View Full Version : So all you self proclaimed Footie experts can you explain this?

Len Ganley Stance
03-09-2007, 22:32
This is a genuine tactics sheet done by one of the top Premiership Managers (it's one of the regular top 4 teams) on what tactics his team should play.

The questions are -

1) Guess who the Manager is?
2) What was the game? - I'll give you a clue it's not from last weekend (that's really narrowed it down for you. Not)
3) What does the sheet tell as far as the team's tactics are concerned?

I have the answers by the way...............

03-09-2007, 23:21
I would say it's Rafa.Just a guess.

Game, Liverpool vs Chelsea.
The tactics are, overlapping on the right, feed the ball to the centre midfield ,strikers go through the centre or go wide waiting for the cross..


Len Ganley Stance
04-09-2007, 07:45
I would say it's Rafa.Just a guess.

Game, Liverpool vs Chelsea.
The tactics are, overlapping on the right, feed the ball to the centre midfield ,strikers go through the centre or go wide waiting for the cross..



You're partly correct. It is Rafa but the game is wrong. Plus you're way off the mark if you think that Rafa's tactical approach is to keep things relatively simple and straightforward as in your 'guess' of what the tactics sheet meant.

It didn't come as a complete surprise to me when I was told it was Rafa because the amount of scribbling going on on the paper, goes some way to explaining what all that gesticulating and arm waving that Rafa does on the touchline during a game. Considering the IQ and attention span of the average footballer, you would have thought that making things as simple as possible would be the way forward for Managers.

A couple of seasons ago, I did see one of Mourinho's tactics sheets before a game against Newcastle and it seemed far easier to follow. That was a two page document issued to the Chelsea midfield and strikers that showed an area of weakness in the Newcastle defense that they should try to exploit. If you had read that document and watched the game, you would have seen that Chelsea did exactly what had been identified twice in the game and won three-nil. The fact though that the particular area of weakness involoved Titus Bramble did beg the question though - "Why does it take two pages to show what every football supporter / armchair pundit / whatever knows, and that is that Titus Bramble is a rubbish footballer". I'll give Jose the benefit of the doubt though as the document was written in plain / uncomplicated / simple English, so he obviously had taken the average footballer's intellectual capabilities into consideration.

Anyway, returning to Rafa, the scribe (tactics sheet) was given to Lin (a Hong Kong Journalist), in which Rafa Benitez explained his tactical plan for the CL final in May 2007. As you can see (Plan) A, B, C. Next to these are player initials - K (Kuyt), C (Crouch) and is B (Bellamy).

The mark at the front represents what Kuyt would do. The MG or Kw was a question as to whether he wanted Mark Gonzalez or Harry Kewell down the left, but he chose Zenden. The marks in the middle are Mascherano and Alonso, and the job they had to do on Kaka and Seedorf. The up and down arrows represented what Benitez felt were Milan's danger - the wingbacks Jankulovski and Oddo.

The following interview was written by Lin, the chief reporter from Titan Sports, who had a chat with the said manager in Hong Kong. Here's the accompanying article.

Rafa: I didn't regret to front Kuyt

Two months ago in the Champions League final, Liverpool, the team who controlled the match, lost. Liverpool squad was strengthened in every department since Istanbul, while Milan is just a team that ages 2 years in every department. Unthinkable but there you go; Liverpool lost something that should have been in the bag.

Rafa Benitez, the Liverpool manager still cannot swallow the defeat. In the past 2 months, he could barely sleep. Once I started the topic on the CL final, the gaffer couldn't stop, like a secret he has kept forever finally to be able to speak out. I can't help but wonder, am I the only one (who's odd enough) to bring up that sensible topic for the first time?

In the CL final, Zenden was the weakest link. Why him? Like Liverpool haven't got a better left-winger? Rafa shrugged:" We only had 3 choices: Zenden, Kewell and Gonzalez. Gonzalez has speed but he lacks of experience, his condition wasn't up to it. I wanted to start Kewell, but how much time he spent running on the pitch before the final? I was happy enough to be able to put his name on the sub. Then, Who's left?"

"I mean" Rafa continues: "In cup finals, experience means everything. Zenden is an experienced player, he played in many big matches, for the club and for his country. I have to put those factors into consideration. As a manager, you can't predict everything. Who could have thought that Inzaghi scored a goal like that during the dying minutes of the first half?"

Many people have the same question; Crouch has scored 6 goals in the tournament, yet left on the bench in final? Why bring him on so late until there's only 12 minutes left?

Rafa took a deep breath:"We had 3 plans before the final. Plan A: start Kuyt, Gerrard playing in the hole. Plan B, start Crouch and exploits Milan with his aerial threats. Plan C, start Bellamy and let him run with defenders, play counter attack if necessary. Kuyt, obviously the most all-rounded striker we have, he can head a ball , he can run with defenders, his work-rate is unbelievable, he can even drop deep when we defence. I wanted to see how things go, then bring on Crouch to add dimensions to our attack if we can't score. But Milan scored in the dying minutes of first half, that totally ruined my plan."

"We needed to pull one back ASAP. Should I bring on Crouch at the beginning of 2nd half? I had hesitation. We controlled the first half so well; Milan had barely had a threat in our box because of our solid defence. Gerrard played well in the hole, we had created quite a few chances, and all we need is the final touch. So I decided to wait. Unlike 2 years ago, I needed to make a swift decision, bring on Hamann and Smicer, cos we needed to gamble. Well, this is football, last time we scored 3 within 6 minutes, this time we couldn't even find the goal "

Apart from the strikers, the wingers Rafa picked that night drew questions. Why not play Arbeloa as left back and push Riise as left-winger? Rafa explained: "Attack is the other form of defence. Milan usually initiates their attack with their wing back, with Oddo and Jankulovski to feed Seedorf and Kaka in the middle and Inzaghi forever waiting on the shoulder of the defenders. While I instructed Alonso and Mascherano to look after Kaka and Seedorf, they have Gattuso and Ambrosini to take care of Gerrard, mid-field was way too overcrowded, that's why I want to play aggressively down the flanks. Riise, he can't dribble and he's not the best man to play positional attack with a left-winger in front of him during attack that he can over-lap with, that's what he does best."

Then, the Mascherano myth, the man who totally marked-out Kaka, moments after the Argentine was taken off, Milan scored another. Rafa said: "To bring on Crouch, I had to consider the balance. Given the fact that we had to attack, if I don't take off Mascherano, who should be taken off?"

04-09-2007, 21:21
Very interesting read was that Len, nice find.

Not many tv pundits can get their heads around Rafa's tactics.When Rafa left Valencia the new coach came in and said to the defence on the first day,''play like you did under Rafa'' one of the defenders said '' under Rafa we played 3 different ways''.

The Mascherano myth,could be the only mistake Rafa did in the final against Milan,but like he said, who should he take off to get on Crouch.