Football Management 101

Paul HandContributor IOctober 17, 2009

DUBLIN, IRELAND - OCTOBER 14:  Damien Duff of the Republic of Ireland attempts to score during the FIFA 2010 World Cup European Qualifying match between the Republic of Ireland and Montenegro at Croke Park on October 14, 2009 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Hello fellow writers. I am new here and I am writing my first article. It is about my experiences as a rookie football manager in Ireland.

I am a student in UCD, Ireland's largest university for those who do not know. There is an 11 a side student league called the superleague that is affiliated with the Leinster Senior League and FAI. It is a properly sanctioned league, although some compare it to pub league standard. I have played in the league for the past 2 years amassing over 35 appearances and 6 goals. Our team was extremely unsuccessful in this time losing 80% of our games. Although being on the losing team most of the time it is extremely gratifying playing 90 minutes and enjoying the company of friends afterwards, usually to watch Premier League football and enjoy some beverages. As a player one thinks of ideas about how they would run a team, I have gotten that opportunity.

Problems our team encountered when I was a player.

Under the teams previous managers team training was not taken very seriously. When we would get a run of games the team played well and could compete effectively. However upon returns from semester breaks we would not train and generally get hammered upon our returns. Losing 8-0 in our first game after the Christmas break 2 years ago was a bad feeling for me. What's worse is that it was a cup quarter final.

Another problem we encountered was players who were good but turned out to be poor players, let me explain.

Occasionally some of us would play 5 a side for fun. In doing this we found what we thought were some excellent players. In the 5 a side they were skillful and would score plenty of goals. Previous managers would play them and they would perform miserably. This is because 11 a side play is so different to 5 a side. The pace is so much higher, the workrate higher, the pressure higher, time and space are limited and the hits are much harder. To play 11 a side one has to be able to give and take punishment and be extremely fit to pressurise your opposite number, people who play for fun do not have these attributes.

My managerial tenure.

I took control of our club over the summer. With the league starting in late September I aimed to write the wrongs of previous managers. To solve the problem of slow starts to the league I organised some friendlies with other teams. The teams were mainly experimental, but the core of the team built up combinations and fitness, which is so important. We lost our 2 pre-season friendlies 5-2 and 4-0. However I gave game time to fringe players who are not of a high standard and tried out a 3-5-2 formation, which backfired on me. I also organised weekly training to improve our touch and fitness.

The league started off for us just 2 weeks ago. Our first game was against another team playing its first league game. A dominant first half display saw us 1-0 up at half time. Sloppy defending at the back saw us pegged back to 1-1, the first goal we conceeded from a set play this year (we conceeded none in our friendlies). Every player on the starting 11 played is heart out and our subs contributed too,  With 10 minutes to go, our right back had a 60 yard run and after beating the entire team had only the keeper to beat, unfortunately the keeper made a good save. With 5 minutes to go we were awarded a penalty. With regular penalty taker yours truly off, the penalty winner was left with the responsibility to dispatch the spot kick he won. An excellent save from their keeper saw the game remain tied. Shortly after, a quick counter attack and good passing move saw the opposition get a chance at goal. An excellently struck and ferocious shot nestled in the bottom corner. With 2 minutes to go, we still created chances and never took their foot off the gas. A defeat, but our heads can remain held high. Unusually for the superleague, the ref had an excellent game, despite somebody stealing his whistle while he bought his breakfast roll before kick off.

Our second game was just on Wednesday night. The opposition was an experienced team, together 5 years compared to our 3. Our opponents started at a ferocious pace and took the lead twice in the first half. We pegged them back both times and it was 2-2 at half time. An incident in the seond half was hugely important. An opposition player put in a horrible tackle. Our player lashed out. Both were sent off. The oppositions quick start was taking its toll. We controlled the entire second half due to our superior fitness. We scored twice in the scond half, one a free kick another a rebound from a free kick scored by yours truly. We are now 8th in the league (out of 17). We should finish higher than our bottom 2 placed finishes we did the previous 2 years.

In the games I employed a 4-4-1-1 formation. The support striker tracked back in midfield giving us a good defensive steel and solid midfield. Our next game is Wednesday, against former 2 times superleague champions. I know its not the premier league but I am enjoying my tenure as manger. Although I love to watch the beautiful game, playing and managing is of huge importance to my life.