Grassroots Coaching

Tactical Changes in Football Players Positions Part 2


The centre of midfield is the engine room of a team. If a team can gain control of this area, then very often they control and dictate what happens in the game. The best teams always have world-class players in this position. They are often described as the orchestra conductors, the engines of the team.

•Central midfield players have to have good stamina to play in this position. It involves endless running from box to box, to pressure the ball, to attack and defend.

•They will need to be a strong tackler to win the ball back and have good passing skills to create opportunities for the forwards.

•Whilst they don’t have to be the quickest players in the team, they do need to have speed and power to make challenges and get to the loose ball first.

•They will also need an overall range of football skills, such as heading, ball control, passing, tackling, shooting.

•Very often they will be very competitive and good leaders. It is useful for them to have good communication skills and to be able to read the game

More often than not, the central midfield will have a specialist midfield player who tends to sit in front of their centre halves, forming a central defensive triangle. Their main role is shield their central defenders, by trying to block and intercept passes aimed at the opposition forwards feet. To defend the hole between their central defence and midfield and when they win or intercept the ball, to pass it simply to their key attacking midfield players. This can be a very unglamorous role, but hugely important for the team.

Didier Deschamps the French Captain for the 1998 World Cup win, was such a player and was once—derisively—described by Eric Cantona as “the water-carrier” by which Cantona meant that Deschamps only existed to pass the ball to “more talented” players.

Jose Mourinho’s instructions for Claude Makélelé were remarkably simple. When Chelsea had possession in the midfield area or forward areas, he was told “Never go beyond the ball”

The role of the holding midfield player provides the platform for other midfield players to break forward, both centrally and wide to support and run beyond their forwards. Attacking midfield players are also expected to contribute and require keen finishing skills

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