Part 1 – Rinus Michels’ Circulation Football.
Arsene Wenger had nurtured and rebuild since 2006/07 season with “Total Football” as their main style. After 5 years, the 2011/12 team is expected to begin to master what Rinus Michels called ‘ball circulation’ something not many teams can do. This article is an extract from that section “Circulation Football” in that book.
Rinus Michels: “Team Building – The Road to Success”
This strategy is distinguished by the ability to circulate the ball from player to player until the correct moment arises for the attacking phase and thus, the ball can be played deep. That moment can arise very quickly, but it can also take many passes over many stations. It places a high demand on the build-up qualities of the team, together with high-quality positional play. This is a tough assignment, especially if the opponents pressure you constantly.
Circulation football is linked to two guidelines:
- It is a means to be able to play the ball deep and not an aim itself.
– It has to be linked to a healthy dose of opportunistic football via for example, the lucky pass and the cross.
Fast combinations and excellent positional play are a must – Circulation football!
The coach who “forgets” these guidelines when playing circulation football, chooses to play boring football without many surprise, and thus easy to defend.
In the golden era of Ajax, there were able to perform this style to perfection, just as FC Barcelona.
In comparison to Spanish players, there were trained in the principles of this style while they were young players. A structural approach in the youth education system of Barcelona could lead to some success, but a top-team such as Barcelona will always be dependent upon the global market for its players.
KICK AND RUN
“The counterpart of circulation football is the refined kick and rush football as seen mostly in UK and Norway. However, top-teams from these countries are putting more elements of circulation football in their game. As coaches though, we cannot forget that the spectators in England enjoy watching these kick and run games. There is always something happening around the penalty box.”
Unlike watching 5 seasons of Arsenal’s Crab Football with 20 to 30+ passes around the box with the final pass invariably hitting a defender’s leg, body or butts.
Sadly, Arsene Wenger had under-estimated teams like Bolton, Stoke City, Swansea, Norwich, Tiny Totts, etc. which beat Arsenal using two elements, “kick and run” and “opportunism” plus surprising, the do play an element of “Circulation Football” as well, especially Coyle’s Bolton, Martinez’s Wigan, Lambert’s Norwich and Rodger’s Swansea. And the cruellest cut of all – Redknapp’s Tiny Totts playing more attractive football than Wenger Wunderkind.
The day that Arsene Wenger acknowledged that lower premiership teams knew how to play “Circulation Football” as well and exploited “opportunism” to beat Arsenal, is that day that Arsenal FC will beat all these teams at any time of the day of the week with its superior brand of “Circulation Football”.
Sadly, Arsene Wenger had forgotten our French Spine’s “Kick and Run” strategy that within four touches of the ball from box to box; an Arsenal player was in a clear position to shoot at goal. This is the 2nd Strategy of “Circulation Football” – play deep ball.
“Opportunism is the 3rd strategy for the build-up. There is a need in football for a surprising action in the build-up and the attack. This is possible through opportune plays. You need to have the courage in the attacking third of the field to sometimes “blindly” cross the ball and not choose to play a square pass or a backwards pass. It sometimes seems like they [Dutch team] only want to score a goal out of very elaborate combination play. Perhaps they will succeed at times, but most of the time it does not work.”
Isn’t it that perennial complaints against current Arsene Wenger’s team a “over-elaboration” and “attempting to walk the ball into the net”? That one through ball or visionary pass will do instead of indulging in 30+ “Crab Football” around the box?
And that was what Gibbs, Arshavin, Gervinho, Sagna and Walcott were attempting to do – crossing the ball from the flank. But it was awful and utterly predictable that opponents would just wait patiently in the box in anticipation for the predicted cross to swing in.
And Van Persie’s natural instinct is to come in deep, unlike a traditional centre forward with a predatory instinct waiting in the box anticipating the crosses.
How many times had we seen the balls flashed across the box or delivered into the box, without an Arsenal player in the box?
The team tactical guidelines for the final phase are:
a) Make sure there is an optimal force of players inside and around the box. When the ball is crossed from the right flank, the left forward is often still too far away. Cutting inside towards the penalty box is too often are also not performed.
b) An outside forward who is also a good header – but also a defender or a midfielder in that position – is worth his weight in gold. Again, it is a matter of specialised individual training and the willingness to work on this aspect as a player.
c) The teamwork between the central and the second forward is very important. Unfortunately, this is often not developed in great detail. This is also a piece of the team building process. The willingness of these forwards to gear their actions to one-another, to serve the best interest of the team, is a difficult assignment for them. They both want to score goals themselves. However, it is all about playing as team efficiently as possible. Usually there is one forward that anticipates first and the second forward has to react to these actions immediately.
d) The players in the second line, usually the midfielders, must quickly take up a position to be able to receive a pass being played back or to intercept a cleared ball.
e) The third line functions as the cover defence and must stay involved and ready to act.
f) Another guideline is: “never dribble unnecessarily into a wall of defenders.” If the ball is lost, the opponents will have an ideal situation to play the counter attack, because the players of the team that lost the ball will still be moving away from their own goal. When possession is lost in that situation, it will be deadly. So, when dealing with this wall of defenders, it is very important to act in a team efficient way. This is especially true for the men with the ball.
g) It is often annoying to see how even top-notch players can still kill dangerous looking attacks by not being alert enough in recognising the off-side trap. They only have eyes for the ball and themselves. They do not notice the actions of the opponents.
In this attacking phase, high demands are placed on the creative qualities of the individual players. However, guidelines are necessary to direct the complex traffic in the crowded penalty box, which ask for quick actions and reactions.
A style of play without opportunism will usually not be accepted by the crowd. It is too boring and sterile to watch.
The last sentence perfectly summed why so many Arsenal fans are disgusted with the 2011/12 team, and in de facto, with Arsene Wenger, and why Arsenal fans are now fractious over the role of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal FC with a growing number demanding his head on the chopping block.
We were extremely lucky that Van Persie was having a phenomenal season scoring 30 league goals out of 74 total goals scored or 41% of goals scored.
We will not be as lucky in 2012/13 season as we need a centre forward to work in tandem with a second deep-lying forward as in 4-2-3-1, or the Forward Trio starts to function as an integral whole in 4-3-3 to score 60+ goals
Item (a) to (g) perfectly summed up what ails the 2011/12 team; plus also why we can have a successful 2012/13 season.
That is, the key to 2012/13 success is really the Trio of Poldolski-Van Persie-Walcott developing a telepathic understanding, each player complementing each other style with plenty of blind-side running. One of the highlights of 2011/12 season is the budding telepathic understanding developing in Van Persie-Walcott partnership.
That is the rationale why I keep on repeating that we need to give Arsene Wenger another two seasons to build his Wenger Wunderkind into his 3rd and perhaps, greatest Arsenal team which can dominate premiership league and Europe by 2014/15.
There is no two-way about it.
Written by Merlin96
Titbit: Barcelona have again said they are targetting Thomas Vermaelen this summer, well they can target him all they like, he is going nowhere!