The principles of quick, positive and clever attacking and defending processes are the same at any level. That’s why we’ll run this session exactly the same way in the Premier League next season as we did in the Championship this.
It’s an ideal session for a Thursday, when we’re looking to build intensity in time for the weekend. The sharpness of this practice leads into shape-based training on the Friday, then the match the next day. We’re not afraid to run this every week, because practice makes permanent.
It’s a good session for building confidence, and we saw this practice really come to fruition in our crucial 3-1 victory at Southampton in April, a result that all but secured us promotion back to the Premier League. Jimmy Kebe burst down the right and centred for Jason Roberts, who fired home in style.
What do I get the players to do?
Passing and possession warm-up
We start with a 6v3 possession game played in the space between the side of the penalty box and the touchline (1). The team of six must retain possession for 90-second periods. Good tempo is essential, with precise passing and lots of movement. We then rotate teams. To progress, if the team of three wins the ball they can break out of the square.
We now put two penalty boxes together, and set up players as shown (2a ). From the first pair, the left-hand player combines with the left-sided attacker, who touches the ball back for the inrushing right-side player. One- or two-touch, he feeds the right-side winger, who advances and crosses.
Infield players continue their runs looking to score in the goal – one near post, one far, one positioning himself for a cutback. Next come back the other way. On the next phase, play is sent to the opposite flank. Rotate players regularly.
Throughout, we expect quality passing and good tempo, given that this is unopposed. Strikers are encouraged to finish one-touch, and must stay onside. Wingers must vary types of crosses.
To progress, use two wingers to produce overlaps (2b). Play for a further 10 minutes. Next, allow the receiving attackers to play instinctively, without having to feed the winger. Players must still display good variations in passing, receiving and movement (2c).
7v7 Infield game
Keepers start, with teams having to construct forward moves using a wide player. Opponents will attempt to block routes to the wide men, so patience and intelligence must be shown. The receiving winger has two touches, and his opposite winger can come infield to create an 8v7 overload, but is one-touch. There are no offsides (3).
Now we run a standard 9v9 game on a half-pitch – channels are 2v1 in favour of the attacking team. The lone defender must slow movement, ensuring he stays communicates well with fellow defenders (4).