Recently, journalist Joseph Sexton wrote a piece for the Southampton Evening Echo answering a question that was on the lips of many fans of the English premier league : Just who is Mauricio Pochettino ?
The former Espanyol coach Pochettino has a deep interest in youth development and I was asked to provide comment mainly based on my experience at the Espanyol academy.
The article can be read in its entirity HERE….
Here is my contribution to the article…
“There’s a clear divide between practice in Northern Europe and Spain, and you see this clearly at Espanyol,” he told me. “In Sweden, Britain, there’s too much emphasis on individual, isolated training. “You take one kid aside, get him to work on his dribbling, or his control, whatever. The thing is, I’ve never seen a player tackled in a match by a training cone.
“At Espanyol – and I saw this too at lower division sides in the area – it’s fully integrated.
“Forget the cones. Set up a bunch of kids in a match-type scenario, and let them work it out for themselves. “It’s the closest thing to street football. “Once the scenario’s over, they’re taken aside, asked questions, asked for their thoughts. This can go on for minutes. “Then you set them up again, let them at it, and see if they can do better; invariably, they do.
“This is the key – let them arrive at the answer, rather than dictating it to them. “This is how you develop game intelligence, and this is where Spain beats us hands down. There’s too much of a tendency in Northern Europe to breed athletes and isolated training exacerbates the problem.
“So you end up with guys who are fine physical specimens, even with great technique in isolated situations. “That’s great. But you also need to be able to apply that in matches, think fast, make decisions instantly. “I saw this right across the age levels at Espanyol.
“In Sweden – and Britain is no different – there’s an alarming drop in players’ capacity in this area once they hit 13. “Solving this … that’s our biggest challenge.”