Corners play a big part in football, they can make the difference between winning and losing.
I went to many games last season in my quest to keep improving my knowledge of the game. Watching the top teams, the top players and the top Managers. How they set themselves up in their endeavour to win. I sat in different parts of stadiums to get a different view point other than the dugout. I found it fascinating to watch, I looked for trends. Always learning, searching to find an advantage.
Standing on the Kop at Anfield brought back childhood memories. This time watching Liverpool v Chelsea.
Attention to detail is paramount to success. I scrutinised many corners. The attacking and the defending of them. I kept asking the question Why ? Why had they set up the way they had ? What was their reasoning ? What had they seen to give themselves the advantage ?
On many occasions I went with my former Assistant Manager Andy Crosby or Coach Dean Wilkins. Always good to debate a situation during the game. Asking a question, looking for an answer, what is the Manager thinking of now ?
The quality of the delivery at corners is vital. For an attacking side, knowing the ball is going into an area and with the pace required to give the attacker the opportunity to score. Many teams seem to prefer the out-swinging corner to the near post area, maybe not looking to score from the 1st header but from the next touch. I preferred an in-swinging corner whipped in with pace across the 6 yard line. Just too far for the goalkeeper to come for and inviting enough to attack.
Watching Manchester City play Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium. An out-swinging corner to the near post area. Plenty of combat skills required in the 1v1 duals.
Winning a 1v1 dual, whether that be an attacker or defender can be priceless in gaining the edge. We were always looking for a mis-match in the 1v1's to exploit.
The levels of concentration required is important. Discipline to be where you're supposed to be and when you're supposed to be.
As well as man to man marking there are zones of the penalty area to cover. The near post zone area arguably the most important for the defensive team. If it's an in-swinging corner, the defender stands a step forward of parallel to the near post and edges a little closer to the post, as opposed to an out-swinging corner, where the defender stands a little closer to the 6 yard line. Small fractions that can make all the difference.
Do you have one man on the post or do you have two men, one on either post defending the goal line ? Does that leave the opposition with a spare man ?
Are you all in a defensive zone as defenders and attack the ball if it comes into your area. Does this give an advantage to the attacker as he can get a running start to attack the ball over a stationary defender ?
These are only a few of the questions that need to be worked out. What suits your team best ?
How do you deal with the team that has more bigger players than you, and likewise how can you exploit a smaller team than yourselves ?
Do you leave one, two or even three players up the pitch when defending ?
How can you improve your combat skills ?
Are you clever to create movement and blocks to get a player unmarked for a chance to score ?
Do you play a short corner to bring more defenders away from defending the goal area ? Who goes out for the short corner ? Is it one player or two ? We always made sure we had a man go from the post to then mark the corner taker once it had gone short, thus preventing a 2v1 situation.
Do you play a short corner towards the end of a game if you're winning to deny the opposition the opportunity to counterattack from the corner ? It's said in the Premier League you are very vulnerable to conceding a goal from your own corner !
As the Premier League season is about to start I'm really looking forward to watching again in the impressive stadiums we have around the country, in my desire to keep improving, keep moving with the times, always learning and enjoying my football.