City quick to make the transition to new style
Saturday 22 August 2009
Manchester City may not be playing in the Champions League yet, but they can play like a team who are. Last Saturday's opening goal at Ewood Park was straight from the Champions League playbook. Less than 20 seconds after Richard Dunne cleared off his own line Emmanuel Adebayor was driving in the first down payment on his £25m fee.
Such a counter-attack is the most noticeable example of a tactical development which has become increasingly significant: transitions. In Uefa's most recent technical report on the Champions League, analysing the 2007-08 competition, Arsène Wenger identified transition speed as a "key element". Jose Mourinho stated: "Transition speed is vital. Quick transition is the most important aspect in the Champions League – quickly restructuring to defend, or exploiting the opponents with speed when the ball is regained."
Transitions, as Mourinho intimated, are the moments immediately after a team wins, or loses, possession. The reason is simple. Modern defences are so organised that they are hard to penetrate once in position. Even forwards are drilled in where to stand, and what body shape to adopt, when the opposition have the ball.
The answer is to strike while the defence are still, in basketball parlance, "zoning up". As Sir Alex Ferguson, whose United team are arch-exponents, told Uefa: "You must capitalise on the space in front of you. Quick penetration play has certainly become a trend."
Arsenal are also masters. Cesc Fabregas scored their fourth at Goodison Park just 10 seconds after Andrei Arshavin had dispossessed Tony Hibbert well inside the Arsenal half. Wigan and Spurs also scored on "transitions" this week and it is a trend which is only likely to increase.
Latest in Sport
Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw rise to the bait to deny they are the rumoured 'gay England footballer'
Chelsea 4 Tottenham 0 match report: Samuel Eto’o stoops to conquer sorry Spurs
West Brom 0 Manchester United 3 match report: Manchester United stick to the script as Robin Van Persie loses the plot
Arsenal 4 Everton 1 match report: Revitalised Mesut Özil breathes life into Arsenal
Transfer news: Micah Richards could fill gap at Arsenal with Bacary Sagna's departure as Manchester City contract winds down
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’