struggling with breaking down teams sat behind the ball, the idea was to unleash the centre backs from their defensive duties and allow them to create overlaps out wide with their respective wing backs. This change, whilst still possessing a 3 man midfield meant teams became overwhelmed defensively and allowed Sheffield to control the game.

In game and during attack the formation can be called a 244 with Norwood dropping back to help his central defender, whilst the 2 side defenders push up and take up the positions you'd expect to find a traditional winger in.



Is the sort of shape we usually see them in during attacking phases of the game, which demonstrates the amount of strain they can put on the defensive teams back line.
 

Physiocrat

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@P-Nut

Why did Wilder go with overlapping CBs rather than traditional WBs? It just seems odd you would want the attacking position of your players to be very different from the defensive position.

Was it just the players he had available to him that made him go for this innovative system?
 

P-Nut

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@P-Nut

Why did Wilder go with overlapping CBs rather than traditional WBs? It just seems odd you would want the attacking position of your players to be very different from the defensive position.

Was it just the players he had available to him that made him go for this innovative system?
From what I've read it allowed him to double up on the wings, with the wing backs and centre backs providing overlaps for each other, much like usual wingers and full backs would do. But, it still allowed him to have 3 central midfielders to choke the middle of the pitch at the same time.

It's one of the reasons they don't concede too many. When they are fully pushed up into that attacking shape, there is nowhere to clear the ball to that doesn't result in it coming straight back at you, with how congested that area outside the penalty box is.
 

Physiocrat

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From what I've read it allowed him to double up on the wings, with the wing backs and centre backs providing overlaps for each other, much like usual wingers and full backs would do. But, it still allowed him to have 3 central midfielders to choke the middle of the pitch at the same time.

It's one of the reasons they don't concede too many. When they are fully pushed up into that attacking shape, there is nowhere to clear the ball to that doesn't result in it coming straight back at you, with how congested that area outside the penalty box is.
Thanks for that. That makes sense especially if you want to keep two striker too. You could do the overlaps with wingers and full-backs in a 433 but you would miss out on the two strikers. It really is a highly innovative system.
 

Moby

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@P-Nut

Why did Wilder go with overlapping CBs rather than traditional WBs? It just seems odd you would want the attacking position of your players to be very different from the defensive position.

Was it just the players he had available to him that made him go for this innovative system?
I think a big reason for that system is that Wilder acknowledges the fact that there aren't many players with massive individual skill in that team, apart from good clean passing and crossing, but in terms of dribbling, pace or beating a man, they don't really have that many options. So it was a result of what gave them better chance of retaining possession and also getting into dangerous attacking positions out wide.

Just an example of the usual flow. The start building from the back with the three CBs, and Norwood, who usually plays it out to the flanks to Stevens or Baldock. Now instead of these two taking the ball forward themselves like traditional wingbacks, they allow the wide CBs to overlap and play it further wide to them. At that point the CBs are what it is depicted above, which is right ahead, and you still have 3 defenders which includes the two wingbacks to cover behind, plus Norwood who drops deep.

Also their CMs are more of runners than passers/dribblers, so it makes sense that instead of playing through the middle, they expand out wide, with generally 4-5 men lined across the front line to attack a cross, or receive a cross field ball and put in a cross from the other side etc. That's where they are pretty good, in terms of moving the ball across bigger lengths, rather than trying to play their way out of a congested area, so basically this system is a good remedy for teams who are dynamic, have players with good work rate, and limited skills but what they are really good at, in terms of creating dangerous chances.

Of course the defensive side of things is the biggest risk, and that requires very strong alertness and positional discipline. So as soon as a CB is overlapping, the rest of the pieces that is wingbacks, DM and central CB should instantly fall into place and ensure they maintain a good enough headstart to cover for counters. And similarly ensure they play the safest passes - that doesnt man short pointless passes - but passes to open men which is usually likely due to them overloading the opposition half, and ensure that the receiver isn't being pressed or in danger of losing the ball. It's a good simple solution, but I think it also puts a lot of strain both physically and mentally on the team for the entire time. You can't really take your eye off the game.
 

Physiocrat

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@Moby Thanks for that. Do they send up both LCB and RCB up at the same time? I couldn't tell too well as I don't know their players that well so don't know their starting positions.

@P-Nut
 

Moby

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@Moby Thanks for that. Do they send up both LCB and RCB up at the same time? I couldn't tell too well as I don't know their players that well so don't know their starting positions.

@P-Nut
From what I can recollect I don't think it's both at the same time. Maybe sometimes but usually from one side the CB bombs forward to overload the flank while on the other the wingbacks becomes the receiver for a crossfield ball. At least I remember seeing Baldock in the position of a winger/wing-forward receiving diagonal from the other side and putting it back into the box. He's a pretty good crosser as well.
 

P-Nut

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@Moby Thanks for that. Do they send up both LCB and RCB up at the same time? I couldn't tell too well as I don't know their players that well so don't know their starting positions.

@P-Nut
This video explains it pretty well mate.

 

Gio

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@P-Nut

Why did Wilder go with overlapping CBs rather than traditional WBs? It just seems odd you would want the attacking position of your players to be very different from the defensive position.

Was it just the players he had available to him that made him go for this innovative system?
To add to the points already made, I thought it was a fairly obvious tactical next step for a back 3 formation against any opposition with a single central striker. The problem that the 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 had against 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1 (or basically any 9-1 set-up) was that the opposition could get 10 bodies behind the ball and the back 3 would pass the ball between themselves offering no threat to the opposition. And this particularly problematic where CBs were too risk averse to carry the ball forward and didn't have the refined passing to break through the midfield line. After Juventus and Chelsea had brought it back into fashion earlier in the decade, a lot of teams copied but never quite figured that out. Wilder's system was one of the first to exploit the numerical advantage in that area of the park.
 

Physiocrat

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Great vid @Šjor Bepo

I particularly liked the training ground free kick routines. They are sorely underused in the modern game
 

Enigma_87

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Ernst Happel: quiet Austrian, forefather of the Total Football who conquered Europe



Background:

He was a no nonsense guy. A tremendous football player himself, for Austria and Rapid Wien and Racing Club Paris.

Ernst Happel became the first coach to have won the European Cup (Champions League) with two different clubs: Feyenoord (1969/1970) and Hamburg (1982/1983).

Happel also claimed the league title in four different countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria. Most of his success can be attributed to his attacking strategy, as well as smothering the rival to pressure the ball.

Philosophy:

Coach Ernst Happel is famous in Holland for his typical quote: “Kein keloel, fussball spielen!”. Which translates as “Stop talking, just play football!”.
In Austria, Happel was never seen as a potential top coach. He loathed theory and was never part of the incrowd. But after he won the European Cup with Feyenoord, the Austrian federation invited him for a presentation at some seminar. “The people in the room were silent and hung onto every word. It was just fantastic. His pitch was just incredible!”.

As a coach, he immediately won the respect when at the first training, he placed several empty bottles on the cross bar, and placed balls outside of the box. And he then hit the balls which would all hit a bottle. The Feyenoord squad has just seen that their coach knows how to hit a football.

Having grown up and developed in the thick of Hugo Meisl’s Wunderteam, and with the experience of two World Cups, Happel introduced a tough but fluid style of play at ADO that was previously rare in the Dutch football scene, scrapping formations like the 4-2-4 for a 4-3-3, ironically using it to defeat Ajax.

Total Football. A strategy? An ideology? An over-elaborate myth? Poetry in motion? Football’s perfection? Out-dated? Unnecessarily complicated? A failure? Revolutionary? The pinnacle of football? The game’s biggest influencer?

In its essence, the system removes boundaries and rigidity, encourages expansive, entertaining football, but is dependent on intelligent, well-rounded and highly-skilled players. At its worst, the tactic is vague, impractical and unsuccessful. To those who question its merit, Total Football is romanticised by a generation of football supporters who were still somewhat ignorant of the game’s tactical nuances.

History remembers Michels, Cruyff, Ajax and Total Football have, justifiably, become intertwined in the history of Dutch and world football. They have become revered to such an extent it now seems almost impossible to imagine how any side could have defeated Ajax during this era.

But they were.

While even the greatest sides can lose one-off cup games, Michel’s unstoppable Ajax band were thwarted – twice – over the course of an entire league season in 1969 and 1971.

Not only did Feyenoord overthrow their great rivals, but they also found a consistent way of counteracting Michel’s tactical set-up, and some in Rotterdam even claim to this day that Feyenoord, and manager Ernst Happel, remain largely forgotten about in the annals of Total Football history.

It was, after all, the Austrian who introduced the famous 4-3-3 shape into Dutch football and instructed his midfielders to look for space between the opposition lines of defence and midfield, while encouraging the team’s attacking midfielder and striker to fluidly interchange position. Happel was also renowned for his belief in players being physically strong and fit, necessities for Total Football to succeed, and it is often overlooked that the Netherlands squad at the 1974 World Cup contained more players from Feyenoord than Ajax.

Tactics:

The 4-3-3 system


Feyenoord played a 4-2-4 system in 1969, with deep striker Ove Kindvall and playmaker Willem van Hanegem as two strikers and two players in midfield. All Happel did was drop Willem back to midfield and add Franz Hasil (Rapid Wien player) to the midfield (with Wim Jansen) and the rest is history.

Rinus Michels copied what Happel did. He used the 3-2-5 still, the traditional offensive football style in Holland, with one central defender, 2 back, two controlling mids and 5 attackers: 2 out and out wingers and two “inner” players and a striker. When Ajax drew 3-3- with Feyenoord in April 1970, Michels decided to go with 4-3-3 as well. His old style was simply too vulnerable against strong teams. A year later, Ajax would win the European Cup as well.


When watching the finals between Celtic and Feyenoord, it is remarkable to see how patient Feyenoord is… Celtic is constantly playing the long ball forward and hopes on some creativity from the four forwards. Feyenoord plays like a collective. Patient build up play with short passing from the back. When Feyenoord played against teams using the 4-2-4, they always had the extra man in midfield and getting a free man using the man-more concept is more an Austrian invention than a typical Dutch one…

While Happel’s preferred system of 4-3-3 was not yet commonplace in the Netherlands and his use of a number 10 was almost unheard of. It proved a constant nuisance for defensive players who faced the dilemma of following their man, losing shape and allowing gaps to appear, or holding their position and allow Hasil and Kindvall to find pockets of space all over the pitch.

The Off-side Trap:

Maybe to clear this up first: Happel didn’t invent Total Football as a mathematical formula. He was a man of the pitch, not a theory guy. He would create solutions based on the players he had at his disposal. With him, it was an organic process. Former Ajax back (and part of the Feyenoord squad when they won the Cup in 1970) Theo van Duivenbode: “Michels was great in developing a tactical plan at the start of a game and he’d try to hold on to it. Happel was different. Happel was capable of seeing where things didn’t work in a match and he’d tweak it while we were playing. I think Happel read the games way better than Michels.”

The Off-side trap, a mechanism that would impress the world in 1974 when the Dutch successfully used it at the World Cup 1974 was something Happel came up with in 1949 (!). He was the main man in the Rapid Wien team, one of the best teams in Europe. Rapid went to play in Brazil vs Vasco da Gama and was played off the pitch, trailing 3-0 in a short spell. After the break, the Vasco manager told his players to take it easy. The end result: 5-0.

The 22 year old Ernst Happel couldn’t sleep and decided to analyse the game that night with his coach Pesser and technical director Franz Binder. Pesser: “We were humiliated. We had never had this before. We spent hours jotting on pieces of paper and analysing what they did. Their coach Flavio Costa was an innovator, who laid the foundation for Brazil’s flowing tactical style of play. That morning we decided to abandon the Austrian school. We needed something new. And one new thing we introduced was Ernst Happel as central defender, the playmaker from the back.”

Pressing:

“If you mark man-to-man, you’re sending out eleven donkeys.” – Ernst Happel

Again, a lesson learned in a country far far away gave Happel the necessary insights. Rapiud Wien is the first team post World War 2 to travel to the USSR. The teams there played a collective style of football. In Western Europe and the UK, teams relied on the dribbles of the individual, but Russian teams worked on playing pressing football as a collective. Viktor Maslov (not the dog guy), who was the mentor of one Valeri Lobanovski, was an innovator. He was the one stating that one had to take time and space away from the opponent. In those days, it was normal to allow defenders some space so they can move forward dozens of yards. Willem van Hanegem: “I can’t remember any time where Ajax put us under pressure. It was Happel who was innovative in Holland with this concept, using fast, hardworking players on the wings. They were the first defenders. We had Henk Wery at Feyenoord and he used Rene van de Kerkhof in the 1978 Dutch team. He created the ideal circumstances this way, for a team that could grasp the opponent and never let them go.”

Again, Michels took notice and decided to let more static players like Henk Groot and Bennie Muller go for marathon men like Johan Neeskens and Nico Rijnders. Ajax never played that aggressive, actually, it was once Michels had players like Jansen, Van Hanegem and Neeskens in one midfield (World Cup 1974) when he started using the aggressive press. The label Total Football was given to Michels’ team, but it was Happel who led the way.

Again, a lesson learned in a country far far away gave Happel the necessary insights. Rapiud Wien is the first team post World War 2 to travel to the USSR. The teams there played a collective style of football. In Western Europe and the UK, teams relied on the dribbles of the individual, but Russian teams worked on playing pressing football as a collective. Viktor Maslov (not the dog guy), who was the mentor of one Valeri Lobanovski, was an innovator. He was the one stating that one had to take time and space away from the opponent. In those days, it was normal to allow defenders some space so they can move forward dozens of yards. Willem van Hanegem: “I can’t remember any time where Ajax put us under pressure. It was Happel who was innovative in Holland with this concept, using fast, hardworking players on the wings. They were the first defenders. We had Henk Wery at Feyenoord and he used Rene van de Kerkhof in the 1978 Dutch team. He created the ideal circumstances this way, for a team that could grasp the opponent and never let them go.”

Again, Michels took notice and decided to let more static players like Henk Groot and Bennie Muller go for marathon men like Johan Neeskens and Nico Rijnders. Ajax never played that aggressive, actually, it was once Michels had players like Jansen, Van Hanegem and Neeskens in one midfield (World Cup 1974) when he started using the aggressive press. The label Total Football was given to Michels’ team, but it was Happel who led the way.

Key roles and positions:

The Austrian perfected his defence, able to use a libero in Iron Rinus like Michels attempted in a 4-2-4 with Velibor Vasović during the previous seasons. More importantly, he was able to find the balance in midfield, which is ultimately where the EC final was won as Celtic couldn’t cope with the extra man in the middle. That man was Franz Hasil who he brought in his first season at Feyenord.
The Austrian was one of the first to operate the then-revolutionary central attacking midfielder position in a 4-3-3 and his movement between the lines caused confusion across the Celtic team. Throughout the duration of his two seasons at Feyenoord, Hasil played an influential role in attack, thriving under Happel who was once quoted as saying he would rather win 5-4 than 1-0.

The ball playing CB (aka Libero):
Rinus Israël was Feyenoord’s cool head at the back in Rotterdam. With the audacity to wear thick-rimmed hipster glasses for Feyenoord’s 1970 photo-call, he too was highly distinctive. He was also highly successful. He was the man that took the ball out of defence but also solid defender that is responsible(alongside more of a rugged stopper) to finish one season with only 22 goals conceded.


The holder and DM position:

Wim Jansen, a strong and powerful defensive midfielder who protected his defence with devastating ferocity, was also technically adept at moving the ball. His role was crucial at the time and he did not only provide defensive stability but he also participated actively in the build up and spraying passes from deep and linking the midfield and defence.

The B2B:

Van Hanegem was the the greatest of Happel’s midfield apostles. He enjoyed a father-son relationship with the coach, and he would go earn 52 Dutch caps during his career, including one from the 1974 World Cup final. Still considered one of the all-time greatest Dutch players, he earned the nickname De Kromme for his running style and ability to curl the ball with the outside of his boot. Van Hanegem was a fantastic passer, a hard worker and strong tackler too. It is no wonder that Van Hanegem – who possessed great vision on the pitch despite only having 70 percent of his sight – remarked: “That man saw everything.”

The key between AM/CF interchanging positions:

Hasil and Kindvall proved impossible for Celtic defenders to mark and Wery and Moulijn’s direct dribbling caused problems all evening for the opposition defenders. Off the ball too, Happel had ensured his side were well drilled and Celtic talisman Jimmy Johnstone was given no space or time on all the ball by van Duivenbode, while Moulijn worked doubly hard to ensure the opposition full-back, David Haye, could not supply Johnstone.

Yet, while Hasil and Kindvall’s interchangeable positions proved crucial to Feyenoord’s success, it was the individuals’ commitment and talent that saw them perfect the roles. Kindvall, as a small and nippy striker was unconventional in the early ‘70s, proved to be an unrelenting goal machine in Rotterdam, netting a remarkable 129 goals in 144 Eredivisie games during his time with the club.

The left winger:

The left winger could float past opposition defenders and was renowned for his ability to feign a pass and cut back inside. Moulijn played for Feyenoord between 1955-1972 and today there is a statue to honour the great man outside De Kuip. He sadly passed away in 2011 and his funeral parade began at the stadium before slowly snaking past thousands of mourners who lined the streets of Rotterdam to pay their respects.

The winger had to not only work on the ball, but off it too. Moulijn was tasked with harassing Celtic full-back David Hay every time he got the ball and ensuring that the Scots’ biggest threat, Jimmy Johnstone, was isolated from the passage of play to use the EC final against Celtic as example..

Right winger:

Wery, offered some excellent wingplay and he also participated of the pressing as a team. Generally the flanks were well covered by Happel's players and represented the first line of defence.

Problems and shortcomings:

Ironically, it was Feyenoord’s irresistible attacking football that eventually proved their undoing. Sides, fearing a potential onslaught, dropped deeper against the champions and without space to exploit they often struggled to break down the opposition, especially away from home, and Feyenoord beat just two of the top nine on their travels that year. The team also suffered disappointment in the Dutch Cup and faced a shock elimination in the second round by Groningen, who were ultimately relegated from the Eredivisie.

Happel always found a way to create a top team with the players he had at his disposal. Hasil once said that what made the Austrian unique was that he played the best he had in each position but also managed to get the best out of them. He often didn't have superstars in the team and had to be innovative in his approach especially against teams that played in deeper defensive lines. He did lack some great players in key positions to take the team to the next level - inside midfielders that can unlock tight defences with great passing and also top class full backs that can further stretch the pitch and offer some essential wingplay.
 

Raees

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Messages
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Excellent stuff @Enigma_87
Seconded. Also guys, I will be uploading the best write ups to my website's manager profiles (Gio, Enigma have given permission for theirs to go up. If anyone alse doesn't mind - do let me know).
 

Edgar Allan Pillow

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Well, my team should be of no surprise to hose who've played these with me before....I'm still stuck in creating a Christmas Tree that can move past R1 of drafts. :D

There are 2 version of the team which I've used as blueprint as I believe the perfect combination is a hybrid of these.

You have the earlier 2002/03 version which was more flamboyant, more attacking and so defensively suspect and then you have a 2006/07 version which was defensively better but at cost of some attacking flair. The perfect team would be a balance of both.

Common themes across both formations:
- Strong CBs
- Attacking fullbacks (Maldini went forward more than he's given credit for)
- Pirlo
- A play making AM and a direct attacking AM

Differences in both formations:
- Role of Seedorf. He dropped back to a playmaking CM supporting Rui Costa in a very attacking team. In later versions, he moved on as #10 himself and had a better defensive support in Ambrosini.
- Shevchenko & Inzaghi - With 2 proper AMs a complete CM in Sheva was needed to round out the attack, but with Seedorf moving up, the team switched to a more direct playing style letting Inzaghi's in the box instincts loose ahead of Kaka's pace.

Hybrid/Blend:
- Hybrid of Seedorf and Ambrosini: Someone who can provide solid defensive support and act as better box-to-box than Seedorf in earlier formations so able to fuel a more attacking front trio without comprising defensively.
 

Gio

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MARCELLO LIPPI - TACTICAL EVOLUTION


Throughout Lippi's management a number of overarching principles guided his tactical approach. Firstly, his teams were renowned for their high-energy pressing and ground-covering. His attackers defended from the front, his midfields never stopped running both up and across the park, and his defenders were proactive and swallowed up the opposition. Secondly, his teams typically defended in a flat back four where he used traditional stopper types (Vierchowod, Kohler, Ferrara, Cannavaro, Materazzi) to defend in modern zonal systems. Along with Sacchi and Capello, he helped to move Italian defences forward from the deeper-lying libero-based systems of Trapattoni and Bearzot in the 1980s. Compactness was the name of the game. Thirdly, he preferred a physical attack who could take and protect a direct ball in from his defence and attack central areas. In some teams this was about a traditional target man with presence in the mould of Christian Vieri or Luca Toni, and in others it was about having physicality across the attack and using powerful players in wide areas, such as Ravanelli or Nedved. Fourthly, he adapted his system to accommodate a superstar. In his first campaign in Turin, his team were dominating with a 4-3-3 but, upon Baggio's return to fitness towards the end of the season, he shifted to 4-3-1-2. He did the same when Agnelli splashed the cash to bring in Zidane. Later for Italy he built a midfield around Pirlo and found a hole for Totti in his attack which were pivotal in their World Cup success. Whilst he believed in the collective and sacrifice across all players, he was always willing to adapt his formation to find space for a game-changer.


JUVENTUS V1 - 1994-1996 - 4-3-3


The team was built on a 4-3-3 formation based around an aggressive and no-nonsense defence, a relentlessly hard-running midfield and a physical front three who could defend from the front. Lippi prized versatility and interchangeability across his defence, midfield and attacking units. In attack the front three rotated often, while in midfield he used players such as Di Livio and Conte who were equally as comfortable in wide areas. At the back he loved proper defenders and deployed them in a modern system that, together with the running in midfield and attack, made the team extremely compact. They were able to win the ball back arguably better than anyone before or since, which allowed them to spring the ball into their forwards early. The transition-based football inspired much of the contain-and-counter tactics of the 2000s and was the model for Klopp's 4-3-3 at Liverpool.


JUVENTUS V2 1996-1999 - 4-3-1-2


Lippi adapted his formation to accommodate both the departure of Paulo Sousa and the purchase of Zinedine Zidane. Meanwhile, Vialli and Ravanelli leaving for England changed the shape of his attack as Lippi had slightly less versatility across his front line. The purchase of Paulo Montero helped to replace the ageing legs of Pietro Vierchowod and Massimo Carrera. Lippi remained big on tactical flexibility in his players. He loved centre-halves who could operate in a multitude of systems. The likes of Porrini, Torricelli, Ferrara, Pessotto, Thuram, Birindelli, Di Livio, Conte, Montero, Luliano could excel centrally and out wide. It also enabled him to flex to 3-4-1-2 as they did for the 1998 Champions League Final with Real Madrid. The team remains one of the gold standards for tilting on its axis, exploiting the positional versatility of its players without missing a beat.


INTER 1999-2000

Lippi joined the Nerazzuri circus inheriting one of the most unbalanced and top-heavy squads of all time. His attack was ridiculously stacked with Ronaldo, Baggio, Vieri, Recoba, Mutu and Zamarano. But unlike his Juve front three from 1994-1996 they all wanted to be the centre-point of the attack. He moved Zanetti into midfield to inject hard running alongside two or three from Seedorf, Farinos and Cauet to develop a more Lippi-esque midfield based upon two-way games, punchy passing, horizontal coverage and graft. The system was essentially 8 workers and 2 strikers, usually in a narrow 4-4-2 formation, with Seedorf and Zanetti in hybrid central/wide roles. The team was somewhat disjointed between the midfield and attack and it lacked some of the success factors behind his Juve and Italy sides, particularly the top-class playmaker in midfield where Seedorf had a poor campaign and was much more a cog than the centrepoint.

JUVENTUS V3 2001-2004 - 4-4-2 / 4-3-1-2


Lippi returned to Juventus and provided an instant return securing the league and cup double in both of his first two campaigns, and going down on penalties in the 2003 Champions League final against Milan. With an ageing defence and Zidane's departure to Madrid, the club invested heavily to plunder the best Serie A had to offer in Buffon, Thuram and Nedved. Common through this period was a back four and a front two, with the midfield shape shifting subject to who was available. Pavel Nedved became the star man during this period, winning the Ballon D'Or, and was often deployed centrally in a free-roaming role to maximise his impact on the game, as best shown by his barnstorming performance against Real Madrid. The shape of the midfield changed often - width was provided through Zambrotta, Cameronesi and Nedved, while Davids, Conte, Tacchinardi and Appiah shored up the middle - enabling Lippi to move between 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-1-2. The same principles as his previous Juventus teams were in force - defensive strength, midfield work rate and versatility, accommodation of 1-2 star players - once again.


ITALY 2004-2006 - 4-4-2 DIAMOND / 4-2-3-1


Without a trophy since 1982, the national team turned to Lippi. Despite moving out of club football, he maintained the same tactical principles and deployed different midfield shapes around a core back four. He used a diamond in the group stage founded upon perhaps the greatest defensive core of all time in Buffon, Nesta and Cannavaro. Injuries however to Totti and Nesta forced him to readjust and in the knockout stages he shifted to a narrow 4-2-3-1 shape where Perotta played slightly more central than the more natural wide player Camaronesi on the opposite flank. This enabled Grosso to overlap as he did so succesfully and infamously against Australia. The same principles of defensive strength and narrow compactness in midfield were central to the team's success. Meanwhile, Materazzi took over from the injured Nesta in a Montero-esque role. The system ensured Pirlo (3 man-of-the-match awards) and Totti (4 assists) had the cavalry around them to play some of their finest football.




 
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Raees

Legal Guardian of the Football forums
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Messages
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Cheers mate.

Top stuff @Gio @Šjor Bepo ! Ivic deserves some plaudits considering his ideas during a very early era, yet his tactics were progressive like 40-50 years later.

@Raees I'll make some tiny edits and let you know when it's completely finished.
No worries bud - just keep me posted.
 

Synco

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Joined
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Messages
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Big Dunk's Nereo Rocco portrait:



Nereo Rocco – the Godfather of Catenaccio

Nereo Rocco is revered as one of the first proponents and masters of the Catenaccio system. El Paròn (‘The Master’) is one the most successful managers in Calcio history. He famously was the first Italian manager to bring the European Cup to Italy (in 1963, against Eusébio’s Benfica, and once again in 1969, against Cruyff’s Ajax). Both a great man-manager and tactician, Rocco’s legacy is immortal – boasting both domestic and European success, moulding young talents, helping them fulfil their potential; evolving tactics; meticulous game planning and ability to rebuild teams year after year. Nereo Rocco is one of the less talked about greats, who I was very excited to draw inspiration from and build a team in his image.


History and culture

To understand the mentality of Catenaccio, we may need to look back at the class struggle inherent in Italian social history from the 30s and 40s. Social-economic equality and justice had been argued and fought for though-out the 30s and 40s. Class struggle was evident as society was neither egalitarian or just. Through to the class struggles in the 60s and 70s: found in the factories and very area of people’s lives at home, school and hospitals. It was the eternal struggle of the weak having to defend themselves. Like the Italian immigrants who fled post-WW2 Italy, the very defensive nature of Catenaccio encapsulates both the physical and mental strength and resilience of the immigrants. Tenacious, tough and fierce – in their fight and struggle to survive. Italians are famous for being mentally tough when faced with adversity. Italy’s greatest moments on the pitch (see 1982 and 2006) have always had the back-drop of external criticism, scandal, scrutiny and struggle. When rock-bottom, the leader needed to adapt tactically and strategically to solve the team’s problems. This fuels the siege mentality. Italy are renown to be a country who grows in a tournament. Rocco represents one of the most mentally tough coaches in Serie A history.


Nereo management style

Nereo Rocco was famous for being a fierce competitor. His early tenures at both Triestina and Padova forced Rocco to maximise his squad’s potential through his methods and tactics to compete with the big Italian clubs. Rocco thoroughly calculated any advantage over his opponents. He would meticulously study his opponent and adapt his tactics to take advantage of any weaknesses and nullify their strengths. In doing so, Rocco could go toe-to-toe with superior opponent’s (finishing 2nd in Serie A with Triestina in 1948, and 3rd with Padavo in 1958). Rocco inculcated his style into every new team, drilling his system and patterns of play like a composer. By studying all the strengths and weaknesses of each opponent in detail, Rocco would instruct to exploit that weakness relentlessly. Rocco had planned for every possible outcome and potential situation.



Gianni Brera, Italian journalist: “Nereo Rocco coaches with genius-like pragmatism. Whereas the average Italian coach simply relies on a pale imitation of the football offered in England, Rocco evolves it and innovates it. He was always real, always himself. Both in official decisions, and in moments of relaxation. True, authentic.”

Nereo Rocco’s approach to the game was revolutionary in the sense his demands matched the modern importance of physical conditioning, defensive work-rate and tracking of your runners. Rocco was respected as being an excellent man manager. His motivational skills were well known, building relationships with his players on the pitch, at the training ground and socially. Rocco could be seen talking tactics and man-marking duties over a fine meal and drink. Through these close bonds of trust and respect, Rocco got the best performances out of all his players. His relationship with playmaker Gianni Rivera was key – building his side around Rivera’s creative playing style, complemented by the highly disciplined and defensive Catenaccio. By instilling that winning mentality and positive team environment early in his squad, Rocco laid the foundations to success. The quintessential all-round leader: passionate and motivational on the side-lines, while humorous, warm and charismatic off the pitch.

Rocco’s players trusted in him, and trusted the system. Belief in his system was tantamount to success. His players could only fail him if they did not believe and execute his tactical plans. Ultimately, the ideal was if the team were to lose following Rocco’s instructions, it was not the players who failed, it was Rocco’s tactics – and Rocco would receive the scrutiny thereafter.

When faced in knock-out European football you would witness Rocco’s ever-changing tactics, fine-tuned to tackle his next opponent. Each adjustment carefully reasoned and developed, utilising his full squad.


The master of Catenaccio

Nereo Rocco recognised the tactical advantage of placing a spare man in defence. This had both a defensive and attacking benefit: this player would provide more defensive protection for the backline; and as soon as his team regained possession, he would be pivotal in playing the ball forward. Nereo Rocco was the true proponent of the Catenaccio system, who was undoubtedly inspired by the tactical innovations of Karl Rappan’s ‘bolt’.

At Padova, Nereo built a very disciplined side with his famous defensive and counter-attacking style. His formations evolved from a 1-3-3-3 formation, through to 1-4-4-1 and 1-4-3-2. A highly disciplined man-marking unit, utilising a libero in the catenaccio system which would be the staple mark of all his teams.

Rocco had perfected the balance of pragmatism and artistry. His team’s were no doubt defensive, but were still lethal on the offense (Milan scored an almighty 83 goals in 34 games in the 1961-62 season). There is a common misconception that Catenaccio is wholly negative. The tactical setup allows the team to build highly efficient attacks, with quick, short and long passes to get to the opponent’s goal in the most direct manner. Rocco's teams were undeniably potent, experts at soaking up the opponent's pressure, before finishing off their opponent at the other end.

In the defensive phase, Milan possessed one of the most effective and firmest ‘bolted door’ in Italy. The marking was relentless. Rocco did not fear playing physically against supposedly superior technical sides. Milan would allow their opponent no space to work in. His teams were also not afraid to attack their opponent from the very first whistle if they smelt blood.

The marriage of the suffocating Catenaccio with the artistry and creativity of Gianni Rivera was vital. Rocco on Rivera: “Yes, he doesn’t run a lot, but if I want good football, creativity, the art of turning around a situation from the first to the 90th minute, only Rivera can give me all of this. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate, because in the end it’s only football, but Rivera in all of this is a genius.”

That is what make’s Nereo Rocco’s Milan so beautiful. Balance. Rivera’s creativity and attacking movements counter-balance the defensive solidarity of Catenaccio.

 

harms

Shining Star of Paektu Mountain
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I'll do this in different parts. This one about the innovations that Lobanovsky had brought in football training.


Lobanovsky’s training regime.


A lot has been said about Lobanovsky and his excruciating training methods. He was someone who was positively obsessed with physicality — he wanted to make a team that would work like a machine, so he expected from his players to keep up their level of performance throughout the entire 90 minutes of incredibly demanding and energetic football with aggressive pressing and constant off-the-ball movement.

At its best, it worked like a treat and his teams got a constant praise from the likes of Michels and Lippi – for example, Michels said that the football that Lobanovsky’s USSR had shown during the 1988 Euros was as close to perfection as he had ever seen, and even compared its final to the 1974 World Cup final (but this time it was Michels’ team that had won against the logic of the game). At its worst, it had caused conflicts and even literal mutinies – after a few seasons of Lobanovsky’s routine footballers felt completely exhausted and burnt out. Dynamo Kiyv’s players even compared their training to Nazi’s concentration camps – a darkly humourous exaggeration, of course, but still a damning one, especially when you take in consideration that that generation of players were born during or straight after the WW2.

To be fair, the situation had slightly improved over the years, especially after the 1976 mutiny when players asked the management to fire Lobanovsky – only a year after achieving an unprecedented for Soviet teams European success. Before that, Lobanovsky’s politics were to sign young players, drain everything that he can from them in 5 years and after that, get rid – truly a scarily inhumane approach. In the 80’s he would switch to a more considerate approach and players from that era would describe him more as a father-like figure than as a ruthless dictator, although he had still combined both methods in his approach. Still, from what you have read up to this point, you’d be tempted to imagine a Felix Magath-like figure, but this would be a mistake – so I’ll try to describe his training routine in more detail, including multiple innovations that he and his team (most notably Oleh Bazylevych and Anatoly Zelentsov) had introduced to the football world.

Quality over quantity.

At the time when Lobanovsky and Bazylevych had became co-managers (technically Bazylevych was Lobanovsky’s assistant, but they both insisted that responsibility and appreciation should be split equally between them), the training regime in Soviet clubs, like everything else in the country, was heavily regulated by the government. There were strict instructions on the way that the training session should be organised and scheduled – for example, one training session was supposed to be 2 hours long. That routine was developed without much consideration for football specifics, in fact it was mostly a standard athletic stuff with the addition of some time with the ball. Lobanovsky (& co., but I won’t mention them every time for my convenience) wanted a revolution, and in 1972 he was given a much-needed inspiration by a Soviet sprinter Valeriy Borzov and his coach, Valentin Petrovsky. Borzov had won the Olympic Gold in both 100m and 200m races, and after the win he had said that at least half of the credit for his success should go to his coach. Petrovsky, who had a PhD. in biology, after a meticulous study of the sport, had developed a special training program and even a new running style for Borzov – unlike your regular athletic training at the time, this one had focused on the specific muscles that were crucial to sprinters. They had literally rebuilt Borzov’s entire body in order to achieve this result. Lobanovsky had realised that he needs to do the same in football – and he knew that he was going to need some help, so he had contacted Anatoly Zelentsov, Petrosvky’s pupil and currently a professor at Kiyv State Institute of Physical Education.


Dynamo Kiyv was the first Soviet club to open their own science center (nicknamed Zelentsov’s center for obvious reasons). The first thing that they did was to cut the training session in half – instead of 2 hours of training that the government standards demanded, Dynamo only trained for 45-50 minutes per day… but those were the different kind of trainings. High-intensity work outs are pretty much the norm today – not only in professional sport, but even in home fitness sessions. At the time though, it was a revolution – after 50 minutes of training Dynamo players were completely shuttered; not only in Soviet football there were no real analogies, the world football was still using general athletic training as the basis for everything as well. What also separated Lobanovsky’s system was the thorough analysis of which muscles were more important for footballers and which muscles only hurt players agility and pace – and while they were able to pick the best talents from all over the country, it was their system that nurtured the natural athletic gifts of the likes of Blokhin and Demyanenko and transformed them into almost literal superhumans that had combined insane pace with the ability of retaining high energy levels and intensity throughout the entire game.

Mind games.

There’s a famous quotation of Cruyff: «football is a game that you play with your brain» & a similar one that he had used while describing Dennis Bergkamp: «you play football with your head and your legs are there to help you». Despite such focus on athleticism and player’s physique, Lobanovsky shared the same conviction, and I’m not only talking about his tactical lessons that could’ve lasted for hours. The slight difference in Cruyff’s quotations here is quite significant – Lobanovsky was not only interested in player’s mind and the ideas that could’ve been taught, he was also interested in their brains – quite literally.

Dynamo training included things that you’re more likely to witness in neurological studies – multiple tests on your reaction speed, concentration, memory and overall intelligence. You’d have simple tests – like clicking on a button as fast as you can after seeing a dot flashing on a screen to measure your reaction speed, and you’d have insane tests like watching a dot trace a complicated trajectory through a maze and then trying to recreate it without hitting any of the walls – a game that was testing both your memory and coordination in a very challenging way.

You can see some of them in this video – starting at 2:25 and 3:38




Statistics 101.

The difference in physical & mental training was not the only thing that Lobanovsky, Bazylevych and Zelentsov had though of. They had developed the first real system for a statistical player performance analysis – in the age of xG’s it looks basic and outdated, but you have to understand that there was literally nothing of the sorts in football before them. They had called it the TTA – tactical & technical actions. A special man sat on the stadium and wrote down every action (a pass, a tackle etc.) and a success rate – for every position there was a standard for both number of actions and success rate, and if you didn’t reach it, you’ll be in trouble. Again, in the age of big data it does seem a bit simplistic and naive, but you have to remember that this was the first real introduction of math and statistics to football if we don’t count goal scored & conceded as one. When Lobanovski said things like, “A team that commits errors in no more than 15 to 18 per cent of its actions is unbeatable,” he wasn’t guessing. Zelentsov’s team had run the numbers.

When Simon Kuper (the author of ‘Soccernomics’, ‘Football against the Enemy’ etc.) visited Kiyv in 1992, he was shocked by what he had saw — Zelentsov showed him a room, where his assistant was watching a Dynamo game on a screen divided into 9 squares. A computer programme was automatically analysing players movement, measuring how often each player went into each part of the pitch, who should replace him when he left the zone and how much work did he do with and without the ball. Reminds you a bit of Pep's juego de posićion, doesn't it?


Guardiola's training ground – here's a very good article on the matter

«Simon Kuper» said:
It was a fertile programme: Zelentsov handled me a computer print-out that measured, for each Dynamo player in the match, ‘intensivity’, ‘activity’, ‘error rate’, ‘effectivity’ (‘absolute’ and ‘relative’) and ‘realisation’ and awarded each player with a final mark computed to the third decimal point. It almost puts to shame the stars Match Weekly hands out
 

Joga Bonito

The Art of Football
Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Messages
7,645
I'll do this in different parts. This one about the innovations that Lobanovsky had brought in football training.


Lobanovsky’s training regime.

A lot has been said about Lobanovsky and his excruciating training methods. He was someone who was positively obsessed with physicality — he wanted to make a team that would work like a machine, so he expected from his players to keep up their level of performance throughout the entire 90 minutes of incredibly demanding and energetic football with aggressive pressing and constant off-the-ball movement.

At its best, it worked like a treat and his teams got a constant praise from the likes of Michels and Lippi – for example, Michels said that the football that Lobanovsky’s USSR had shown during the 1988 Euros was as close to perfection as he had ever seen, and even compared its final to the 1974 World Cup final (but this time it was Michels’ team that had won against the logic of the game). At its worst, it had caused conflicts and even literal mutinies – after a few seasons of Lobanovsky’s routine footballers felt completely exhausted and burnt out. Dynamo Kiyv’s players even compared their training to Nazi’s concentration camps – a darkly humourous exaggeration, of course, but still a damning one, especially when you take in consideration that that generation of players were born during or straight after the WW2.

To be fair, the situation had slightly improved over the years, especially after the 1976 mutiny when players asked the management to fire Lobanovsky – only a year after achieving an unprecedented for Soviet teams European success. Before that, Lobanovsky’s politics were to sign young players, drain everything that he can from them in 5 years and after that, get rid – truly a scarily inhumane approach. In the 80’s he would switch to a more considerate approach and players from that era would describe him more as a father-like figure than as a ruthless dictator, although he had still combined both methods in his approach. Still, from what you have read up to this point, you’d be tempted to imagine a Felix Magath-like figure, but this would be a mistake – so I’ll try to describe his training routine in more detail, including multiple innovations that he and his team (most notably Oleh Bazylevych and Anatoly Zelentsov) had introduced to the football world.

Quality over quantity.

At the time when Lobanovsky and Bazylevych had became co-managers (technically Bazylevych was Lobanovsky’s assistant, but they both insisted that responsibility and appreciation should be split equally between them), the training regime in Soviet clubs, like everything else in the country, was heavily regulated by the government. There were strict instructions on the way that the training session should be organised and scheduled – for example, one training session was supposed to be 2 hours long. That routine was developed without much consideration for football specifics, in fact it was mostly a standard athletic stuff with the addition of some time with the ball. Lobanovsky (& co., but I won’t mention them every time for my convenience) wanted a revolution, and in 1972 he was given a much-needed inspiration by a Soviet sprinter Valeriy Borzov and his coach, Valentin Petrovsky. Borzov had won the Olympic Gold in both 100m and 200m races, and after the win he had said that at least half of the credit for his success should go to his coach. Petrovsky, who had a PhD. in biology, after a meticulous study of the sport, had developed a special training program and even a new running style for Borzov – unlike your regular athletic training at the time, this one had focused on the specific muscles that were crucial to sprinters. They had literally rebuilt Borzov’s entire body in order to achieve this result. Lobanovsky had realised that he needs to do the same in football – and he knew that he was going to need some help, so he had contacted Anatoly Zelentsov, Petrosvky’s pupil and currently a professor at Kiyv State Institute of Physical Education.


Dynamo Kiyv was the first Soviet club to open their own science center (nicknamed Zelentsov’s center for obvious reasons). The first thing that they did was to cut the training session in half – instead of 2 hours of training that the government standards demanded, Dynamo only trained for 45-50 minutes per day… but those were the different kind of trainings. High-intensity work outs are pretty much the norm today – not only in professional sport, but even in home fitness sessions. At the time though, it was a revolution – after 50 minutes of training Dynamo players were completely shuttered; not only in Soviet football there were no real analogies, the world football was still using general athletic training as the basis for everything as well. What also separated Lobanovsky’s system was the thorough analysis of which muscles were more important for footballers and which muscles only hurt players agility and pace – and while they were able to pick the best talents from all over the country, it was their system that nurtured the natural athletic gifts of the likes of Blokhin and Demyanenko and transformed them into almost literal superhumans that had combined insane pace with the ability of retaining high energy levels and intensity throughout the entire game.

Mind games.

There’s a famous quotation of Cruyff: «football is a game that you play with your brain» & a similar one that he had used while describing Dennis Bergkamp: «you play football with your head and your legs are there to help you». Despite such focus on athleticism and player’s physique, Lobanovsky shared the same conviction, and I’m not only talking about his tactical lessons that could’ve lasted for hours. The slight difference in Cruyff’s quotations here is quite significant – Lobanovsky was not only interested in player’s mind and the ideas that could’ve been taught, he was also interested in their brains – quite literally.

Dynamo training included things that you’re more likely to witness in neurological studies – multiple tests on your reaction speed, concentration, memory and overall intelligence. You’d have simple tests – like clicking on a button as fast as you can after seeing a dot flashing on a screen to measure your reaction speed, and you’d have insane tests like watching a dot trace a complicated trajectory through a maze and then trying to recreate it without hitting any of the walls – a game that was testing both your memory and coordination in a very challenging way.

You can see some of them in this video – starting at 2:25 and 3:38




Statistics 101.

The difference in physical & mental training was not the only thing that Lobanovsky, Bazylevych and Zelentsov had though of. They had developed the first real system for a statistical player performance analysis – in the age of xG’s it looks basic and outdated, but you have to understand that there was literally nothing of the sorts in football before them. They had called it the TTA – tactical & technical actions. A special man sat on the stadium and wrote down every action (a pass, a tackle etc.) and a success rate – for every position there was a standard for both number of actions and success rate, and if you didn’t reach it, you’ll be in trouble. Again, in the age of big data it does seem a bit simplistic and naive, but you have to remember that this was the first real introduction of math and statistics to football if we don’t count goal scored & conceded as one. When Lobanovski said things like, “A team that commits errors in no more than 15 to 18 per cent of its actions is unbeatable,” he wasn’t guessing. Zelentsov’s team had run the numbers.

When Simon Kuper (the author of ‘Soccernomics’, ‘Football against the Enemy’ etc.) visited Kiyv in 1992, he was shocked by what he had saw — Zelentsov showed him a room, where his assistant was watching a Dynamo game on a screen divided into 9 squares. A computer programme was automatically analysing players movement, measuring how often each player went into each part of the pitch, who should replace him when he left the zone and how much work did he do with and without the ball. Reminds you a bit of Pep's juego de posićion, doesn't it?


Guardiola's training ground – here's a very good article on the matter
Great write up. Insane how scientific his approach was.