Charlton and Chelseas Matchday Football Tactics - Luck or Skilled assessment

I have just been reading an interesting bloggers conundrum put out by Frankie Valley, a Charlton Athletic Blogger.

Referring to the differences in Alan Pardews and Jose Mourinhos tactical nous he suggests that -

"football management is 1% perspiration, 1% inspiration, and 98% luck. You can put the same team out every week, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You could make the same changes at half-time every week, and get a completely different effect every time you try it"

It's an interesting argument and one that has received much feedback.

Here is my take based upon how I felt going into matches and what I saw at Professional Football Clubs.

By the time match day arrives, 95% of the preparation has been made for the game. The manager and his coaching staff have completed 95% of the work necessary to get the result.

Players have been prepared during the week, told their duties. The manager has done most of his work in the run up to the game. He has studied the opposition on tapes, watched live games, spoken to all his players who will participate in the match and advised them of anything to be expected or to specifically look out for on the day of the game.

What this means is that EVERY player in the team will have been told what to expect on the day of the game. Defenders will be advised how opposition attackers play, what parts of the field they occupy, the goalkeeper will try and study the oppositions penalty takers routine and try and figure where he will place the ball. In the event that the opposition has a Beckham in their midst, the manager and coaches will devise some kind of plan to protect the goal at free-kicks.

The pre-game build up during the week will also include ensuring the players are at the height of their fitness. This should include not draining the players energy too much during the training sessions before the game. If the team has travelled a long distance for an away game then the managers job is to make sure that he has allowed the players enough time to loosen up for the game. For example, after sitting on a coach for 7 hours on a Friday afternoon, travelling from London to Newcastle, players will be very stiff. Therefore a small training session is required to get this out of the players systems.

Another part of the preparation and vital part of a teams success is ensuring the manager has as many of his players available to him for selection. This means sensible management throughout the season so that he can pick his best team. No person personifies this more than Sam Allardyce, now at Newcastle United. Whilst at Bolton, Allardyce lost only 72 player days to injury, compared to an astonishing 340 days lost at Newcastle last season. It does not take an Einstein to figure out that more injuries to more players equals a poorer match day performance.

By the time Saturday arrives, I think that as Frankie says (and as my dad has insisted for many years) results can go many ways and any tom, dick or harry could make the team decisions. I agree. I think that this is very true because the nature of a football match is that there a million and one variables and no manager or computer can figure out how the result will go.

What matters is :

  • how good are your players
  • how fit are your players
  • how prepared are your players
  • how prepared is the team

None of the above is done on a Saturday. It's all done beforehand. So I would say that football management is :

  • 90% Pre-match preparation which includes the quality, fitness and preparation of your players and team
  • 1% Inspiration
  • 1% Perspiration
  • 8% Luck

If Pardew fails to deliver for Charlton this year it will be based around his ability or inability to get the best players out on the field in the peak of their physical condition and at the peak of their abilities. If he gets this right then the rest falls into place.

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