By Alex Trukan
Modern players are becoming more universal and adaptable to different situations and requirements. Defender is no longer responsible just for defending and striker’s role have evolved and now different types of strikers have emerged, who not only score, but assist, distribute and defend. Midfielders’ role has been probably the most multidimensional out of all the positions for many years. These type of players have numerous responsibilities both out and in possession of the ball. One of the crucial elements that can make a good midfielder a great one is his scoring ability.
Working off striker’s movements
The type and direction of midfielder’s forward run will be determined by the position of the striker who should move across the opposition back line and create space for the midfielders to run into. When not in possession of the ball, the midfielder should scan for the gaps (where is the striker) and position himself in a different space to be able to make a curved run into that gap.
The midfielders, therefore, are aiming to fill the gaps and use the whole width of the pitch to cause a problem for the opposition back line.
Runs from deep
Another way of getting into the box is a run from the deeper areas into the final third and into spaces behind the defenders. That is usually made by central midfielders when the opposition leaves the space between their defenders and a goalkeeper. Timing of the run is crucial to avoid offside as well as disorganise the defender (Who to mark? Who to follow?).
As we can see below, this type of run can also be made from wider areas, into spaces between opposition centre back and a full back. Strikers should be then positioned more in the central areas of the pitch to be able to finish.
Runs around the box
Movements around the box require more speed as well as unpredictability. Midfielders should be encouraged to position themselves on the blind side of the defenders and change direction of their runs to drag defenders out of position.
Playing in wide areas
One of the recent trends are runs of the wingers from inside-out. The starting position is then in the central area between the opposition units and when the ball is play out wide to the full back, the wide midfielder makes a run to receive by the side-line.
As the ball is in the final third and about to cross, the midfielder should then time their movements and change direction before arriving in the box for a cross. Body position to face the ball as well as the goal is crucial to be able to scan for goalkeeper’s position and finish effectively.
From a psychological point of view, midfielders should be coached to make positive decisions on and off the ball and be brave to go forwards and finish. At the same time, their understanding of when to go and when to stay deeper should be developed.
By Alex Trukan, Development Coach, Nottingham Forest