In our playing strategy we play with 1 central attacking midfield player, the number 10. Our number 10 is primarily part of our attacking unit but, when appropriate, is expected to recover to become part of our defensive unit. He has the freedom to carry out the attacking role when we have possession of the ball by virtue of our “stability box” which is in place to give discipline and organisation to our structure.
To help the player in this positions, and their team-mates, understand their role we have defined it as requiring the following:
Key challenges for the players in this role are:
- strong sense of position
- be positive and aggressive in attack
- recognise when to attack an opponent in 1 v 1 situations
- be good at seeing team-mates movements particularly when they’re attacking the space behind opponents
- have good first touch, passing, dribbling, running with the ball and finishing skills
- have a change of pace and the ability to play at different speeds
- balance and coordination (crucial for 1 v 1’s)
- decision making, when to go into space beyond – when to stay in support
- desire and physical capability to make driving runs to counter attack
- good communication skills with clear, concise, and appropriate information sharing
Out of Possession
The primary task of the 10 is to recognise when to, and have the desire to, become part of our defensive structure.
This task is:
- take an appropriate position to stop the opponent playing forward through your zone
- work with team-mates (7, 9, and 11) to cover space in front of our central midfield and central backs
- stop progress of direct opponent with the ball with aggressive defending (1 v 1)
- communicate clearly with team-mates when passing on or taking responsibility for opponents
- work with defensive unit to stay compact when appropriate (dropping off)
- work with wide midfielder’s and striker when defending high (pressing)
When we are in possession of the ball the 10’s task is to become the free player, unmarked, available to support, and causing chaos to give creativity and inventiveness to the attack.
Specifically the task is:
- be available for passes, usually from depth, wide areas, or the striker (set backs)
- assist in the creation of opportunities by successfully completing penetrating passes beyond the opponents back line
- run forwards, with or without the ball, when appropriate to help break the defensive line
- recognise when to drift away from the centre of the pitch to provide width to allow the focus/direction of an attack to be changed
- be always ready to threaten the opponents goal by shooting, dribbling, running with the ball, and getting into the effective finishing zones
- link with others to attack quickly when opportunities to counter attack arise
Across the Corners
Physically, while strength could be useful, acceleration, deceleration, and sprinting/running speed are key requirements along with the agility, balance and coordination necessary to change direction quickly (1 v 1’s), stay upright even when under physical pressure such as when being challenged for the ball, and to jump (to compete for headers and avoid tackles). These players will be very mobile and capable of running into spaces in front and behind the defensive line throughout the game.
Technically it will be important to be highly skilled at passing (particularly when playing penetrating passes), running with the ball, dribbling, finishing, heading, ball control and manipulation, receiving to play forwards (open body shape), receiving to keep possession, securing possession, link play, and to have an awareness of both space and the location of other players (ours and the opposition). Being able to recognise when to run with the ball quickly and aggressively will be an huge advantage in the counter attacking phase of the game.
Psychologically this player will tend to be a quick thinker, creative and inventive, be confident, capable of switching quickly between being unpredictable or disciplined, unselfish, determined, and have high game intelligence (for making good decisions). Crucially they will need to have high levels of self-belief in order to be always prepared to do the unexpected, to be unpredictable, and chaotic.
Socially the player will be a real team player, prepared to do the “dirty work” when necessary for their team-mates, probably more focused on attacking than defending, they will need to be able to build a good relationship with the other players to gain their support when making the mistakes that come with being unpredictable, but will be valued by others for showing the desire to be hard working, reliable and trusted to make an effort to be in the right place at all times.