The art of winning

January 1, 2000

Ken Masters’

Web Watch

Apart from learning of this and that and finding a wide range of football websites that are very new to me, I am finding a wealth of interesting material on which to write about and comment on.

I think it is important to comment, whilst at the same time remaining respectful to the writers. It was never on my mind to simply regurgitate things. Also, it was always my intention to give you the opportunity to make your mind up about the issues of the day and on the opinions of others.

Thus far I have looked at various websites from what may be labelled ‘The Institutions’ although I would not put ‘anotherleague’ in that category. Even so, I did find that site to be informative, sensible and thought provoking. For this article I thought I would browse the official sites of football clubs in League 1, those that we have already met this season or those that are coming up in the next few weeks.

So what have our visitors this evening been posting over the last week or so. Remember that contributors to ‘The Pirate’ do write their articles a good few days in advance of publication.

 “Les Wants Players to Learn the Art of Winning” was a headline posted recently on the Tranmere site. Not in advance, or tonight, though Les!

Les goes on to say that the coaching staff at Tranmere are teaching the squad the art of winning. I read that there are a good proportion of players aged 21 and under at Prenton Park this season, so I appreciate where he is coming from. I have heard a lot of youth coaches say that it is not about winning games at U-18 level and below but developing players’ attitudes and abilities and I totally understand that. It is also about learning to enjoy the game, being respectful of others, understanding the team ethic and wanting to play as well in my view, but there does come a time when winning football matches does move to the top of the agenda.

I am sure many first team coaches and managers will agree with Les when he goes on to say that when you’re green, and you’ve got young players, it’s something you find difficult to get into them, how to win a game that is. Closing the game out and killing the game off is an art. It’s an art we want our players to have says Len. And there’s more from the Tranmere manager:

“I think it’s a learning process over time where you keep pointing things out they could have done when we watch the DVDs of games, like slowing the game up or winning free kicks. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s something they learn over a period of time.” We have a relatively young side here at Bristol Rovers, and so I was very interested in what Les has to say on the subject.

Apart from anything else I have a lot of time for Les, and those like him, wanting to work with and to play young players at League level. It has got to be good, not only for League football, but for international football as well. I think he is quite right in many ways. Some observers and commentators think the players should go all out for 90 minutes no matter what the score, or what the opposition is trying to do. Some see anything else as negative, not appreciating that the modern game has changed somewhat and so has the playing styles and modes of play applied to make sure of a three point victory.

Having said all of this, you do have to keep your eye on the referee to judge whether the game has actually stopped or not. Get this from the official Exeter website following what appears to have been an enthralling encounter down at St. James’ Park between the home side and Peterborough United; two sides we have already met this season; “Midway through the half Nardiello was withdrawn for Cureton, and five minutes later it proved to be an inspired decision as City took the lead. Whilst half the Peterborough team messed about with water bottles on the far touchline, Jones was allowed to take his goal kick and found Sercombe on the right. He marched on and with the Posh defence all over the place played the ball into Cureton in acres of space with time aplenty to turn and lash home from 12 yards out to make it 2-1 to City.”

Did Exeter see the game out? Did they take a leaf out of Len’s book? No, they did not, and we are talking 82 minutes here. What does the site say next about the game? “Then disaster for City, as somewhat against the run of play, Posh got a second fortuitous goal of the afternoon.” And from then on? “From then on it was playground football until the final whistle.” Does Les have a point do you think?

And Finally


The Football League website and the team of the week for last week;   

Congratulations and well done Hughesy.

Well deserved.


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