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The K League Coach: Round 2

After discussing zonal vs man marking last week The K League Coach looks at how communication, good and bad, can have a huge impact on a team. Taking a look at some notable examples from round two of the 2018 K League 1 season, The KLU Coach pinpoints where errors were made and how they could have been avoided.
(image via Incheon United)

Communication Breakdown

This week’s games offered K League viewers a chance to consider some of the less tangible aspects of the game. When a coach identifies an area for improved performance, whether it be as a team or as an individual, the required adjustment will be broken down into five aspects. Each topic is made up of technical, tactical, physical, social and psychological skills, and the coach needs to understand each aspect and how it must be applied to achieve peak performance.

The social and psychological aspects of the game are much harder to quantify and place into match stats but are equally important if a team wishes to be successful. There are no OPTA stats on how a player handles pressure or how effectively they organise the team. Yet these skills are highly sort after and can be the difference maker in games. This weeks K League games showed how poor communication can cost teams dearly.

Long throw chaos

To anyone who has followed the fortunes of Stoke City in the English Premier League over the past 10 years, it will be very clear how much panic and confusion a long throw-in can cause. This was utilised by Suwon Bluewings to, essentially up the game to bed by doubling their lead over Deagu. In theory, a professional player should be able to track the flight of a ball and head it clear yet the psychological pressure that often comes with long throw can lead to panic and poor decisions. The Daegu defence failed to communicate with one another and two defenders challenged for the same ball, leading to them both missing it. The long throw went right across the box and ended up with a shot from Park Hyunjin, and after coming back off the post, Lim Sanghyeob tucked away the rebound.

Dealing with Crosses

Failing to effectively communicate gave Jeonbuk Hyundai's Adriano his first K League goal of the season. As the ball was crossed in from the Jeonbuk left wing, goalkeeper Lee Taehee and centre back Bunoza failed to communicate and collided with one another, allowing the ball to drop at the feet of the Brazilian. There was no Jeonbuk player challenging for the initial cross, but as the two Incheon men both threw themselves at the ball they only managed to hit one another. Better communication between the two and the ball could have been headed clear or collected by the goalkeeper.

Long Ball trouble

However, relief was to come for both Lee and Buonza in the form of a similar mistake at the heart of the Jeonbuk defence. A simple long ball over the top resulted in a tap in for Moon Seon-Min and all three points for Incheon. Hwang Byeong-geun, the Jeonbuk keeper decided to come off his line and out of his box to sweep up the hopeful Incheon pass. He communicates this to his centre back who leaves the ball for Hwang. Unfortunately, in this moment of pressure and while communicating with his defender, Hwang has misjudged the flight of the ball and it simply skips by him leaving an empty net for Moon to roll the ball into.

Preventing danger

Though Sangju were able to get away with their mistake, good communication can help prevent dangerous situations ever occurring. No defender likes chasing a ball back towards their own goal, knowing that pressure is bearing down upon them from behind. In this moment it takes leadership from the goalkeeper to make a quick decision and instruct his defender how to deal with the threat: playing it back, clearing the ball or if they have time to turn. As Ulsan clipped a ball over Hong Chul at left back for Sangju, no communication nor direction comes from his teammates and he hesitates in clearing the ball or passing it back to Yoo Sang-hoon in goal. This allowed Ulsan to nick in and steal the ball and it was only a diving interception from Yoo that stopped Ulsan scoring.

Moving forward

Though it is often hard to pinpoint these skills and traits when watching a game, the psychological and social skill set of player is something coaches have to work on day in day out on the field. Developing good habits and understanding between teammates can create stronger defences and more free flowing attacks. Finding players throughout the team that understand the teams strategy and can communicate it when under pressure improves consistency and performance.

Images via SPOTV and K League

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