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Winning at all Costs

In recent years it has become quite fashionable to have a 'coaching philosophy'.  But what does that actually mean?  Put simply, it is a set of beliefs about how we should be coaching.  It could be around a tactical concept (i.e. tika taka possession football), a style of coaching (i.e. child centred youth coaching) or really anything else encompassed in the world of football coaching.


If you study the coaching career of John Wooden in any detail it will quickly become apparent that his philosophy was that, although he tried to develop his players for sporting success, he also tried to develop his players for success in life, placing great emphasis on character development.


At Onside Soccer all of our coaches are different.  They all have their own unique style of coaching but one thing we all agree on is that we want to see our players develop to their full potential.  How that manifests itself we shall see later on but, for now, we want to leave you with a scenario (panel on left) to think about.  Take some time to reflect how you feel about Barcelona's victory.

Once you have read that please follow the link here to an article written by Alex Clapham, an English football coach working in Spain and then move on to this article, written by Nick Levett, the FA's National Development Manager for Youth Football.  Both look at youth coaching in a different way.  Who do you feel has the best argument?

Think About It...

In the 2016/17 season Barcelona played Paris St Germain in Camp Nou in the last 16 of the European Champions League.  PSG had remarkably won the first leg of the contest 4-0 and seemed on course to ease past Barcelona into the quarter finals when the two sides met for the second leg.  In an incredible encounter Barcelona managed to get back into the tie, bringing the score to 5-5 on aggregate and, with practically the last kick of the game, scored the winner in the 95th minute.  Scenes of jubilation followed and Barcelona's performance was hailed as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. 

While there is no doubt that it was indeed a remarkable turnaround one incident in particular during the match opened up a debate around the merits of the victory.  In the 90th minute, with Barcelona still needing to score twice to go through, they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Luis Suarez.  Television replays showed that Suarez had clearly dived to win the penalty.  Messi scored from the subsequent spot kick, Barcelona scored again a few moments later and PSG were knocked out.  The penalty had played a crucial part in Barcelona going through but ultimately their victory was in part due to cheating. 

Do you think winning in this way cheapened their achievements that night?  It is possible to argue, of course, that players cheat all the time and that one side is as bad as the other.  It is also possible to argue that if Suarez hadn't dived they may still have somehow scored twice and gone through anyway.  These are both valid points but does winning in this manner reflect well on the club?  Does it reflect well on Luis Suarez, who had already been booked for diving to try to win a penalty earlier in the same game?  Does the result justify everything? 

These are questions that as coaches we need to ask ourselves - is winning at all costs what we want to do?  Does the end justify the means?

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