How we should play (6)May 09, 2016
"This is the last column in these series, in which I wanted to make clear how I would like to see how we should play at top level", Johan Cruyff wrote in his column in De Telegraaf. "I thought it was a good opportunity to do this and in the meantime to respond to criticism that I am always complaining about things, but never come up with solutions."
"That is why I thought it was not a bad idea to repeat the ground rules of our football. You all know now even better how I think about football."
"I especially hope that my message has come across that football is about thinking logically and keeping it simple. Unfortunately in Holland we have let this slip away. By making it more and more complicated we have lost track of the basics. The most important thing for a player is that he knows how to do the simple actions. I mean the passing, receiving, controlling the ball with his chest, being able to use his wrong foot and heading. In short, the basic techniques. These are all parts that can be trained by everyone."
"Take the correct passing of the ball. That is a matter of repeating it over and over. This might be boring, but you are training the most essential aspect of the game. The same goes for receiving the ball. It is boring to train this, but you make quick progress."
"Then you have to combine these basic techniques with positional play, with six against four the most efficient practice. As long as you keep the pitch between the penalty area and the goal area. With such a small pitch and with our players in the middle you are forced to play each ball quickly, with the right speed and simple. But when you have the ball, you need to have one player in the centre, one at each side of the short outside line, two on one long outside line and one on the other outside line."
"This is why I have introduced six against six in street football tournaments in Amsterdam and Volendam, while it will also be used in street football events that will be played on Cruyff Courts. And the four against four, seven versus seven and 15 against 15 then? As long as it is used to get people and especially children to play football, it is all good."
"But as soon as we are 'developing' talent, then only six against six will work. Because boys and girls will then learn the ground rules of the 'real' football without realising it."
"First, there are a goalkeeper and five outfield players so that you can play with three lines. These lines are so compact that you need to pass the ball correct to allow a teammate to make an action. There is no libero, because everyone is forced to play one-on-one, in attack and in defense.
"In this situation a player automatically will learn to keep an eye on his opponent and to cover for his teammate. Without telling him to do so, he is already learning positional play. This also applies for the goalkeeper. He not only has to stop the ball, but he also has to cover and sometimes has to contribute in playing."
"For street football tournaments this is perfect for kids 12 years or younger. And after that age you can always use it as a training exercise. Because it forces you to play in small spaces, one-on-one and use simple technique. You can forget about easily playing the ball around in defense. Just like passing the ball to the player next to you. So it learns you to avoid making the mistakes that many Dutch players currently make."
"The past six weeks I have mainly talked about the bigger picture. Situations that involves two or three players at the maximum. Because you play with 11, it shows how many possibilities there are in football. But it makes little sense to start about that when already the basics are wrong."