New soccer writer Stefan Hanley will be writing about all parts of The Beautiful Game from team and player profiles to on field play and tactics. Here’s his first piece for Hard Foul Sports on how the game is changing tactically.
Soccer has changed more in the last decade than in the four that preceded it. With growing importance placed on athleticism, and the lucrative rewards that come with European qualification, the stakes have never been higher for players, coaches, owners, and of course, fans.
Gone are the days of throwing your best eleven out there and trying to score one more than the opponent. Match film, massive scouting networks, and superior tactical awareness have all contributed to a game that’s far more cerebral than it used to be. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of ex-players and pundits, particularly in England, some of whom just cannot seem to accept that their coaching methods and philosophies are outdated, and in every sense, outstripped by the Continental method (which the US is beginning to implement at a grass roots level). Of course, the reaction from these dinosaurs is not to adapt, but to automatically revert to the “everyone else must be wrong” ideology.