I hope you enjoyed my last newsletter article, this time I have three thoughts for you again.
Cognitive biases and the influence on the feedback culture
This time I would like to talk a little bit about cognitive biases and their appearance in football. On Thefalsefullback.de I have already dealt with the outcome bias and also the confirmation bias. Those articles focused on the assessment of coaches and players, which is strongly influenced by these biases.
In this article, I would like to talk a little bit about the topic of feedback. The idea comes from this very exciting article, which refers to the book “thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahnemann, which you should definitely read.
“On many occasions I have praised flight cadets for clean execution of some aerobatic maneuver. The next time they try the same maneuver they usually do worse. On the other hand, I have often screamed into a cadet’s earphone for bad execution, and in general he does better on his next try. So please don’t tell us that reward works and punishment does not, because the opposite is the case.
People can’t think statistically in general. This example shows this very well. Because we try to establish a causal connection in any correlation, although many things are simply influenced by chance. In this example, the instructor assumes that his way of giving feedback has a direct influence on the pilots’ performance in the next training flight. While this is quite possible, it is more likely that the pilots had a breakaway in the previous flight and are now back to their normal performance level.
Our performance is subject to fluctuations, we all know that. Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes a bad one. Basically, we have an average performance level. On some days we overperform, whereas on other days we cannot call up our normal performance. Sooner or later, however, our performance will come closer to our average performance.
Therefore, it is a misconception to imply that praise makes the players worse and yelling inevitably wakes the players up and they perform better. No, this can simply be related to a return to normal performance. Correlation does not automatically imply causality.
That’s why I advise everyone not to criticize or exaggerate based on a game or even worse, based on the result. Try to support your players to keep an eye on the long-term development and use concrete examples to offer constructive criticism.
Why did the two-striker systems disappear
From the esteemed colleagues of Cavanis Friseur there is an exciting podcast on the topic of double-header or generally systems with two strikers. It’s really worth listening to it.
Inspired by Till, Sascha and Marco, I’ve been thinking about why two forward systems, especially the 4-4-2, becoming less and less common.
This question is actually not so easy to answer, since every 4-4-2 is interpreted differently and depends mainly on the individual players. Furthermore, one can of course argue that the 4-4-2 still exists. If Thomas Müller, for example, plays on the ten, the Bavarians will more often think of it as a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-2-3-1, because of Müller’s playing style.
However, this is probably now more the exception than the rule. There are various reasons for the disappearance of the two-striker systems. In the search for the optimal occupation of space in football, many coaches noticed that it is rather suboptimal to attack with two strikers and four midfielders in a flat 4-4-2. Not only the unoccupied tens room, but especially the occupation of the vertical lines is the main reason for this.
The lack of occupation of the tens area can still be compensated for by a dropping striker and a box-to-box midfielder. However, especially the occupation of the half spaces turns out to be extremely difficult. If you look at the 4-4-2, you quickly notice that generally only four vertical and three horizontal lines are formed. The half-spaces remain unoccupied.
Of course, the half spaces can be occupied by the winger, but this is at the expense of the depth in the game. Alternatively, a striker can of course also move regularly behind the last line, but then he is missing as a passing option in the centre.
In a 4-3-3 the occupation of half spaces and the creation of depth is much easier to accomplish without the players having to move long distances to get from their defensive to their offensive position. Furthermore, a better structure in possession is provided by the central midfielders.
Furthermore, it is intelligent to sacrifice a striker for a midfielder. Especially at a time when more and more teams are defending very compactly and pushing aggressively, you need players in the centre as well as in the first build-up line. Without creating a superior number in deeper zones, it is very difficult to overplay a compact and aggressive pressing.
Consequently, a second striker is probably unnecessary, precisely because many midfielders or wing players became much more dangerous regarding goal scoring. Especially midfielders who sprinted in are more difficult to defend on crosses for a defence because of the dynamics than two strikers who are already waiting in the box.
Interestingly enough, the two-man attack is on the rise again, but many coaches are creating a different structure in possession of the ball. Nagelsmann, for example, uses a triple chain in construction and lets two eights act behind the two leaders. RB Salzburg on the other hand likes to use a rhombus and thus manages to occupy the half spaces by the eights.
This way the two strikers are better connected to the rest of the team and a successful combination game is easier.
What do you think? Why have we seen so few teams play with two strikers over the last few years and do you think this trend will be reversed?
How do you try to learn new things? Are you more the video type or about articles? And what role does thinking about an idea and applying it to your team play in your own development?