How do they think, what drives them, why are they successful? A glimpse into the soul of a top trainer based on collected interviews, observations and video fragments. This time Johan Cruijff, who died three years ago, wanted to keep football very simple with radical ideas.
Football starts with thinking
If the opponent is good at corners, what do you do? Then you have to make sure you don’t get any corners against it! It’s that simple, right? You must ensure that if you have the ball, you do not play football where the qualities of the opponent lie. If the left back is good and fast, then you is not going to put down deep balls on that side, are you? That is the tactic from, how do we make a goal. There’s only one ball in play, and if we have it, they don’t have it. And so you can bring everything in a fun way! With the correct score tips this is important.
- Jaap Stam is a great defender, you don’t pass that easily. He always makes it difficult for the opponent’s striker. If Stam is in shape, you don’t really have a chance. It is pointless to duel with such players, you will not win. You should let such a player swim, he doesn’t like that and usually not the best players are constructive. You remove the positive influences of such a player and you confront him with his negative sides. That is very annoying for a player.
- What do you have to do then? Very simple: get that striker out of there. Leave Stam alone. Then Stam has to do something with all that space around him. Then he starts walking. And you get new opportunities elsewhere.
From Johan Cruijff’s booklet: get that striker out of there
Nine out of ten people really don’t know what tactics are. To my surprise, people are always talking about numbers. ‘Cruijff plays 3-4-3. ”Three lines? My teams always consisted of seven lines! For us, tactics are using your options against the negative aspects of the opponent. If the opposing team has one very good defender, who is in the middle, then we don’t set up a striker. That is tactic. Or that right back is very fast, do we put a fast or a slow player in front of it? You can play as attacking and defensive as you want. That is tactic and not whether you play behind or in front with twelve men.
A concept is something dead
Within a concept you can apply a huge number of nuances. We always say you should get the benefits wherever you can. You can let a winger play while hanging, but then the last man of the opponent does not have to move away from his position to cover his back. If he plays sharply, he should. Then either the striker or the winger plays one-on-one. But it could also be that their center-back is really bad about his left leg. Then it is better for the right winger to linger a bit, so that he pulls that back along and the striker has more room to pass that center defender over that left leg.
In football there are certain laws. One law is: you should let a bad player play badly. This can only be done by increasing the rhythm. If you can’t play football, but you get a ball that you can stop, that jumps three meters from your feet and that you can still play, then nobody will notice that you cannot do anything about it. So you shouldn’t give someone that time.
The midfield is the scales of your team. If you play with two midfielders and the opponent with four, you never win. If you keep four people in the back against one striker, you are somewhere short of two. So I’ve always played with one more defender than the opponent’s strikers had.