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Even during lockdown football has evolved, believes 1996 AFCON winning captain, Neil Tovey

Updated Jul 29, 2021

by Lesiba Machaka


2 minutes read

Speaking at the InTune with Coaching live webinar, Tovey praised the way England and Italy adapted their game plan during the recent Euro 2020.

He believes that the role of a coach is becoming more important as the game evolves and it is essential for them to be able to think on their feet.

Even during lockdown football has evolved, believes 1996 AFCON winning captain, Neil Tovey

“The Euro’s were exciting,” said Tovey. “It was interesting to see how both coaches changed their strategy mid game. For example, both teams had to change from a 4-3-3, 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 game plan or vice versa to get that competitive edge. What this means is a lot more pressure is placed on coaches to read the game and be able to anticipate. This starts from the selection process. He needs multi-dimensional players that can play in different positions and even on different sides. It is all about player versatility.”

Tovey believes that this is the natural evolution of the game. “There are so many exceptional teams with little difference between them and coaches and players have to find a way to get the ball into the net. The build-up now starts right at the back. No longer are there those massive lobs from the goalkeeper up front. I mean if we had played like that in my day the coach would have had a fit,” chuckled Tovey.

Italy ultimately won the match on a penalty shoot-out, being the first international trophy for many years. They even failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Tovey believes this comes down to the coach.

“Italy’s Mancini has transformed the team. In the past players were individualistic, but I could see that he has rebuilt the team in the two years that he has been in charge, and they played cohesively and an attacking brand of football,” explained Tovey.

But credit must go to England and their coach, Southgate as well. “They also played a versatile game as opposed to their normal route one football. They were dynamic and were able to play it from the back. They had very skilful players like Grealish and Foden who were able to turn the ball well,” Tovey added.

There is a vast difference in coaching a Club versus a national team, concluded Tovey. “Club coaches work with the players on a daily basis and can improve them technically whereas a national coach gets limited time with the players and must select his team based on club performances and how the players will blend with his team. Hence you always get those that believe the national coach has not selected the right players, but it is more than skill!”

Watch the full Intune coaching webinar with Neil Tovey and recordings of other archived webinars on the InTune Communications’ YouTube Page