DAVID Flitcroft has joined up with The Bolton News to try to help the town’s young footballers become better players in his coaching corner.

In his latest instalment, the Bolton-based Bury manager comes up with interesting ways of improving the passing ability of defenders


AS I have said before in previous columns, we have to change our mentality if we want to change our football destiny.

I know personally from my experience at grassroots level, that at seven years of age if your son is a big bruiser, tall and strong maybe slow around his feet then he has to be a defender.

When that decision has been made for the player, then it is set in stone and he will be defender for the rest of his life.

Our English mentality is to pick a defender who can only defend. We only pick a player to play in defence because of his size and ‘defensive qualities’.

The parents of grassroots teams always want their son or daughter to play as a striker or offensive midfield player to get the plaudits and I have witnessed on many occasions reward money being given for scoring a goal.

In the coaching clinic last week I went into detail if we do want to change our playing style then it has to start at the back.

Why can’t we make it appealing for the so-called top or star player to be a defender?

Coaches don’t know how and parents don’t want it. We can. To try to become as good as coach I can be took time out to study American Football.

Specific coaching drills intrigued me, video analysis and performance analysis was at the forefront of everything they did.

Defensive work and offensive work was taught separately, but then linked with incredible precision by the head coach. The key component in the game plan is the quarterback.

Joe Montana, Dan Marino were masters of theire craft in their hay day. Modern quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are at the pinnacle of their career and are the best and highest paid American footballers in the world.

Their detailed execution of a pass, or decision on a play is the difference between a negative or positive result.

All the greatest football possession based teams have always had a ‘quarterback’ as a defender or centre-half.

This type of player will be recruited to play a possession-based game. When I sat down with my chairman at Bury FC, the vision we both had was clear.

It was definitive. We wanted to bring to the Bury fans a brand of football that was possession-based with a ‘style ' and ‘steel’.

Our first recruits were Jim McNulty, Pablo Mills and Freddie Veseli.

All three are defenders and they all possess great qualities on the ball.

Liverpool had Hansen, England had the great Bobby Moore. Germany had Franz Beckenbauer, Holland utilised Ronald Koeman, Spain have Gerard Pique to start their attacks and build play.

These players were specialists. Rio Ferdinand certainly fits in this type of player but is at the wrong age to have influence or future England performances.

All these teams had an philosophy an approach to play from the back, but they all needed the specialist to dictate.

This type of player would love to get on the ball, and showcase their creative ability.

They would love having the responsibility of being the player to dominate how the game would be played.

They had the tactical and technical knowledge and expertise to execute and turn defence into attack.

They dictated how the ball was and is manoeuvred around the pitch.

A way of developing a centre back that can play out from the back and step out of the defensive zone to create a over load in the middle third, is to section the pitch off into.

In the defensive third of the pitch you must create an over load. The coach crosses to the keeper on the floor or in the air.

He distributes to one of the free defenders and play is developed from there.