Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three things to take away from the first ever Liverpool Academy Clinics in Manila

This appears on the Tuesday, May 21, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

Three things to take away from the first ever Liverpool Academy Clinics in Manila
words and pictures by rick olivares tactics by liverpool

It was a treat to be able to attend the second day of the Liverpool FC Academy Football Clinics. Day Two was at La Salle Greenhills where I got to observe and sit down with academy coaches Philip Anthony Oliver and Colin Wilson who were conducting the clinics.

With a full sked on their plate and some 250 kids to teach, there wasn’t much time to teach.

“We base each session differently because we’ve never seen a lot of the boys so we use the first five minutes to gauge where the boys are at,” explained Coach Colin. “Then we work on passing, possession games, shooting. We want the kids to be express themselves on the pitch and that will allow us to properly assess their skills and capabilities. Expression also allows a player to be able to adapt to defenses.”

“We all have our session mapped out but it can be modified,” amended Coach Phil. “There isn’t one specific thing we teach. Obviously, we base what we teach on our core values on what we call, ‘The Liverpool Way’ that is our code of ethics and has been a part of the club for a very long time. But the core of the teachings is to keep hold of the ball, build up from the back then be creative and aggressive in our attack. Be very positive.”

“There isn’t one set of way of playing,” Coach Colin emphasized, “hence, the need for the lads to be very quick in assessing the situation and to adapt. Be creative.”

“The way the first team has performed this season and given life to Brendan Rogers philosophies gives us the credibility to teach these lessons,” said Coach Phil. “All throughout the clinics, we keep reminding the kids of three of our values that we want them to be a part of their game -- be positive at all times and maintain possession, build up from the back, and be very creative and aggressive in the attack.”

“At the end of the session, I ask the players what messages can they remember,” summarized Coach Colin. “Even if they can remember only two that’s a good start. Now hopefully, they can keep that in their minds when they play.”

A strong and dominant 1v1
In one of the main teachings of the day, the coaches harped on being dominant and strong in their 1v1. What 1v1 means is “one versus one”.

Success in 1v1 can be achieved with a quick assessment of the situation, a feint to send the defender one way then putting on a burst of speed to either finish off the play or find another teammate who is in a better position to score.

A) A midfielder finds a forward with a pass.
B) Forward has to quickly control the pass and to size up his defender if possible before he turns. The idea is to get him off balance with a quick feint to send him one way then either go inside (the middle of the pitch) or outside (the right or left side of the pitch) then move forward towards the goal.

It is important for the attacker to be able to beat his defender going inside or outside.

What is crucial here aside from the dribbling skills is the speed of thought. A quick and correct assessment in beating the defender can put the attacking team in a very good position to score.

Build-up from the back.
Liverpool plays a variety of formations. The 4-2-3-1 has been the rage of recent years but this past season, Rogers has given opposing teams different looks with a more unconventional 3-5-2 formation or as they showed late in the season, 4-3-3.

It is bold and daring because at the fulcrum of the attack is Steven Gerrard with attacking backs like Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson able to make the most of their speed and ability to link up on the attack.

Building up from the back allows one to see the whole field and the opposing team’s defense. Short passes will stretch the defense and allow the offense to pick apart a foe that is scrambling to dispossess a Liverpool player of the ball.

Staying positive: be very creative in one’s attack
Positivity breeds confidence and that is important in beating defenders and/or scoring.

A positive mindset is needed at all times. The defense will do all it can to dispossess an attacker. Staying positive after losing possession, after a failed attack, or keeping the defense guessing with smart football will go a long way in securing the win. Dribbling skills will allow a player to get from point b to point a which is where you want to go. No doubt the defense will have studied an attacker strengths and weaknesses and force one to do something he is not comfortable with.

“We’ve got nothing but positive reports to bring back to Liverpool from Manila,” summed up Coach Phil. “We’d like to be back obviously. And it’s good that the Philippines is receiving a lot of interest. Chelsea’s been here for a while and we heard that Barcelona and United have been here as well. We also heard that there’s a big following for Liverpool over here and that is nice to hear. Hopefully, with a strong partner like Standard Chartered we can do this again and reach out to more Filipinos. Who knows maybe one day we will see a Filipino play for Liverpool.”


Super thanks to Nimmi Kamal and Anne dela Torre of Standard Chartered! Extremely grateful for the help and the invite. And to my bro, Coach Alvin Ocampo! 

With LFC Academy Coaches Philip Anthony Oliver and Colin Wilson.

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