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How easy is it to adopt a new playing style?


TJVilla
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Firstly, apologies for what may seem like a long post, but this has been born out of one of the comments on the Paul Lambert thread regarding Roberto Martinez and the job he is doing at Everton. This is also not a pro / against Lambert post. It's possibly a more general question, although it does ask some questions of our training and tactics.

What I'm interested in is, how easy is it to implement a new style of play into a football team?

For example, the way Martinez is going about his business at Everton has to be applauded. Taking over from David Moyes (who was seen to be doing a good job at Everton with a rather defensive mind set), and matching their form with a completely different, more attractive footballing philosophy surely marks him out as a good manager? He must have demanded this from his players?

Conversely, David Moyes, has gone into a Manchester United side that is famed for it's attacking prowess, and is struggling, as he's implemented his negatives style on the team. I'm sure I read somewhere that some Man Utd midfielders were complaining that they were being told to stay behind the ball and not go beyond it, which goes against the way they've been playing for years under Fergie.

In terms of our play, Lambert has tried a few different styles with us, with the most effective still being the counter attack. We, as fans, still dream of a style of play akin to that of when we beat Liverpool at Anfield. This is the best I've seen us play under Lambert. We as fans want to be entertained. We want to see short, pressing, passing, attacking football.

I understand that changing the style of play may have a negative effect (especially if the players aren't of a sufficient quality to play the style you want), but surely someone like Martinez has proven that it can be done?

We all know footballers are a bit thick, so I'm not talking about the levels of perpetration and maps that Mourinho goes to, or demanding we play the way Arsenal play, but looking at teams like Swansea and Southampton, it's clear that they have developed a style of play that is attractive to watch, and with sufficient success. Even most Championship teams play better football than we do, irrespective of the abilities of their players.

Surely the style of play is worked out on the training pitch day in day out? So what I want to debate is, if the manager wants to change the style of play, surely all they have to do is insist on training the same way each session and wait for the players to learn through repetition? Maybe I'm over simplifying things, but I'm just curious as to what others think.

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1) We played far better football when we drew 2-2 at Anfield IMO. We were lucky to even be in the game at 0-0 last season.

2) Most teams do not play better football than us in the Championship. Don't be silly. I'd say 6 (maybe 7) do. There's a reason they're in the Championship and we're not.

 

It's not as simple as you're making it out to be. If it was, we'd play like we did against Liverpool every game. I think there's a number of factors and it's impossible to pinpoint anything without seeing what they're doing on the training ground.

 

What I would say is that Martinez had a group of players at Everton already who were good footballers. Certainly better than what Lambert walked into. And even that is simplifying it.

 

There's a huge issue in this country that small, technical players weren't wanted at most academies. They wanted big, strong players who were big for their age or faster pacy players. Some academies look for a different type of player (see, Arsenal, Southampton, Swansea) even Crewe seem to churn out players who decent technical ability. It's something that's being addressed slowly, out of necessity more than anything due to 1) the amount of foreign players from less-historical footballing nations who are simply far, far better footballers than us 2) our own deficiencies on the world stage as a national team.

 

Look at the teams who play 'good football' in this league. How many are flooded with English players? Southampton? Swansea? (sic: Welsh) 

 

Simply, English players are not good enough technically. Obviously these players work day in day out on the training field and it's possible to improve their technique. However, once you get past a certain age, it gets harder and harder to learn something.

 

For example, if you tried to learn a new language now, you'd find it far more difficult than if you learnt it as a child. The coaching needs to change in this country and hopefully it is/will. 

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I wasn't trying to imply that it was easy to change the style of play (far from it), I was curious as to how big a job it would actually be.

I completely agree with your point about the way British kids are brought into the game. The cloggers and the big lads get picked up, and the ones with a bit of flair and a lack of height get left behind. That needs to be a national change, not just a club change. The FA have picked this up far too late, and are trying to be reactive rather than proactive. Having said that, Crewe have had a great academy for years, producing good technical footballers. West Ham also. The problem here, is that any kid with a modicum of talent is rushed off to Man City / Chelsea / Liverpool / Spurs etc and rots in the reserves rather than progressing to regular first team football at a 'lesser' club.

I also take your point about the influx of foreign players into the Swansea / Southampton teams, but look at those players in question. If the intention (and that's a big if) was for us to change the style of play, then wouldn't you choose to bring in players who could play the style of play you wanted to play, surely? Also, Southampton do tend to have quite a lot of home grown players with a few foreign gems for good measure. Swansea still rely heavily on Leon Britton who was there when they were going out of the Football League.

I take onboard the point about the Championship. There's certainly a fair few teams who could 'play' us off the park, and a fair few who would go old skool and lump the ball to a big man (hmmm). That comment was perhaps in fear of 'if we went down, how would we do?' My belief, at present (given that we'd lose our 'better' players) is that we'd struggle.

As my original post stated, I'm keen to establish peoples views on this as this is something that I think can be used to 'justify' the long term objectives for the club. I remember when Houllier came in, and my first reaction was 'eh?', then I thought about it a bit more, and thought, if he could bring us a whole new style of play, then maybe it's not a bad shout.

Basically, no one wants to see hoofball anymore (even Stoke are trying to pads the ball a bit more), so the question is, how long do you think it would actually take for us to change our football philosophy?

Edited by TJVilla
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I don't think everton underwent that drastic of a change. The views on moyes are skewed because his time at Man U has been disastrous, but they could play different styles. The other thing, the key thing, is that everton had the personnel to play more of a passing game, and even them, their results haven't really improved that much on last year despite a large spend this summer.

Martinez isn't doing a bad job, and even equaling the job moyes did, as someone pointed out, is pretty damn good, but their change in style was possible due to a few factors that aren't really available at Villa, namely almost completely overhauling the central midfield personnel with McCarthy Barry and Barkley (lots more appearances) and having brilliant attacking fullbacks to provide width already at the club.

Villa didn't have that type of cash when Lambert took over to overhaul the squad with quality, and honestly, Lamberts Norwich sides were really, really entertaining. Even ask bitter Norwich fans and they'll admit that for the most part. Over time, Villa should become more entertaining, especially as quality is bought.

So I guess my answer to the question at the top would be, it's not that difficult if you already have personnel to play your system or can bring on quality players in key positions that fit the new style. It would've been a lot more difficult at villa than it was at everton.

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It took houllier 2/3rds of a season to get us to play different football and we were starting to get the hang of it.

Then we got mcleish and Lambert. Talk about 2 steps forward and 3 back!

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interesting question, but can't be asked in a vacuum.  It depends upon the players you are working with.  Their abilities, limitations, and intelligence will impact the pace of change. 


Cliffy, I think we were writing basically the same thought at the same time.  Very bad sign for your intelligence mate, sorry.  :)

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The club should decide upon an approximate style of play to adopt, and play the same way in every age group team up to the 1st team. managers who arrive take the job in the knowledge that they will not radically depart from this style of play. 

 

It's not a coincidence that Barca, Ajax, etc have a conveyer belt of youth player promoted to the 1st team.

 

Consistent transfer policy and consistent development philosophy is the only way to go.

 

What other kind of business would succeed if they required a complete overhaul of their staff every time they changed their managers (which they did every 2 years)?

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Finally a decent topic, and some well thought out responses. 

 

I agree with a lot of whats been said above, especially from StefanAVFC and KHV.

 

However what is the role of the fans?

 

I just dont think us Villa fans will ever allow a change of style to the first team.  The patience just isnt there. 

 

Ive been supporting since the 90s and ive seen quality midfield players such as Ray Houghton, Mark Draper, Petrov (guys around me at VP called him 'the crab') and now even Westwood all getting stick for passing it side 'sideways' (i.e keeping the ball).

 

I saw it on a match thread or somewhere one VT poster was saying at Sundays match it was a viscious circle of the crowd shouting 'get it forward, get it forward', before the same crowd moaning 'its hoof ball' when the players panicked and moved the ball forward.

 

Looking at other clubs who have changed their style over the years have their fans actually been patient?  Or has this involved a tough transition?  Arsenal are the club that has changed so much since the 90s - Offside calls, 1 nil to the Arsenal and all that; I cant believe that there fans are different to ours and have been patient.  I suppose it helps when you are winning.

 

My point is that it is hard for a manager to change a style for sure, as at Villa you are expected to get results.  Plus Villas traditional style has always been fast wingers, big guy up front, moving the ball from back to front very quickly - and modern football has now changed.  Or has it?  Pellegrini seems to be going back to this with City (again it helps having Aguero)

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Everton actually played some decent stuff last season, I think Moyes developed the teams style slowly but surley. Martinez has just added that bit of quality with 2 massive loan signings which is all well and good...but in terms of points and position they haven't improved. I'm quite intrested to see how well he goes next season.

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just on the Everton/Martinez point......while I think he has done well, I don't think he has done as amazing a job as people are making out. They are only 5 points ahead of Newcastle who are considered in turmoil (admittedly with a game in hand) and while the football is excellent at times, I have seen many games where their main tactic is to launch crossfield balls to Lukaku and he knocks it down or holds it up simliar to what Moyes did with Fellaini. That being said, I would rather be in their position than ours.....but a lot of their success is built on 2 great loan signings and a back four who know each other inside out (watch them when 1 defender is changed)

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The club should decide upon an approximate style of play to adopt, and play the same way in every age group team up to the 1st team. managers who arrive take the job in the knowledge that they will not radically depart from this style of play. 

 

It's not a coincidence that Barca, Ajax, etc have a conveyer belt of youth player promoted to the 1st team.

 

Consistent transfer policy and consistent development philosophy is the only way to go.

 

What other kind of business would succeed if they required a complete overhaul of their staff every time they changed their managers (which they did every 2 years)?

 

Depends what you mean by the club deciding, certainly dont think lerner and faulkner know enough about football to set a club philosophy and if they did it would have to be done throughout all squads at the club.

 

Seems that the manager is in complete control of football at villa and i dont think lambert has a set or preferred style as we've all seen.

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It took houllier 2/3rds of a season to get us to play different football and we were starting to get the hang of it.

Then we got mcleish and Lambert. Talk about 2 steps forward and 3 back!

I think that's wrong. We only started picking up points under Houllier when we reverted to counterattacking football in the style most of the squad had learnt under MON.

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It took houllier 2/3rds of a season to get us to play different football and we were starting to get the hang of it.

Then we got mcleish and Lambert. Talk about 2 steps forward and 3 back!

I think that's wrong. We only started picking up points under Houllier when we reverted to counterattacking football in the style most of the squad had learnt under MON.

 

This is the thing. Houllier tried to get us playing differently (most would say 'better', more attractive football), but it's hard to change playing style and while it's changing points are dropped. If Villa dropped an extra 6 points or so over a season while trying to change the way we play, we'd be in the Championship, so we can't make big changes to our playing style. 

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The club should decide upon an approximate style of play to adopt, and play the same way in every age group team up to the 1st team. managers who arrive take the job in the knowledge that they will not radically depart from this style of play. 

 

It's not a coincidence that Barca, Ajax, etc have a conveyer belt of youth player promoted to the 1st team.

 

Consistent transfer policy and consistent development philosophy is the only way to go.

 

What other kind of business would succeed if they required a complete overhaul of their staff every time they changed their managers (which they did every 2 years)?

 

Depends what you mean by the club deciding, certainly dont think lerner and faulkner know enough about football to set a club philosophy and if they did it would have to be done throughout all squads at the club.

 

Seems that the manager is in complete control of football at villa and i dont think lambert has a set or preferred style as we've all seen.

 

This works at European clubs where a Director of Football is pretty much the norm, but not where the manager still expects to have complete control. To do this we'd need a top quality Director of Football and managers willing to work under them, not easy to accomplish the the Premier League where most people are pretty cynical about the role. 

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just on the Everton/Martinez point......while I think he has done well, I don't think he has done as amazing a job as people are making out. They are only 5 points ahead of Newcastle who are considered in turmoil (admittedly with a game in hand) and while the football is excellent at times, I have seen many games where their main tactic is to launch crossfield balls to Lukaku and he knocks it down or holds it up simliar to what Moyes did with Fellaini. That being said, I would rather be in their position than ours.....but a lot of their success is built on 2 great loan signings and a back four who know each other inside out (watch them when 1 defender is changed)

Very well put.

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The club should decide upon an approximate style of play to adopt, and play the same way in every age group team up to the 1st team. managers who arrive take the job in the knowledge that they will not radically depart from this style of play.

It's not a coincidence that Barca, Ajax, etc have a conveyer belt of youth player promoted to the 1st team.

Consistent transfer policy and consistent development philosophy is the only way to go.

What other kind of business would succeed if they required a complete overhaul of their staff every time they changed their managers (which they did every 2 years)?

Depends what you mean by the club deciding, certainly dont think lerner and faulkner know enough about football to set a club philosophy and if they did it would have to be done throughout all squads at the club.

Seems that the manager is in complete control of football at villa and i dont think lambert has a set or preferred style as we've all seen.

This works at European clubs where a Director of Football is pretty much the norm, but not where the manager still expects to have complete control. To do this we'd need a top quality Director of Football and managers willing to work under them, not easy to accomplish the the Premier League where most people are pretty cynical about the role.

The British media is so afraid of new ideas and systems that overturn the norm, they hound anyone who tries new things. Makes it pretty hard to accomplish... But it seems like it's working in Germany.

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