Betfred Sport

Sunday football - Barcelona style (Part 2)

We continue to track the progress of our intrepid coach Jasmit Jabbal as he attempts to coach a Sunday League side in Barcelona.

Yep, that's a Sunday side in Barcelona. Jasmit's coaching is not quite up to the required standard to coach the city's most famous son Lionel Messi (pictured).

He reveals that one of the challenges he faces is that most of his players try to play like Messi...

Back to basics

When you are coaching players in their mid twenties, amateur players who are paying to play and giving up their spare time, it hard is to change their mentality and style of play. The thing is, they are playing for fun, so you have to maintain the level of fun, but at the same time nobody improves without hard work and dedication.

Being in Spain, the number one ranked nation in the world, in Barcelona, with possibly the greatest club side of our generation, it was only right we wanted to try to implement the ‘tiki taka’ model as best we could.

This means there is no room for ego, but a selfless style of football where the emphasis is on pressing and defending from the front, and keeping possession; created by playing simple passes and moving into spaces giving your teammates options.

Now obviously it is a lot easier said then done, we don’t have a Xavi or Iniesta in midfield or indeed a Messi who can win a game all by himself. But even the great Messi started somewhere, and that is what we have tried to implement in our opening training sessions.

So what have we done?

The basic elements of football are fitness and basic technique. The tempo of football in Barcelona, even at amateur level, is a lot slower and more deliberate. In England there is a tendency to get it wide and into the box, to play a direct ball over the top and to get a physical tackle in early.

Most teams will play a 4 4 2 with a target man up front. In Barcelona teams play 4 3 3 and try to keep possession and play their way toward goal. Therefore, we have stolen some drills from the Barcelona academy and created some of our own which focus on keeping the ball and playing it simple.

How have the players reacted?

The issue you always have with amateur players, no matter what country you are playing in, is that a lot of them are a bit deluded. They only remember the one good pass they played and forget the 15 bad ones. They do not think they need to listen and feel they know best.

In computer simulation game Football Manager you will sell them all and buy new ones, unfortunately we do not have that option so I have had to be patient and use my personal skills. The guys so far have reacted well but it is taking time to improve their decision-making.

Essentially by playing a Barcelona style system you make the decision for players as no 60 yard Hollywood pass is on. Two training sessions in and slowly we are seeing improvement.

What have I learnt?

Wenger is always going on about mental strength, Ferguson has said no player is bigger than the team and now Villa-Boas has stated the importance of the collective. The managers of the big two in Spain, Guardiola and Mourinho, have constantly stated how Messi’s and Ronaldo’s brilliance is owed to the team.

I have learnt that mentality is far more important than technical skill. It is easier to coach technique to a player with a good attitude and who listens technique, than teach a very good technical player to make the right decisions. If you have ever wandered why freestylers never made it pro, this is why!

It is early days yet, and a long way to go. Who knows, this may work out!

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