Last week, Orville Higgins, a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS, had an article published in the Jamaica Gleaner, entitled Football Coaches, Formations And Styles. It said, basically, that formations, playing styles, coaches and ‘experts’ made football too complicated, and that ‘Coaching is really for lower levels’. That did not make much sense to me and I wrote a response, which the Gleaner published this week, and I reproduce below:
What is Mr (Orville) Higgins really discussing? He talks about how various formations complicate football. At the highest levels, technical skills are highly refined, as is fitness and strategic sense.
Formations fit personnel and tactical plans. If Mr Higgins thinks he can let his team run around with no idea of the roles each player should perform with or without the ball, I wish him well.
When you attack, the advantage is with you if you plan to spread the ball in certain ways that fit your strengths; likewise, when you defend and try to funnel attacks into areas where you are more likely to succeed.
The formations could all be the same, but that’s not the point. Top-level sports requires more than constant guesswork to succeed. You can see this easily when teams are broken down, as was the case with Brazil vs Germany in the last World Cup. It was clear that the Brazilians lost positional sense often and suffered harshly to a better organised outfit. In a way, that is the end of the story.
Managing, or ‘getting them to work together for a common good’, cannot take you very far at the highest level because most teams will want to do the same, so are neutralised. That’s when you need to have special players or special plays that can give the edge.
Style reflects using what you have to the best advantage. If you have a bunch of speedy, right-footed dribblers, you can play differently than if you have a bunch of plodding left-footed hoofers. Both may succeed or fail, depending on luck and ability to neutralise their opponents, and also simply by the regularity with which they score. Scoring is difficulty if you are not organised and if you think that just playing it around will do the trick. Maybe that’s where Jamaican football hasn’t figured things out.
If Mr Higgins thinks that having leaders who are just ‘good at managing people’, who ‘understands just the basics of football’ is all, good luck to him.