- Several teams have attracted attention for having coaches who specialize in set pieces
- Even football purists want them to be as effective as possible now.
- CHRIS SUTTON: Erik ten Hag is still on trial. He needs more than incremental improvement this season to keep his job. everything is beginning podcast
The Premier League is blessed with football purists like Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mikel Arteta and more – managers who want to show why it’s called “the beautiful game” when they win.
But now they are as meticulous in set pieces as those who play percentage football.
Graham Taylor was a great advocate of the importance of set pieces, long before the game was full of specialists.
I played with Graham at Aston Villa and in October 1987 we faced Spurs in the League Cup.
We won an early corner and I knew exactly what to do. Taylor had me do plyometric training (jumping on top of boxes, jumping over obstacles, that kind of thing) because I was responsible for throwing the ball from the front post.
Set pieces are a tailor-made way of winning matches and every team is focusing more on them now.
Old school coaches, like my former Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor (right), who played percentage football, were a big proponent of the importance of set pieces.
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At 6 feet 2 inches, he wasn’t the biggest, but he could climb as high as the best. He came around the corner. There was no one in front of me so I turned it on for Alan McInally to head home after charging into the area. In this way we scored several goals.
Taylor spent hours perfecting these set pieces (sometimes at the expense of working on how we should play in and out of possession) because he saw them as a vital way to win.
Just like Dave Bassett and Howard Wilkinson when I went to Leicester. I privately renamed ourselves ‘Leicester Set-Piece City’ under those two.
Arsene Wenger at Arsenal spent time on set pieces, but it was simplified: zonal marking when defending and a series of agreed-upon movements when attacking. Wenger relied heavily on us to know what to do that day.
But today, even football purists are just as meticulous about set-pieces (pictured, Pep Guardiola with one of his coaches, Carlos Vicens, who supervises Manchester City’s set-piece routines).
Today, however, managers like Guardiola, Klopp and Arteta want the best of both worlds.
They want to win beautifully, but also not leave anything to chance on set pieces.