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Salopian

What we are missing

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The Management have a bigger coaching manual than I have, they have collectively more experience and ideas, but perhaps I could advance a few simplistic suggestions to improve our performance, before the time to buy several players in the January window.

We need:
1) Commitment - this does not mean rushing in and tackling widly - we''ve seen that, but it means closing down opponents, running into spaces to receive the ball.

2) A game plan. We seem to have discarded the diamond, thank goodness, which was never going to work with our resources. It means looking at the opponents and working out how to stifle their strengths and exploit their weaknesses. It means that we do not put Flem at right back to face one of the quickest left wingers around, without making special arrangements.

3)Work on set pieces, both defensively and in attack. How many goals have we scored from corners this season, or free kicks? You just feel that the attack has ended when we are awarded the set piece. Conversely the threat seems much greater when we face a set piece

4) Work on defensive strategy, including tackling back by ALL the midfield. Work on keeping shape, playing offside together, covering one another, where everyone knows what is expected of others. It means having a goalkeeper who dominates his area, who can reach higher and further with his fist and is better protected by referees. It also means not defending too deeply. Wolves gave us a lesson in this!

5)Getting past opponenents with the ball - either by pace/dribbling, or by quick one-twos, passing and movement. A ball crossed from the by-line is more difficult to defend and easier to score from then a 30 yard diagonal pass, which gives defenders plenty of time to position themselves.

6)Shooting and heading practice - if techniques could be improved to keep the ball below bar height, even if straight at the keeper, we would have more chance of scoring.

7)Wide players with pace and determination to get to the by-line, if necessary supported by full backs, and central midfielders who are mobile, can control the ball quickly, spot passing possibilities, etc. The entire midfield must resist being overrun by the other midfield, closing them down quickly so even if an opponent beats a player he has no-one to pass to.

I could go on. My point is that several times this season we have failed against teams which man for man have no advantage over us, but who show us up by the preparation, discipline and commitment.

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