Author Topic: The System is the King  (Read 32983 times)

Offline Prof

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The System is the King
« on: August 17, 2013, 03:51:19 PM »
The system is the king, not the individual.  That’s what we’ve been told, and the uncompromising approach to squad restructuring certainly demonstrates that it the case.  A system oriented approach needs specific qualities in the players throughout the squad to work effectively, as any player should be able to step into the team and compliment the system.

So what does the system require from the individuals that make up the team and how does a system work to get the most from its component parts to maximise the overall effectiveness of the team?

Cohesion has been defined as “a group of individuals thinking, feeling and acting as a single unit” (Tutko and Richards, Psychology of Coaching).  How can a team with an ever-changing combination of players become a cohesive group?

In this article I’m going to attempt to explore some of the parameters that affect the thinking and acting elements of this definition of cohesion.  Specifically, I will discuss the perceptual and decision-making processes that influence how effective footballers can be at executing fast, combination attacks.  This will then allow us to see which types of footballers will thrive in a system that is reliant on a high degree of cohesion.

The process of making a decision is influenced by two factors, firstly, the person’s interpretation of the current environment and secondly, by memories stored from previous experiences.

Limited Channel Capacity

The skill to accurately interpret the current environment is our first obstacle to overcome.  We constantly take in sensory information that tells us about the present environment.  This is received by our sense organs and stored for a very short time in our short-term sensory stores.  From here, this data is filtered, and most of it discarded, however some of it, which the brain interprets as important, is moved into our short term memory.  We have to discard most of the sensory information before it reaches our short-term memory, as we are incapable of processing all of that data.  We have a Limited Channel Capacity.

To test how well you filter information, watch this video and count the number of passes the team in white makes.  I’d be very impressed if you can get this right.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ahg6qcgoay4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Ahg6qcgoay4</a>

The implications of a Limited Channel Capacity for sports people are significant.  The process of filtering information is a subconscious one and happens instantly.  It explains why we genuinely didn’t ‘see’ our teammate (who was waving and shouting at the top of his voice) standing completely unmarked, six yards out from goal, even though we were looking straight at him.  Our eyes picked up the visual data, but it got filtered as our processing capacity was divided between worrying about the defender running at us and keeping control of the ball.

Someone with good ‘vision’ on the football pitch might not have 20/20 vision, and equally, someone with great eyes might not be able to ‘see’ very much on the pitch.  The skill is to filter information effectively, which is a combination of not needing to attend to some of the basics very much (like ball control) and being able to recognise the most important sensory information while ignoring the rest.

Interpreting the Data


Once we have filtered the data appropriately, we now need to make sense of it.  This is where information in our short-term memory is compared with information in our long term memory to decode it.

Look at this image.  What do you see?



There is no cube in the picture, but your brain is still able to ‘see’ it using the information available and your previous experience of seeing cubes.

We rely on pattern recognition, which again comes down to experience.   If I showed you a random series of eleven red and eleven blue dots on a rectangle, you’d probably find it difficult to recall the next day.  But if these dots looked like a 4-4-2 versus a 4-3-3, you’d recognise them immediately and be able to reconstruct the image on another day.

Patterns allow us to chunk objects together to identify them as one body instead of discrete entities.  Experienced chess players will instantly recognise this pattern:



But those who think a Sicilian Defence is a Godfather-inspired legal phrase won’t recognise this common opening position.

The ability of a player to recognise specific patterns that occur in open play will enable them to predict how play will unfold and recognise opportunities to exploit unbalanced defences.

As well as pattern recognition and chunking of different elements, it helps players to be able to recognise and use Advanced Cues.  A basic example of an Advanced Cue might be a player running up to take a corner kick.  You know when the ball will be kicked before it is, as you have the Advanced Cue of the player’s run-up.  However, skilful individuals will be able to make use of much more detail from advanced cues, such as the direction a pass will go, or which direction the player will dribble a ball.

From a team cohesion point of view, predictability of movement from your teammates is essential.  Using triggers as Advanced Cues to indicate what you want a teammate to do is something well drilled teams do automatically.

I’ve been encouraged by the movement of Aspas from the little I’ve seen of him, as he uses movement to indicate where and when he wants the ball.  He needs players around him who can read these triggers, and in Coutinho, he has someone who can.

As a side-note on the use of Advanced Cues, a look-away pass is an example of someone using a false Advanced Cue to disguise a pass.  However, the best defenders will know not to watch the head of the player, but to make use of other cues.  One of the problems that arises with players who are deceptive, is they don’t just confuse their opponents, but their teammates too.  It is certainly one of the reasons unpredictable players are sometimes surplus to requirements in a passing and combination based system.


Decision Making


Hick's Law states that the more choices someone has, the longer it takes to make a decision.  Therefore, by having specific patterns that are worked on in training, and rules that simplify the decision making process, the speed of decision-making can be increased.

Stanley Matthews wrote in his autobiography about his understanding with Stan Mortensen.  When he got around a full back to the goal line, he would pull the ball back to a specific place every time, and Mortensen just had to make sure he was there.  In modern football, with the role of video analysis and the knowledge even casual observers of the game have about players’ tendencies to do certain things, a simple attacking move such as that wouldn’t work after a while as defenders would also know it was going to happen.  However, having a series of principles will help reduce the number of options the player on the ball might have, speeding up the decision making process.

In addition, previous experiences influence future decisions.  If we have made a decision in a given situation and been successful, we are more likely to make the same decision in a similar situation.  Conversely, if we have made a decision that has not been successful, we may be less likely to repeat it.

Rodgers talks a lot about players needing courage to play and maintain possession; he wants players to feel good about making correct decisions.  Essentially, you cannot criticise a bad execution of a correct decision if you want the correct decision to be made again.


It’s also worth noting that there are many things that can subconsciously influence what we decide to do in a given situation.  It’s probably not necessary to discuss these here though.  However, for a current example, I’m certain Mignolet would have been privy to information regarding Walters’ penalty kicks.

Summary

So if the system is truly the king, we need players who can combine with each other with a high degree of mutual understanding.  Every player needs to be able to predict what every other player is going to do in any given situation, however, this needs to be complex enough to prevent opponents reading our play, and fast enough to exploit situations of potential that arise.

We are recruiting players who compliment this approach (technical, othodox, quick thinking etc.) and loading our training with drills to promote the all important cohesion required.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2013, 03:55:45 PM »
Great read and I agree with everything you have said. We need to move past the era of where we have star players that we build the team around and our players need to be cogs that fit into a system that can be replaced by other cogs who fit.

The cohesion and fluidity shown in our attack was impressive and is not something we have seen many times under Rodgers. Was really impressed with Aspas, Coutinho and Sturridge. But you have to wonder what is going to happen to the cohesion in attack when Suarez returns due to his unpredictability.

Offline SpartanRed

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 04:33:54 PM »
Great read and I agree with everything you have said. We need to move past the era of where we have star players that we build the team around and our players need to be cogs that fit into a system that can be replaced by other cogs who fit.

The cohesion and fluidity shown in our attack was impressive and is not something we have seen many times under Rodgers. Was really impressed with Aspas, Coutinho and Sturridge. But you have to wonder what is going to happen to the cohesion in attack when Suarez returns due to his unpredictability.

Good OP.

I think that Suarez is intelligent enough to fit in but his unpredictability will actually enhance the system. 
His ability to find space where there is none or do something that causes a defence to open up is one of his greatest strengths.  There were times today when I thought that having him on the pitch today would have helped us to force Stoke to lose their defensive shape.

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Offline Gnurglan

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 07:29:29 PM »
How we process information is fascinating stuff. When you look for certain patterns and they are there, or not, it makes you wonder how others can't spot them. For us, who are very focused on the attacking game, we will need players to be creative, plus we need to have some predictability. That will put a high demand on our players' ability to read the game.

But isn't this a vital part in any system? When you defend, you want to know that everyone will do their part. And you create patterns for how to attack.

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Offline SerbianScouser

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 07:54:25 PM »
Great post.

For me the key is game intelligence. It feels like Rodgers is trying to stock up on intelligent and skillful players.

Today we were scarily good. We are talking about a team who outside of top 4 have maybe the best defensive record for years. If they are good at anything its organization and resilience, and we carved them open x times today. With intelligence and skills. All that without LS and potentially Willian.
If we were able to create all this good chances against Stoke imagine what we`ll do to teams who dont rely on their defence 100%.

Offline Hidegkuti

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2013, 08:51:23 PM »
Fantastic post - extremely interesting insight into the psychology of the player development..

I had noticed that players who had good 'vision' are also those that are able to dispossess opposition players by pre-empting their decisions - the number of times the likes of coutinho are able to nick the ball by positioning themselves where the player in possession is turning towards.. Your insight into the ability to interpret cues being intertwined with the perception quality ties perfectly to this..

Thank you for providing a framework to interpret one's observations - your analysis is very much appreciated... I have a couple of questions and would appreciate your opinions on them...

Would I be correct in thinking that by including more of this type of players into our set up our high press game would be more effective?

Additionally, in your view is a players 'vision' more or less determined by a certain age? Is it easier to 'teach' this at an earlier age? You mentioned the ability to do all the basics things on auto-pilot - would I also be correct in thinking watching someone like Luis Alberto running with his head up excites you, in a much more informed way than it does the rest of us?  ;D

How does a player like Henderson fit into this.  If I watch someone like Allen, I see a player who has that ability to pick up these cues, this allows him to make numerous interceptions, as does Lucas. However, with Henderson, he doesn't seem to have that ability? I'm sure you are able to interpret his game a lot better than myself so I would love to hear your opinion on him...

Finally, I guess the question we all have - will the arbitrariness of Luis Suarez's decision making be a positive to the overall system by breaking the patterns that the opposition get accustomed to or will it ruin our cohesiveness?
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 08:57:36 PM by Hidegkuti »

Offline Hidegkuti

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2013, 08:54:21 PM »
Ps: before anyone shouts at me - I personally like Hendo and really wanted him to start ahead of Allen today - but that's because I think he adds more in that attacking MF position  :wave
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 08:56:29 PM by Hidegkuti »

Offline rawKBottom

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2013, 10:01:45 PM »
Insightful.
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Offline Prof

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2013, 10:18:38 PM »
Fantastic post - extremely interesting insight into the psychology of the player development..

Thanks

Would I be correct in thinking that by including more of this type of players into our set up our high press game would be more effective?

Effective pressing is an off-the-ball function, so a player with lower technical skill could be an expert at this (dare I say Kuyt?), but so could a highly technical player.

Pressing as a unit also requires cohesion, and a coach who sets his team up as an off-the-ball team would also want  cohesion (Hodgson's approach is one which is built around this, and to an extent, so is Rafa's, but in a very different way).

Rodgers' team is about prioritising on-the-ball cohesion.  Therefore technical skill is fundamental to achieving this.  In addition, pressing as a first defence is also well-drilled in Rodgers' system, but I think (within reason) any player can achieve a high degree of competency at pressing as there are fewer prerequisites.

Additionally, in your view is a players 'vision' more or less determined by a certain age? Is it easier to 'teach' this at an earlier age? You mentioned the ability to do all the basics things on auto-pilot - would I also be correct in thinking watching someone like Luis Alberto running with his head up excites you, in a much more informed way than it does the rest of us?  ;D
'Vision' is something that improves with experience - which generally correlates with age (think about the database of memories).  As with most examples of talent ID - early development labels you to be 'talented' in this area, giving you more/better coaching and oportunities to develop this further.  To an extent, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You only have to look at players who play-on later into their lives and how the 'first five yards is in their head' to realise that it isn't so much about talent, but about practice.

There are certain things that I notice in players as I look for them.  Whether that makes me see players differently, I doubt very much, most people in the game would notice a player who played with his head up.  I mentioned it because it was my first glimpse of him, and it fitted the line of thinking I had about player recruitment.

How does a player like Henderson fit into this.  If I watch someone like Allen, I see a player who has that ability to pick up these cues, this allows him to make numerous interceptions, as does Lucas. However, with Henderson, he doesn't seem to have that ability? I'm sure you are able to interpret his game a lot better than myself so I would love to hear your opinion on him...

I love to see players who are aware.  As an aside - I also value mental robustness highly.  I rated Lucas very highly from the first time I saw him, and I rate Henderson as well.  Henderson is very technically competent, he is just less experienced at playing in this style of football when compared to some of the others.  I think he is very mentally robust - unlike Downing who signed at the same time (technically very good, mentally weaker).

I don't think Rodgers would sign a player like Henderson, but I think he is well on his way to learning to be a 'Rodgers player'. 
I will only whisper this bit - I think he has the potential to be a monster of a player (but I also thought Pennant was going to be top drawer - why he didn't is a whole different story).

Finally, I guess the question we all have - will the arbitrariness of Luis Suarez's decision making be a positive to the overall system by breaking the patterns that the opposition get accustomed to or will it ruin our cohesiveness?

This is the big question.

I think Luis is the wild-card.  He combines brilliantly when he wants to, and a lot of this is to do with trust.  He has read and played some exceptional passes to set up team mates and combined well in passing moves, but other times he 'chooses' not to play in team mates.  He is also on a different page althogether  sometimes.

My view is that he is better suited to being the final part of a move rather than being the play-maker.  If he plays the killer pass, or gets on the end of the final pass, his unpredictability is only the oppositions problem.  As his team mate, you'd need to accept that you'll miss out on service sometimes, but on other occasions, you'll make a run, and Luis will do something amazing to find you, just expect the miraculous  ;D.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2013, 10:28:20 PM »

But isn't this a vital part in any system? When you defend, you want to know that everyone will do their part. And you create patterns for how to attack.
Yes.  I'd argue that cohesion in defence is much more easily accomplished, which is why most managers will prioritise off-the-ball shape.

There are also much easier attacking patterns that can be adopted.  If you see my post from last year about zone 14, I talk a bit about lesser teams attacking up a wing rather than through the middle (I explain this in more detail there).  It's also why some managers will target set plays to get their goals, as restarts are easier to rehearse.

I think the approach we have is the one that demands the highest degree of perceptual skill in our players, but it also has the highest ceiling.  The point about player recruitment is basically saying that we are looking for different attributes than most teams are.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2013, 10:49:06 PM »
Great piece Prof, you're one of the few on here whose posts I will automatically read through in detail to see what they're saying.

Personally, I'm absolutely fanatical on the idea that managers need to have a system of control. It's the only doubt I currently have about Rodgers - he has an idea of how to play, clearly shown in the players he has bought and you can see some of our patterns of play and the way we attack. I'm just not sure yet if it really is a system of control, particularly in the Premier League where transitions are faster, occur more often and teams are often more physical.
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Offline Prof

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2013, 11:12:31 PM »
Great piece Prof, you're one of the few on here whose posts I will automatically read through in detail to see what they're saying.

Personally, I'm absolutely fanatical on the idea that managers need to have a system of control. It's the only doubt I currently have about Rodgers - he has an idea of how to play, clearly shown in the players he has bought and you can see some of our patterns of play and the way we attack. I'm just not sure yet if it really is a system of control, particularly in the Premier League where transitions are faster, occur more often and teams are often more physical.
Thanks mate, that's high praise from you, the respect is mutual.

I'm with you.  If I was going to reinvent myself as a football manager, I'd model my tactical approach on Rafa's, purely for the balance between control and attacking creativity.

The way I have to think about Rodgers approach, is if we have the ball, they can't score.  If they have to worry about us so much, they can't commit to attack.  I think it's essentially what Ferguson achieved at Man Utd.  I never looked at his teams and thought they were tactically astute, I just think they constatntly asked questions of the opposition.

Offline rscanderlech

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2013, 11:26:02 PM »
Great OP, though this is coming from a layperson!

On Suarez: I think a great deal of his erratic indiscipline and so forth could be tamed, or, rather, utilised appropriately, simply by playing him in an inside forward role rather than centrally as a number 9. His great strength is mad dribbling and as long as Rodgers can get him to stick to that role, where the team is not built around him, I think he would be one of the few best inside forwards on the planet, getting tons of goals and assists.

On the subject of 'control vs attacking creativity', isn't control exactly what 'death by football' is about? Am I missing something in the terminology here?

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2013, 11:41:19 PM »
Thanks mate, that's high praise from you, the respect is mutual.

I'm with you.  If I was going to reinvent myself as a football manager, I'd model my tactical approach on Rafa's, purely for the balance between control and attacking creativity.

The way I have to think about Rodgers approach, is if we have the ball, they can't score.  If they have to worry about us so much, they can't commit to attack.  I think it's essentially what Ferguson achieved at Man Utd.  I never looked at his teams and thought they were tactically astute, I just think they constatntly asked questions of the opposition.
It's an interesting thing the English game. For the constant bemoanment of being behind tactically and not having a national 'style' there's so much opportunity for one in terms of control of space. Mourinho did it with Chelsea, Rafa did it with us (though in slightly different ways). They looked to exert control in games and both did it through shutting of space and concentration on transitions. When Villas Boas went to Chelsea, he tried to do it with control of ball which he couldn't get to work because of the way the English game is. For all the talk from people of how the English game is the best because it's the most exciting, it's always seemed to me that we have the 'excitement' merely through the open dynamic of games and we have the open dynamic of games because teams don't know how to control.

For me, we're currently (and were in the last part of last season) concentrated more on penetration than possession. It means we have players who are mobile, creative, technical, quick and energetic. However it does mean that against some teams we can seem so concentrated on the result instead of how the result is achieved and waiting for the result to come about from that. It means sometimes we don't have control of tempo, it means sometimes we cannot handle teams who are physically stronger than us, it means sometimes we draw games against teams who do know how to organise themselves and keep their shape. That's the worry for me about our system.

Our system does look promising in terms of interplay and fluidity in attack and the way we now have a number of players in attack who can slot in and play well without causing us to lose fluidity. I just worry there are imbalances in certain places which cause inconsistencies for us and therefore hamper our ambitions to challenge for the top four.
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Offline Hidegkuti

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2013, 11:43:47 PM »
Thank you for the in depth response... And apologies for asking so many questions - but one rarely gets such in depth analysis (not even from lawro  :P)

So it seems you are both slightly apprehensive of the lack of control? Would a team that is obsessive with retaining possession not be deemed to be attempting to obtain that 'control'?  Did BR's Swansea and/or Pep's Barca not maintain control or do i merely have a non technical notion of 'control'?

If the answer to that is no, then what is the evolution of the team that would result in a possession based aggressively attacking team being considered one that controls the game?

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2013, 11:43:59 PM »

On the subject of 'control vs attacking creativity', isn't control exactly what 'death by football' is about? Am I missing something in the terminology here?
Death by football is about having the ball so much, the other team just get run into the ground.  I think LG's point is about the nature of fast transitions in English football.  If we play expansively and don't have a focus on controlling space like a more compact team, we are vulnerable when we lose the ball.

A counter argument to this is that Rodgers does control space by killing the early ball on transition.  I think it is the area of our game that will be the most interesting to see as the season unfolds.  It will ultimately decide how successful we will be.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2013, 11:51:40 PM »
Thank you for the in depth response... And apologies for asking so many questions - but one rarely gets such in depth analysis (not even from lawro  :P)

So it seems you are both slightly apprehensive of the lack of control? Would a team that is obsessive with retaining possession not be deemed to be attempting to obtain that 'control'?  Did BR's Swansea and/or Pep's Barca not maintain control or do i merely have a non technical notion of 'control'?

If the answer to that is no, then what is the evolution of the team that would result in a possession based aggressively attacking team being considered one that controls the game?
That's the thing.  As LG says, you can't have both all the time.  Aggressive attack is about taking risks with the ball.  Possession football is about keeping the ball.

The ideal in this approach is to play possession football, but when you attack, do it such a way as to prevent a soft transition.  If possession ends with the ball in the top row of the Kop, or in the net, you can't get caught out.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2013, 11:58:23 PM »


If we get top four, it will be from beating the lesser teams, particularly at home.  I think the well organised mid-tier teams will decide our fate, as we should have enough to win against the weak teams.  I think the well-organised big boys (Chelsea, Man City etc) will beat us more often than not.  They'll handle our attack and cause us problems.


Offline 007.lankyguy

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2013, 12:01:49 AM »
I would like to add that in my last post when I said that we concentrate more on penetration than possession, that that is part of why I think there is possibly a problem with control. I don't actually think we play 'death by football' as it were - we're not continually circulating possession and keeping the ball. We're concentrated more on creating chances than we are on control through possession. And that is partly my point about how I prefer (especially in the Premier League) a system that is based on control of space. The way we currently play doesn't necessarily mean we will always have the majority of possession, like Barcelona for example do. If we were to aim for that type of system we would fail, not only because we don't have the quality of player but also because of the nature of teams here. It's why I mentioned the way Villas Boas failed at Chelsea. You can attain control through the ball but it's hard to fully control games simply through possession here.

The way we play I would say is neither control through ball or space. We can dominate games and create lots of chances and we can 'pen teams in' for periods. However against certain teams you may struggle and certain weaknesses are shown. Maybe it's hard to fully assess it when we're clearly not the finished article yet - we're still hoping to challenge for the top four, not trying to win the title so there are always bound to be weaknesses and imbalances I guess.
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Offline 007.lankyguy

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2013, 12:04:19 AM »
If we get top four, it will be from beating the lesser teams, particularly at home.  I think the well organised mid-tier teams will decide our fate, as we should have enough to win against the weak teams.  I think the well-organised big boys (Chelsea, Man City etc) will beat us more often than not.  They'll handle our attack and cause us problems.
I think that's very fair and I think that is what Rodgers is trying to do. If we make top four, that's when maybe we start to concentrate more on the overall balance and control.
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Offline Hidegkuti

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2013, 12:29:06 AM »
I was just about to make a similar point... I was doing some very simplistic statistical analysis over the summer...

It occurred to me that if we split the league into 3 tiers (excluding ourselves), top 6, bottom 6, middle 7.

Top 6 - lose away / draw at home (6 points)
Middle 7 - draw away / win at home (28 points)
Bottom 6 - win away / win at home (36)

That gets us 70 points...

With this lack of control you alluded to from the majority of the league, I think the quick transition that is focused on penetration, is something that can definitely be advantageous to us.  For the last 5 years plus all i have seen Ferguson do is drill his teams with very simplistic patterrns of play but manage to win by overloading areas and statistically increasing the chance if scoring... An example being the number of goals that united score by breaking to the goal line on the 18 yard box line, and pulling the ball back is ridiculous.  If you repeat this simple pattern enough times and overload the area for that pull back you will eventually score.

So its interesting that BR thinks that additional creative forwards will allow us to potentially 'blitz' the lower teams and thus allow us to get over the line.  Additionally, i think BR thinks that by adding 'moments of genius' to a team (by increasing th number of players that are match winners) should allow you to gain points on games that are balanced...

I think what becomes really interesting to me is the case of away games.  The encouragement of the home support actually results in the home team playing a much more expansive game than they should at their level of ability and thus leaving gaps to exploit... I think the quick transition game we saw at the end of the prior season is indicative of this.

I don't think this occurs as much in serie A and other more 'tactically aware' leagues, so I think we may be at an interesting point to take advantage of this gap.  I also think that the Southampton game last year really made BR reassess how much control he is willing to overlook to just 'blitz' team, I.e the degree of balance that is required for that tactic to be effective.

The only problem I guess is that there are some very tactically astute managers in the PL now, who potentially may be able to counter this (Lambert, mourinho, pellegrini, AVB etc)

Do you guys believe that the controlled possession game is something that will come when BR's team develops over the next couple of seasons? I guess what I'm almost asking is that Jurgen Klopp evolved his high intensity quick transition team over the first couple of years to a more controlled possession based one... Is this something akin to the path we may be on..?

Offline exiledinyorkshire

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2013, 12:33:55 AM »
Great OP prof.

I'm loving the fluidity of our attacking, we seem to have a really good balance of penetration and support, added to relatively (stupid fullbacks aside) good width. It's nice to watch, but the defensive side of the game worries me, we still don't seem to press as well as I think we should, and our shape fills me with dread on transition.

Do you feel as much work is going into our defensive side as it should be. I know POP ha alluded to Rodgers building from the front but surely we need to be more compact than we are. At 1-0 today we essentially came undone but got away with it.

Still having said that on any other given Saturday we should have trounced them,  so I suppose there is not wrong with a system that basically tries to out score it's opponents. Perhaps my fears are perceptual in as much as I felt the same last season too, and we had the second most clean sheets in the league.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2013, 12:48:34 AM »
Do you guys believe that the controlled possession game is something that will come when BR's team develops over the next couple of seasons? I guess what I'm almost asking is that Jurgen Klopp evolved his high intensity quick transition team over the first couple of years to a more controlled possession based one... Is this something akin to the path we may be on..?
That's a very good post. Personally I think you and Prof just before have hit the nail on the head in terms of Rodgers' plan - blitz the lower teams and try and do the same against the mid table teams and we can put up a good challenge for the top four. After that, he may well develop the team into a physically slightly stronger team and one that uses possession more to control. It's would be a natural progression.

I think Ferguson really thrived on the open dynamic of the league and was able to use that to his advantage - this might not be that popular but he was very pragmatic and I think that was part of his huge strength domestically. The time he had problems was the mid 2000s when Mourinho came with more money and a better controlled system. We all know Rafa was close to getting him in 09 and imo would have done after that if it hadn't have been for certain circumstances.
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Offline rscanderlech

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2013, 02:10:07 AM »
Death by football is about having the ball so much, the other team just get run into the ground.  I think LG's point is about the nature of fast transitions in English football.  If we play expansively and don't have a focus on controlling space like a more compact team, we are vulnerable when we lose the ball.

A counter argument to this is that Rodgers does control space by killing the early ball on transition.  I think it is the area of our game that will be the most interesting to see as the season unfolds.  It will ultimately decide how successful we will be.
Okay, thanks.

This is where I think that our performance against Stoke yesterday stood out. We seem to have matured in our ability to reduce space, hunt in packs to close down passing options and intercept. Lucas and Coutinho in particular seemed to tackle or intercept so well, but Gerrard did a better defensive job than I remember him doing last season as well. If you agree with me on this, what what would you attribute it to? Is it a higher line thanks to Toure? Is it simply because of high energy levels at the start of the season?

Of course, Stoke are not the best attack in the world so I know that this isn't the biggest test that we'll get. I think that we'll get to understand things better when we play Aston Villa and come up against Mr Benteke, who was a right nuisance for us last season, then obviously clinical United.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2013, 02:35:42 AM by rscanderlech »

Offline kenworthy

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2013, 02:52:28 AM »
Great OP chock full of wonderful insights and food for thought. I particularly liked the your explanation of seeing and interpreting patterns before they develop. I see Coutinho and Gerrard as the leaders on the pitch in this regard. But watching the play today, with the players Rodgers wants and who have had time to train together and work on cohesion, you can see the rest aren't far behind. Very positive stuff.
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Offline Hidegkuti

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2013, 07:18:00 PM »
Following on from the discussion last night... I was thinking about a couple of points in relation to exerting this 'control' over a game...

Would I be correct in assuming the degree of the creative licence that a group of players have is inversely proportional to the control they have...? Because it seems to me (very much an amatuer) that those very structured patterns of play allow for more control but may result in being less creative and thus less penetration...

I guess this brings me on to something I have been thinking about recently. At beginning of BR tenure we were very much playing a intensive possession based game.  However, over the course of the season this was 'evolved' into a more direct transition based game. Now it seems from your definitions, the former would be deemed to be 'control' focused while the latter 'goal’ focused. What do you think the reason was for BR to make that very difinitive shift? Pragmatism? And if so do you think that is the way we started is still BR Utopic ideal?

In addition, if we are able to refine our high block and cut out passing angles for teams, would that not invariably decrease the quick transition and thus in some form allow us to control space.  I think there were definite remnants of a much more evolved high pressing strategy on sat, comparative to last year.  If this is done and we are able to transition quicker, then potentially we could have control with additional penetration?

(In which case - we're gonna win the league  :lickin

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2013, 10:27:51 PM »
Great OP prof.

I'm loving the fluidity of our attacking, we seem to have a really good balance of penetration and support, added to relatively (stupid fullbacks aside) good width. It's nice to watch, but the defensive side of the game worries me, we still don't seem to press as well as I think we should, and our shape fills me with dread on transition.

Do you feel as much work is going into our defensive side as it should be. I know POP ha alluded to Rodgers building from the front but surely we need to be more compact than we are. At 1-0 today we essentially came undone but got away with it.

Still having said that on any other given Saturday we should have trounced them,  so I suppose there is not wrong with a system that basically tries to out score it's opponents. Perhaps my fears are perceptual in as much as I felt the same last season too, and we had the second most clean sheets in the league.
Thanks  :D

Can you recall Stoke creating anything from open play?  I can't, and to me, that is due to the type of game they played.  They bypassed large areas of the pitch, and looked to win set pieces.  I didn't see us becoming undone, it is just a very difficult type of game to control for any team/tactical approach.

As for your comment about the full backs... I've been a big fan of Johnson's for a long time.  Technically, and physically, he has the lot.  Something, however, happened in the game yesterday which I think reinforces some of the points in my OP.  In the second half, Johnson picked a loose ball up after one of our attacks high up on the right.  He dribbled past two Stoke players into the box.  He ended up hitting  a cross into a pack of Stoke defenders, when moments earlier, he missed an opportunity to pick out an unmarked team mate (Coutinho?) 12 yards out.  He did all the difficult stuff, but his perceptual skills let him down.  I actually think he was attending too much to his dribbling, when he could have had his head up, or ears open a bit more.  I hope he is shown a video of that play, and then given a chance to recreate the situation on the training field, as it is something he does a lot.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2013, 10:34:18 PM »
Okay, thanks.

This is where I think that our performance against Stoke yesterday stood out. We seem to have matured in our ability to reduce space, hunt in packs to close down passing options and intercept. Lucas and Coutinho in particular seemed to tackle or intercept so well, but Gerrard did a better defensive job than I remember him doing last season as well. If you agree with me on this, what what would you attribute it to? Is it a higher line thanks to Toure? Is it simply because of high energy levels at the start of the season?

Of course, Stoke are not the best attack in the world so I know that this isn't the biggest test that we'll get. I think that we'll get to understand things better when we play Aston Villa and come up against Mr Benteke, who was a right nuisance for us last season, then obviously clinical United.

I think that is the key point.  We weren't challenged particularly when out of  possession in open play.  The tests will come with teams that are possession dominant (like Swansea and Arsenal), or even more so, built on offensive transitions (like Villa and Man Utd).

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2013, 10:49:49 PM »
Following on from the discussion last night... I was thinking about a couple of points in relation to exerting this 'control' over a game...

Would I be correct in assuming the degree of the creative licence that a group of players have is inversely proportional to the control they have...? Because it seems to me (very much an amatuer) that those very structured patterns of play allow for more control but may result in being less creative and thus less penetration...

Not necessarily.  Creative freedom doesn't have to be at the expense of control.  You need to provide a framework for the 'freedom'.  I would argue that no successful teams has complete 'creative freedom'.

What I liked about Rafa's 4-2-3-1 at its best was the platform it provided to allow creative freedom in the right parts of  the pitch.


I guess this brings me on to something I have been thinking about recently. At beginning of BR tenure we were very much playing a intensive possession based game.  However, over the course of the season this was 'evolved' into a more direct transition based game. Now it seems from your definitions, the former would be deemed to be 'control' focused while the latter 'goal’ focused. What do you think the reason was for BR to make that very difinitive shift? Pragmatism? And if so do you think that is the way we started is still BR Utopic ideal?

It probably is still his ideal.  I think the change came because he didn't have the players to execute it how he wanted.  We had a deeper defence, and a limited number of attacking players with the movement and technique needed.  He also needed results, and didn't have the time to build the level of cohesion needed.

In addition, if we are able to refine our high block and cut out passing angles for teams, would that not invariably decrease the quick transition and thus in some form allow us to control space.  I think there were definite remnants of a much more evolved high pressing strategy on sat, comparative to last year.  If this is done and we are able to transition quicker, then potentially we could have control with additional penetration?

The challenge in the Premier League is that a lot of teams throw convention out of the window and play for territory.  A team that bypasses the midfield is very difficult to control.

(In which case - we're gonna win the league  :lickin

 :-X

Offline groove

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #29 on: August 18, 2013, 11:31:46 PM »
Quote
Stanley Matthews wrote in his autobiography about his understanding with Stan Mortensen.  When he got around a full back to the goal line, he would pull the ball back to a specific place every time, and Mortensen just had to make sure he was there.

One moment of it working similarly yesterday I thought was when Coutinho played Sturridge through in the second half and Danny shot from a tight angle to make Begovic save. Sturridge drew his marker in closer to midfield to create space in behind that will still be "onside space". Then he span in behind just as the ball left Gerrard's foot to Coutinho.



Yep. Before Coutinho had even processed what was going on behind him, before he had even turned, before he had even received the ball, Sturridge was off and knew he was in. He knew he was in because he knows Coutinho almost inside-out already. He knows that Phil knows there's space to turn, because Cou is smart and aware and he also knows that he has the ability to weight the pass to him perfectly and do so quickly.

To me, this is real game intelligence: a natural understanding of your own, your team mate's and your opponent's strengths and weaknesses and how to move and act to get the edge on those things. Yes, you get better at these things with experience but really, especially since the two players we are talking about here are 21 and 23, I see the majority of it coming from a natural appreciation for space, angles, timing and problem solving. Football IQ. And I am definitely approving of us stocking up on footballers like these.

Offline Vulmea

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #30 on: August 18, 2013, 11:52:05 PM »
I'm not sure where the system stops and football intelligence takes over - - you can have systems that allow Bale or Ronaldo or Suarez to roam but the key is the players on the pitch need to adapt - does that mean you train them in every possibility or you train them to think for themselves?


does the system come first or the players? do you design your perfect system and pick players for that or do you pick a system for the players you have or can get?

if its chess then you know what each piece does, their abilities never vary, you can map out every possible move, and the more moves ahead the better - football isn't chess

 if you're italian you map out every zone, if your saatchi you even map out the distances between players and then you drill and drill and drill  and drill some more until movement and space becomes second nature  - you try and build chess piece footballers and they burn out, get bored, rebel - whether they are russian or italian..........I think Maureen does the same probably why he can't stick around longer than 5 minutes anywhere

or

you teach the players to know why  things are important, ideally you pick players who  already know, players who compliment each others abilities and styles and you develop a system that suits them to get the maximum from them with the minimum of compromise

or

you do  a bit of both - you provide a tactical understanding, you develop highly technical players, who can adapt and you try and react to cicumstances within a framework of possession based football

are footballers simply plug and play components? maybe they are -

I would like to see a return of the arrow head formation 9 players running forward in a V shape, with the ball, and wherever the ball bobbles to there's another man waiting to pick it up I can't see how it would fail
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2013, 03:14:48 AM »


You do  a bit of both - you provide a tactical understanding, you develop [or purchase the footballing services of] highly technical players who can adapt, and you try and react to circumstances within a framework of possession based football


Ludi Circenses!

Offline Prof

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2013, 11:47:33 PM »
I'm not sure where the system stops and football intelligence takes over - - you can have systems that allow Bale or Ronaldo or Suarez to roam but the key is the players on the pitch need to adapt - does that mean you train them in every possibility or you train them to think for themselves?


This is the key though isn't it?

A system dominated approach can be like a Hodgson-esque rigid football by numbers approach.

A player dominated approach can be like a Keegan-esque fantasia of wild, free Ginolas.

Or you can use specific players to 'be creative' with a system supporting them like Le Tissier in his luxury-player pomp, or the way Rafa used Luis Garcia.

Or, and this is Rodgers' answer, you can have a system built around players making decisions for themselves within a creative framework where cohesion is the goal.  A system dominated approach doesn't have to be a robotised approach, it can be a synergy of collective self-expression built on a subconscious understanding, where a group of individuals act and think as one.  The very essence of a team being greater than the sum of its parts.

Offline woof

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #33 on: August 20, 2013, 01:49:49 AM »
Much have been said and written about how great Gerrard is - his power, stamina and unerring will to win. The one area is falls short that would have made him an equivalent to say, Messi, is his football intelligence.

We probably need a few more players with good intelligence who can read plays and dictate the game with superb skills like passing and holding the ball. Coutinho definitely fits the bill. Not many English players have it though.

A good system can paper over certain cracks especially if the team is devoid of "intelligent" players. To win the league, however, you need creative players who can exploit spaces, dictate tempo or all the above. We laboured under Kenny (in his second season) because we didn't have creative players. It's not surprising that we got better as the season progressed when Coutinho came.

Offline rscanderlech

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2013, 02:12:43 AM »
Much have been said and written about how great Gerrard is - his power, stamina and unerring will to win. The one area is falls short that would have made him an equivalent to say, Messi, is his football intelligence.

We probably need a few more players with good intelligence who can read plays and dictate the game with superb skills like passing and holding the ball. Coutinho definitely fits the bill. Not many English players have it though.

A good system can paper over certain cracks especially if the team is devoid of "intelligent" players. To win the league, however, you need creative players who can exploit spaces, dictate tempo or all the above. We laboured under Kenny (in his second season) because we didn't have creative players. It's not surprising that we got better as the season progressed when Coutinho came.
This is the part of his game that appears to have improved the most in the last year or so. Haven't you noticed?

Offline Prof

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2013, 08:20:42 AM »
Much have been said and written about how great Gerrard is - his power, stamina and unerring will to win. The one area is falls short that would have made him an equivalent to say, Messi, is his football intelligence.

I'm not sure how you define football intelligence.

Gerrard has played and excelled in different positions and in different tactical set ups under different managers.  His football intelligence is pretty good as I see it.

This thread is specifically about decision making, perception and group cohesion.  Gerrard excels in all three of these areas.  You only have to see his combination play throughout his career to see this.  How many assists has he had where he has put the ball exactly where a striker needs it to finish with one touch?  Or weight a pass just right, so a defender can't quite reach it first?  Watch how often he passes a ball to a players strong foot, or knows when a team mate is in space.  His 'vision' is excellent, which I'd say is football intelligence.

I've often felt that Gerrard sometimes hasn't trusted some of his team mates, and has chosen to bypass them.  Almost like he knows they aren't on his level, or he feels that as he has to take responsibility.  He never had this issue with Alonso, Torres, Suarez, Owen etc.  He also doesn't have the same instinct and love for defending that someone like Mascherano has, but that isn't due to football intelligence, if anything, it's about discipline.

With more players who are on the same wave-length as Gerrard, I think you'll see him flourish.

Offline BreakfastPercy

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #36 on: August 26, 2013, 07:16:33 PM »
Only just got round to this but it's superb Prof, really nicely done! Also something have a personal favorite topic. Think it happens to tandem nicely with what i predicted in my Mindgames thread (not meant to be a plug!) where I said that patterns and the system took pressure off players needing to be 'confident', makes a lot of sense that it would take a similar pressure off decision-making too. I suppose the better the player the quicker they make decisions, but everyone can benefit from a crutch now and again, even the best.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #37 on: August 26, 2013, 10:33:22 PM »
Only just got round to this but it's superb Prof, really nicely done! Also something have a personal favorite topic. Think it happens to tandem nicely with what i predicted in my Mindgames thread (not meant to be a plug!) where I said that patterns and the system took pressure off players needing to be 'confident', makes a lot of sense that it would take a similar pressure off decision-making too. I suppose the better the player the quicker they make decisions, but everyone can benefit from a crutch now and again, even the best.
Thanks mate.  Reading your article did help motivate me to get round to writing this one.   :D

That dummy from Coutinho was a great example of a player with great perceptual skills.  Sturridge called for it, and Coutinho reacted.  It really is a difficult thing to do, to 'hear' that call when things are happening so fast and attention could be taken up by so many things.

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2013, 11:58:44 PM »
Great post , prof.

I'd like to (try to) make the distinction between game intelligence, awareness and vision.

Vision, for me, is a moment thing. It's a way of looking up the position of players on the pitch, their movements and making decisions about what to do next based on predicting where the players or the ball will be.

Awareness is similar but in some circumstances doesn't necessitate that the player do anything. For instance, not getting drawn to the ball, or getting pulled out of position, or not getting faked by the drop of s shoulder are as much signs of awareness as an Alonso goal from our own half ... just not as dramatic.

Game intelligence, for me, can work over longer periods of time for instance knowing when to shut up shop or switch or become more expansive. IE when to seek control of the game rather than "merely" trying to win. Obviously trying to win is the ultimate point of most games (but not all!) That's why fergie got done by Rafa so well because he knew fergies plan a and b is usually to go all out and attack. In some ways, Gerrards the same in that his natural instincts are to attack which reduces some of the intelligent options available to him in some of the matches hr played. It's something he's only just (this month?) learning how to do (and something Rafa tried to instill in him from day one - remember him getting subbed in the derby by Rafa?)

The last thing I would pick up on is the psycho-physical effects on players. As players get tired they lose concentration. As tension rises, cortisol levels rise and decision making is affected for the worse. What were, in the preceding 75 minutes, intelligent players can suddenly become Stokesque morons as their Football IQ drops due to their exertions.
There are probably lots of other tricks and tips within the game that we're not aware of to try and get psychological advantage over our opponents. Bill Shankly had a moment of genius in making our kit all Red. The colour of warning, the colour of danger, and the most tiring colour for the opposition to concentrate on.

Offline exiledinyorkshire

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Re: The System is the King
« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2013, 01:06:01 AM »
Great post , prof.

I'd like to (try to) make the distinction between game intelligence, awareness and vision.

Vision, for me, is a moment thing. It's a way of looking up the position of players on the pitch, their movements and making decisions about what to do next based on predicting where the players or the ball will be.

Awareness is similar but in some circumstances doesn't necessitate that the player do anything. For instance, not getting drawn to the ball, or getting pulled out of position, or not getting faked by the drop of s shoulder are as much signs of awareness as an Alonso goal from our own half ... just not as dramatic.

Game intelligence, for me, can work over longer periods of time for instance knowing when to shut up shop or switch or become more expansive. IE when to seek control of the game rather than "merely" trying to win. Obviously trying to win is the ultimate point of most games (but not all!) That's why fergie got done by Rafa so well because he knew fergies plan a and b is usually to go all out and attack. In some ways, Gerrards the same in that his natural instincts are to attack which reduces some of the intelligent options available to him in some of the matches hr played. It's something he's only just (this month?) learning how to do (and something Rafa tried to instill in him from day one - remember him getting subbed in the derby by Rafa?)

The last thing I would pick up on is the psycho-physical effects on players. As players get tired they lose concentration. As tension rises, cortisol levels rise and decision making is affected for the worse. What were, in the preceding 75 minutes, intelligent players can suddenly become Stokesque morons as their Football IQ drops due to their exertions.
There are probably lots of other tricks and tips within the game that we're not aware of to try and get psychological advantage over our opponents. Bill Shankly had a moment of genius in making our kit all Red. The colour of warning, the colour of danger, and the most tiring colour for the opposition to concentrate on.

I think they call this in game management. Probably more akin to tactical awareness than pure footballing intelligence, in as much as if you get hold of a kid early enough it can be taught.

We have seen good in game management this season with the ball being kept at the corner flag and what not. And Rodgers whole resting on the ball thing. Genuine game intelligence is decision making for me. I think for example Gerrard has tempered the Hollywood passes very well. It's why I knock Enrique and Johnson so much their decision making is slow an poor for me.