Sunday, June 27, 2010

Erik Gerets, coach VfL Wolfsburg

“You have to let the ball do the running, not the players”

“It is not important which system you play, but rather how you play within that system. You need to circulate the ball well and not shoot too quickly at goal. I come from a Dutch soccer background/ education and I try to explain this to my players as well. It is important that the ball is always moving and that the players can get away from their opponents. Its a constant game of coming and going. Always looking for the best areas to play 1 against 1, offensively as well as defensively. Players have to show good vision and insight, just moving around is not enough, you have to be clever and use the spaces provided.”

Way of playing
“You have to analyze your players’ qualities and develop a plan based on that analyzes. I prefer the 4-4-2 system with a diamond and the 4-2-3-1 system. It is important to play along the wings and that the number 9 receives the ball well in the center and that he distributes/guides the play. It is also important for the other players to join the attack in order to create scoring opportunities. During the opponents possession you must aim to create a competitive advantage by playing 2v1 close to the ball. We also opt for fast counter attacks, for example by means of long passes up field. But no kick-and-rush, only good, intelligent long passes up field. I like playing with 4 men on a line in defense, as I believe a 3-men defense is too dangerous when the opponent uses the wings and a 4-man line defense is more creative during build up.”

Wings or deep?
“The choice on whether to use the wings or play deep depends on the situation, but I don’t mind playing wide in order to lure the opponent forward. This provides you with the space to create scoring opportunities with quick ball circulation. You have to dribble at high pace and be able to pass the ball well. A long diagonal pass is also a good tactical solution, but I also live by the rule: ‘depth before width’, because the goal is located in the center. Whenever a good deep pass is played and number 9,7 or 11 can move effectively towards the ball, a good scoring opportunity will result from it. With all passing combinations it is important for the players to continuously move and choose a new position after their pass. You always have to make sure the player who has possession will have enough passing options. This is why we use a lot of passing combinations in our practices, also without resistance, in order to automate passing and running lanes.

Assistant and goalkeeping coaches
“My assistant coach is Reinhard Stumpf (played at 1.FC Kaiserslautern and FC Köln) and my goalkeeping coach is Jörg Hoßbach (played at Hamburger SV and VfL Wolfsburg). I worked with Reinhard at Kaiserslautern. He is my right-hand and is in charge of the physical aspect of the training, such as the warmup and coordination exercises. He is also the expert for speed and cardio/conditioning training. Jörg is in charge of the goalkeepers and therefore all goalkeepers’ related aspects. He also trains the U23, U19 and U17 goalkeepers. He works a lot on technical skill development, but also on speed and strength skills. For the psyche of the goalkeepers it is important that Jörg joins us in the dugout during games. I am responsible for all tactical aspects. We do a lot of positional games. I coach a lot on the tactical aspects of the game and evaluate the execution of passing and dribbling. Of course I am also responsible for the strategies during the game. We have good communication within the team, which is important for success.”

“Communication is a magical word in soccer. The players need to learn how to communicate, which is not only important for their psyche, but also for various game situations. Everybody has to help each other. As a defender you need to let the attacker in front of you know where you are and whether he can pressure the ball. This way the attacker knows he is getting back cover. The defenders and goalkeeper will recognize the situation and will know when the player in front of them will pressure the ball.”

“We train a lot on positional games and frequently repeat the exercises. I believe this to be important, because players need to develop automatically. You have to convey automatisms to your players, which they can also apply in the game. However, I also don’t want practices to become boring, fun is a must also at the professional level. You therefore have to try and find variations in the exercises and use these as well. I have to coach the team as a whole, but also engage in a lot of one-on-one conversations with the players, because tactical aspects are often better understood in face-to-face conversations.”

Germany and Holland
“Every country has its own way of playing and soccer in Germany is therefore different from soccer in Holland. The Dutch players play a lot from their positions. They will walk 30 meters to the left or right, but always end up back in their positions. This is narrowly intertwined with tactical disciplines. They also have great vision in the game. In Germany the focus is more on strength and cardio. German players are more likely to leave their positions and not as likely to return to them afterwards. They also use the long pass more frequently and they are usually good headers of the ball. In Germany a lot ofattention is put into game continuations, such as corners, free kicks, etc. In the Bundesliga a lot of games are decided on game continuations. I also think the German determination is a positive factor.”

Youth program
“I am very interested in educating the youth and find youth development very important, which is also a Belgian and Dutch tradition. I watch all U17, U19 and U23 games and try to communicate with and give my opinion to the youth coach responsible. I don’t interfere with their job, as they are well educated and responsible for their own team. I don’t have much time to watch the practices, but would like to as I find it very interesting. The youth coaches also attend my practices and games, which I am happy about. It creates a cooperation and communication between the coaches. We do not have one set system of play throughout our teams, everyone has their own system of play, which is good for the players as they will learn how to function in various systems. However, I do believe it is important that all teams play with a 4-men line defense. My wish is to play in a 4-4-2 with a diamond, but you do need 2 good strikers for this. Whenever you have a good number 10 (play maker), the 4-4-2 is a great system of play. I think you can start with tactical practices at the age of 12, as this will develop the kids’ game intelligence at an early age. It is important for a coach to pay attention to this by using a lot of positional and small-sided games. Always keeping in mind that fun is the most important thing, also in tactical practices.”

Build up
“The optimal build up starts with the creation of as many triangles as possible on the field. The player who has possession always needs at least two passing options. The players need to learn how to work together. When the ball is played along the wings, positions 2 and 8 and 3 and 7 must work together. It is also important that there is always back cover during build up and good ball circulation. You have to let the ball do the running, not the players. A long pass to player 9 is a good option as well, that is if you have a good number 9 who can receive the ball and hold it or take it with him.”

PSV and VfL Wolfsburg
“PSV and VfL are both industrial teams (Philips and Volkswagen). The big difference is that PSV has a strong and fantastic tradition. VfL Wolfsburg is developing little by little every day (the fans, youth and media). Both clubs are alike in terms of structure. Both Philips and Volkswagen want success and whenever a problem arises it will be solved within 2 minutes. I really like this professional attitude. There are a lot of possibilities at both clubs.”

4-men line defense
“I am a big fan of the 4-men line defense as you always have to look at the game in a ball oriented way. It also allows the defense to play with a certain level of tranquility. You have to wait for the opponent to make a mistake. You can also double team the opponent, but only when you create a good pressure situation. The key is playing with good back cover and the defenders must never forget that they can play the offside trap.”

“The goalkeeper also has to participate, always having contact with the defenders and always expecting the ball. After winning the ball they must transition fast and think offensively. Because the opponent will have to be organized yet the ball must quickly be passed deep or along the wings. Fast counterattacks are crucial. The focus during ball oriented defending is playing compact. The center has to be covered. The midfielders and strikers must work closely together and the two central defenders and the controlling midfielder must form a compact block. Good back coverage is essential and the players must coach each other in this. They need to recognize the situations and anticipate well. The central midfielders may not allow a pass to the opponents striker. Numbers 6 and 10 are responsible for this, they always have to be blocking the passing lane to the striker. The players have to be disciplined in their position, but also be flexible at times. They have to move forward (pressure), backwards (back cover) and sideways (help) at the right moments during defense.”

“You always have to force your opponent to the sides, except for when you can force them into a situation whereby you create a 2v1, in this case you can force your opponent to the inside towards your second defender. Sometimes you can even create a 3v1 situation. In these situations it is important that you force your opponent to the inside, so you can win the ball and don’t play it across the sideline with a tackle. In the 1v1 situations I always want my players to force opponent to the sides, because the opponent can shoot at goal or threaten our defense from the center.”

“It is important to bring every exercise you do with youth team (players) in game like settings. You must try to find exercises whereby you have a lot of ball touches. It is important to use small exercises in other to increase the repetitions, but also in order to learn the group and individual tactical drills. We used to play street soccer when we were growing up, which provided us with a lot of repetitions and created automatisms. Using small exercises will provide the players with similar repetitions and automatisms. It is also good for the coach as you can recognize the positive and negative things. You must not always discuss the negative aspects with youth, but also talk about the things, which are going well. The coach and players always have to communicate and the coach needs to ask questions. Do you understand what you did wrong? How can we do this better next time? The players need to coach each other as well, as small mistakes are often punished in small exercises. The players need to really use the width and depth of the field and need to be able to anticipate. Experience is very important here and the coach has that experience and therefore needs to convey this onto the players.”

No comments:

Post a Comment