FAN ARTICLE by Ayodaygee.
Hurray! It’s five in a row. Yes, it’s five in a row. Milan just accrued 15 points. Surely, this is championship form. Yeah…Seedorf has finally gotten it right.
Now with Milan, you can miss them playing and just by periodically clicking the refresh button on “LiveScores” you can be at ease. Why? This is because whenever we score a goal we most likely will win. Maybe, I should put it this way, whenever we go ahead we surely would win. So what’s different? Has Seedorf suddenly turned average players into champions?
This piece should come after our matches with Roma and Inter Milan. This is because this matches will be the true tests. However, regardless of the score lines I need to pinpoint what has changed in my opinion. If you know a little about coaching, then you know that a team can defend and win back the ball through different methods.
– Zonal marking
The “Man-marking” has so many variants and requires very athletic players with great recovery once beaten. This tends not to work best when you play against individual players that can beat two or three players at once like Messi. The “Zonal marking” relies on the zonal method of ball winning. Each player in a zone is responsible for winning the balls in his zone. This means that a left back has no business winning the ball in central midfield. You need very good positional players to execute this. The “Covering” method of defending is very astute as it’s also difficult to execute. Everyone covers for everyone. You win the ball together. You must all be astute. When well executed, it makes defending look so simple.
Now great coaches have added their own variants to all of this more like pimping-up a ride to classical status.
- Mourinho loved the Zonal marking tactics so much that world-class players have repeatedly been victims. Repeatedly, Mourinho complained whenever Ronaldo failed to track back into his defensive zone on the left side of the midfield. Sure, he could have lost is place in the team just like Juan Mata if not for his extensive contributions at the attacking end. As we all know, Mata was regarded by Mourinho has too lazy to track back.
- Guardiola a master of the pressing game also had his own variant. The pressing system is a classic variant of the “man marking” tactic. You could either mark opposing players using only a player on a player or you could spice it up to include two or three players on any opposing players on the ball. This is difficult and requires extremely athletic and fit players. Your players are expected to run a lot. When well executed, most balls will be won in the opposition’s half or just at the midfield.
- Ancelotti just like a few great Italian coaches believes in the Covering tactic of defending. It’s slow but intelligent. It requires less running but more thinking. It was a beauty watching the great Milan sides of 2002 – 2009. They looked slow but they were intelligent. When the team was blessed with players with pace, we could initiate counter attacks like a space rocket. Kaka takes the ball out of defence to Shevchenko and then to a Inzaghi to finish. It was for this tactic of defending that we all didn’t acknowledge that this team had aged because they kept thinking with their heads. We needed only pace in attack and when we lost it, we declined.
Seedorf’s early reign was characterized by extreme pressing. We were all impressed with how much energy we put into matches. But as the clock ticked on, the team got tired and we conceded goals. A tactic like this is best implemented during strenuous and heavily loaded pre-season where you can individually build up each player’s fitness levels and endurance. It was not wrong for Seedorf to want to play this way but doing it during the season was ineffective. Well, seems he realized this and re-oriented our defensive tactic towards “Covering.” As we all know, it’s five in a row. Maybe a goal or two conceded, less running, more intelligent play and guess what Taarabt is the new Kaka to get the ball out of defence.
This method when executed well is as deceptive as it looks. You think they are lazy or they are not pressing but they are working only intelligently. Watch out: Our opponents will complain on them doing the playing but Milan doing the scoring. This is why maybe, maybe Seedorf’s tactic will be triumphant against Roma and Inter Milan.