Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

You cannot sit, if you don't have a chair

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino says the team will tactically evolve but in his words, ‘you cannot sit, if you don’t have a chair’. ‘You don’t have a team but you expect behave like a team.’ Build the relationships first and then implement ideas.

Maurico Pochettinho when asked about Marc Cucurella’s role inverted from left-back:

This role we can implement in the future because you need to build the belief, the confidence, the trust, the team need to compete. All the tactical evolution that we have in our head, (the) coaching staff, yes, we will apply in the future.

But the most important thing; you cannot sit if you don’t have a chair. Before, you need to be in the chair. It’s true. You don’t have a team but you expect behave like a team. You are so selfish, after, you need to be generous on the pitch. It is the priorities in football. An engineer that is going to build a building, ‘I want to see so quick the nice furniture in the flat, and sleep there’ but first of all, we need to build the structure of everything.

That is why sometimes we made a mistake when we shush the show of the people, the coaching staff, and also we have young players. That is always be we say always be careful […] because the most important (thing) is to see in which moment we are in. Which type of team.

This is the exact point I was trying to make in my “A team versus individuals” post from early April. The players looked disconnected. Against West Ham, they looked more like a team. You can see the relationships building. And Cucurella looks great inverted.

It doesn’t matter if they score or win, if they are not a team, they will not be competitive. This is not tennis, this is football. It is a group effort. The team needs to score, not one individual. The goals should be spread. Players should be selfish but when a teammate is in a slump, they need to be unselfish and give them opportunities for the betterment of the team.

If the team do not have these relationships, they will never execute the tactic. These are humans, not robots. A lot of Pochettinho’s work will go unseen because it’s team-bonding. It’s not finishing, better passing, an inverted full-back, a different formation, it is people.

Figure 1.1 - Conor Gallagher moves out wide when Marc Cucurella inverts. Gallagher passes back to Benoit Badiashile.
Figure 1.2 - Marc Cucurella moves forward as Cole Palmer drops.
Figure 1.3 - Marc Cucurella continues moving forward.
Figure 1.4 - Moises Caicedo plays a wall pass from Nicolas Jackson to Trevoh Chalobah.

These rotations are the future. They happened in the past, and have continued in other countries, but the concepts are slowly creeping back into the clubs in Europe. Either full on relational play or a hybrid between relational and positional play. This is more of a hybrid currently.

And it’s not just two or three players swapping positions, it’s the entire team feeling comfortable in every position on the pitch. It’s a more expressive way of playing.

This is why I feel players like Cole Palmer look better in this side compared to the more positional Manchester City, because he has freedom to roam and dribble. It is a style that fits many players in Chelsea’s squad.

Figure 1.5 - Trevoh Chalobah passes to Noni Madueke and continues forward up the right-wing.
Figure 1.6 - Moises Caicedo moves wide to occupy the space Trevoh Chalobah leaves. Noni Madueke passes to Caicedo, and Caicedo passes to Chalobah.
Figure 1.7 - Trevoh Chalobah plays Noni Madueke in down the right-wing.
Figure 1.8 - Noni Madueke crosses into the box towards Nicolas Jackson.
Figure 1.9 - Nicolas Jackson lays the ball off to Cole Palmer.
Figure 1.10 - Cole Palmer slots the ball into the bottom left-hand corner for the goal.

Each player needs to be able to read what their teammates will do before they do it for it to work. The timing to know when to attack a space needs to be there.

Jackson has built a stronger relationship with Madueke, so he knows when to attack the cross and can better prepare his body to challenge for the ball. Cole Palmer knows to hold his run to sit in that pocket of space behind Jackson, because Jackson and him have that stronger connection to know where each-other is in relation to the ball.

It is a team goal. This specific goal being the most beautiful because it showcased the team and the way in which they were able to work together to score. 20 consecutive passes.

Figure 1.10 - Marc Cucurella rotates with Benoit Badiashile out-of-possession.

Those relationships that are built allow them to more fluidly move as a team. They need that trust. Badiashile needs to trust Cucurella to cover for him. Chalobah needs to trust Caicedo to read and cover for him when he bombs forward up the wing. You see players switching from side to side, left to right, Jackson tracking back all the way to right-back when defenders and midfielders get forward.

West Ham didn’t play well but you could see that confidence building between the players. When they have that confidence, at that point, they can attempt to implement any tactic they want. The floor, or ‘chair’, has been built where players buy in and work together, now you can ‘sit’.

Match: Chelsea 5-0 West Ham, 5 April 2024

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