I had a player ask me why I pulled him out of the final this past weekend. He is the team captain, so I believe he is entitled to ask that question. He was not playing poorly, but I explained to him that we needed to manage the game a little better with a 1-0 lead. He was too anxious to get forward and at left full back I wanted a little more patience. The other team was tired and I wanted us to make them chase the game.
We are excellent in possession, so playing the ball forward too early never forced the opponents to shift, adjust and work. Our target was not holding the ball particularly well and the other team was winning the ball back too easily for me. The quality of his touch in the final third was also letting him down and as a result his service was poor. Counter attacks were the consequence.
I explained that I needed better decisions and a calmer influence on the game. The tone of the attack is started with building from the back, so if we forced it forward, the game did not develop naturally. As a result we did not have numbers around the ball in advanced areas of the pitch and possession was lost cheaply.
The player who replaced the captain was excellent. Calm in possession and got forward when appropriate. He actually assisted the second goal to kill the game off. We won the final 2-0, but what was more important is that the rhythm was established and we never allowed the team to believe they had a chance. It is very difficult to gain confidence when you do not have the ball for prolonged periods of time.
On a side note Patrice Evra is one of our favorite left backs in the world.