You’re down 1-0 with approximately 10 minutes to play. What do you do? As a coach, and a player as well, you have to understand a few things about how the game can be won.
It’s rather simple, the game is won and lost in the 18 yard box. A lot of good things need to happen in the middle of the field in order to be provided with the opportunity to score in the 18 year box, however the more time you spend circulating the ball outside of the 18 yard box, the less likely you are to score. It’s a fact you can’t avoid.
As a forward or a midfielder, one of your main objectives is to get behind the opposition for a chance at goal. Now if the opposition is playing a deep defensive line this can be difficult because any balls played behind them will run out or be chased down before your team can get there. At this point in time your options become limited, but there are options. Try to play balls to the feet of your forwards and attacking midfielders around the 18 yard box. If they can set up just outside or inside the box and get the ball at their feet, an abundance of scenario’s can unravel. They can turn quickly and shoot; they can lay it off to on coming players; they can turn and get fouled; and etc.
Alternatively, one of the realities are that you will have to cross high balls in and hope the someone from your team can get a head to the ball before the opposing team can. A perfect example of this is Peter Crouch who often plays very deep in the oppositions end and awaits high crosses that come in. It’s not always pretty, nor does it have to be, but it works.
So as a coach it’s very important to understand what type of team you have and what type of players you have. If you have very strong aerial players, then attempt to play high balls in. If, however, you realize that you have no hope in the aerial game, then continue to play balls in-and-around the area to the feet of your players who can potentially create a chance.
Don’t always assume that one tactic works for all. Believe in what works for you and the players you have. In parallel with that, create a tactic that will win games for your team, not for the Brazilian national team.
Here is something to think about: if, in your mind, you put the best team you could put out in the first minute of the game thinking they are the ones who can win you this game, why do we so often panic and turn away from this team in the last moments of a game? Again, believe in your team and believe in your players. If you show trust in them, they will more often than not reward you.
Former Liverpool coach Roy Hodgson said it beautifully:
We’re in an age of fantasy football and everyone’s a football coach; we’re seeking too often the miracle solution. What we’re really doing is throwing cards in the air. You’ve worked for a long period of time on a certain way of playing the game; trying to score goals and stop goals as well. So why is it that when we’re confronted with an unlucky situation, i.e., when a bad penalty happens, a 40-meter shot that no one could have legislated for goes in, or an unlucky own goal happens, all of a sudden all the work we’ve done is of no value. Now let’s completely change our tactic and sling balls into the box hoping for the best. I don’t buy it…stick to your guns.”