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Set-piece improvements and busting myths about corners: Specialist set-piece coach Andy Parslow talks us by his position | Soccer Information

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The rise of the specialist set-piece coach has been a key growth within the recreation as soccer continues to seek for an edge. However what do they really do and who’re the newest innovators? A dialog with Andy Parslow sheds some gentle.

Parslow has labored as a restarts coach at Wimbledon and a specialist set-piece coach at Swansea, bettering the data of each groups. Initially, he skilled what he delicately refers to as some “cautious intrigue” among the many gamers, however that has modified.

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Soccer has modified. A extra subtle angle to set items has emerged. “I keep in mind talking to somebody about man-to-man marking they usually instructed me that they preferred it as a result of if there’s a aim then who guilty,” Parslow tells Sky Sports activities.

“In case you are beginning off your set-piece course of by fascinated with who you’re going to blame when it goes mistaken, I feel you might be already onto a little bit of a loser there. There’s extra thought going into it now which is why golf equipment are hiring full-time workers to cope with it.”

On the prime finish of the sport, each level will be value hundreds of thousands, each aim too. The funding in a specialist set-piece coach can reap enormous rewards. “It’s a important return you can get on a comparatively small funding, for my part,” says Parslow.

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“It’s not an untapped market however it’s an underappreciated and barely misunderstood market on the minute.” In soccer, as in life, there are those that worry change. Jurgen Klopp’s introduction of a throw-in coach sparked guffaws from sections of the media.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Casemiro of Manchester United scores their 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on August 26, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Casemiro’s aim for Manchester United in opposition to Nottingham Forest stemmed from a set-piece routine

Parslow regards these marginal positive aspects as simply a part of the sport, a part of the method of serving to groups to enhance their likelihood of success.

“You aren’t there to be a star,” insists Parslow. “You might be there to assist the staff. It’s not a glamorous position, only a operate to assist a staff win a recreation of soccer.” He isn’t concerned about innovation for the sake of it. “There’s a hazard in overcomplicating it,” he says.

“The nook spot by no means strikes and the aim by no means strikes. So, whereas there may be not a restrict to what you are able to do, there may be in all probability a restrict to what it’s essential to do.” The intention stays to cease targets at one finish and rating them on the different. His mantra for set items is straightforward.

“Be good at scoring dangerous targets.”

Andy Parslow poses for a picture during the Swansea City Media Day at Fairwood Training Ground on June 28, 2022 in Swansea, Wales.
Andy Parslow labored as a specialist set-pieces coach for Swansea Metropolis

However how does a staff try this? The standard of the supply is essential however largely out of the management of the coach. A lot of Parslow’s focus is on what occurs subsequent. “What it’s essential to work on as a coach is to consider the place the ball might go subsequent,” he says.

“If the cross is overhit, do now we have somebody there simply in case? If it hits the primary man and is headed out, do now we have somebody there to assault the ball rapidly to maintain the assault alive? We will reap the benefits of the chaos earlier than the defence is organised correctly.

“What number of totally different zones are we protecting within the field? What number of second-contact areas are we protecting to extend our likelihood of making an opportunity? In case you are simply counting on the right routine, you’ll actually restrict your alternatives to attain.”

Dynamic motion contained in the penalty field is important.

“It’s a must to load the chances in your favour. If I’m a defender and my man runs from A to B, I’ve one choice to make. If he begins on the again, runs two yards, checks, runs once more and adjustments route earlier than going behind, abruptly I’ve 5 – 6 issues to consider.

“Keep in mind, the ball is coming into the field and I must know the place that’s going too. Impulsively, you’ve elevated the variety of choices, elevated the likelihood that a type of choices is mistaken, and elevated the likelihood of an opportunity.”

These adjustments would possibly seem minor however “whenever you compound them, the positive aspects is usually a lot” – simply have a look at Wimbledon and Swansea.

Within the 2021/22 season in League One, Wimbledon scored 18 targets from set items, an 83 per cent improve on the earlier season. “After that, I might in all probability have instructed them to do cartwheels within the field and they might have carried out it. They have been all in.” Final season at Swansea, there was a six-fold improve in set-piece targets.

Presently working as a guide to golf equipment throughout the Soccer League and past, Parslow is eager to return to a full-time position. “It’s a bit like going to the fitness center, quarter-hour a day will see higher returns than going sooner or later for eight hours and by no means going once more.”

Within the meantime, he takes us by a few of his favorite set-piece improvements of the season to date and busts some myths as he solutions 5 frequent questions on nook routines.


“One innovation I’ve loved is groups having all 10 outfield gamers up for the nook, no one again on the midway line. Quite a lot of Premier League golf equipment are doing it, some within the Championship and I additionally noticed Burton Albion do it in League One.

“This places stress on the defending staff as a result of whereas they need to cope with the ball into the field, there at the moment are extra quick choices round and as soon as the ball is cleared there may be extra likelihood of it coming again in as a result of the sting of the field is ring-fenced.”

Concerning the supply itself, inflicting defensive confusion helps. “One I like, one thing Brentford have carried out nicely, and Tottenham did it final season, is lining up in a extremely ambiguous beginning place so you can not learn what the routine goes to be,” says Parslow.

“Simply earlier than the supply into the field, the gamers run into their positions and it’s a lot more durable for the markers to select these runs up. I might think about there may be much more panic among the many defenders, it heightens the stress. I like that innovation.”

Casemiro’s aim in opposition to Nottingham Forest stands out for Parslow. Bruno Fernandes performed a sq. move earlier than transferring to obtain the return ball. “When play switches, all eyes comply with the ball. Fernandes turns into the participant they’re least fearful about,” he explains.

“The ball has transferred to the opposite facet, that’s the recreation now so he can transfer in unmarked. Additionally, Casemiro’s beginning place is offside so he’s already forward of the line of defense. When the ball is available in, he’s now onside for a straightforward end.

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Watch Alexander Isak’s aim for Newcastle in opposition to Aston Villa from a set piece

“Alexander Isak’s aim for Newcastle in opposition to Aston Villa was the identical precept. They swap the angle of the free-kick, clip the ball as much as Dan Burn and it’s a faucet in for Isak arriving from an offside place. I like altering the angle as a result of it’s only a new drawback.

“Groups put together for that second when the ball is about down. They’ve skilled for it. Transferring the purpose of assault adjustments the mindset, it simply places extra questions within the thoughts. ‘What do I do now?’ You can’t do it each time however it’s about holding that unpredictability.”


Why do corners not beat the primary defender?

A well-recognized frustration for followers is the sight of a cross failing to beat the defender on the close to put up. “I do know it annoys folks,” says Parslow. “However people usually are not good, people make errors. The supply isn’t at all times going to be spot on. It’s soccer. It occurs.”

The rationale that nook takers whip the ball in direction of that close to put up at tempo is as a result of with danger comes reward. “Naturally, it’s as a result of the staff are attempting to assault the close to put up. Usually, on the close to put up, for those who win the primary contact it’s laborious to defend,” provides Parslow.

“After I talk about defending with my markers, I at all times prioritise not permitting the opponent to get in entrance. In the event that they get away from them behind, the ball nonetheless has to journey over their head and there may be time to regulate. As soon as you might be crushed in entrance, you might be carried out.

“There’s a a lot greater likelihood of a aim, which is why groups goal it. However as a result of that zone is so susceptible, groups closely prioritise defending that zone. It’s not a straightforward ability to get the supply proper in there however for those who attempt eight occasions it’d work on the ninth.”

Why have small gamers mark tall gamers?

West Ham’s opening aim of their win over Chelsea in August, introduced this debate to the fore once more. “Conor Gallagher was marking Nayef Aguerd and he scored from James Ward-Prowse’s nook. I’m certain there have been questions why Gallagher was marking him.

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Nayef Aguerd rose above Conor Gallagher to move in for West Ham in opposition to Chelsea

“However he isn’t anticipated to win the header. He’s anticipated to disrupt the momentum simply sufficient in order that the zones can come and win the header. For my part, for that aim, the zones needed to do extra to assault the ball. So there are these misconceptions round it.

“Folks ask why somebody small is marking somebody massive when you’ve different massive gamers within the staff. It’s as a result of the massive gamers are of their zones. If in case you have 5 gamers marking zonally, they’re there to win the primary contact. The markers are there to disrupt.”

Why not intention for the tallest participant?

The plain follow-up query is to ask why groups don’t at all times intention for his or her tallest attacker. “Peak is not any assure of high quality at attacking the ball. Some actually tall guys usually are not the very best at heading and gamers who usually are not the most important who can actually assault it.”

The ingredient of shock can be essential. “Keep in mind that going for the most important man might be the obvious route so it’s in all probability the route that the opposition are most ready for. I choose to have a look at the place now we have obtained the most important benefit.”

Typically, a participant’s scoring report isn’t the best measure of their effectiveness from corners. “Final season, Millwall did brilliantly with Jake Cooper who’s about 6’5″ and he wins a big quantity of first contacts from corners,” says Parslow.

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“How they did it was that they’d dangle the ball excessive across the penalty spot and he would get that first contact however that was not the place they have been trying to rating from. They’d some very hungry strikers who knew that was their second to devour the seconds.

“They scored so many targets simply from these scrappy bits afterwards. That was the plan. They have been aiming for the most important man however to not rating, to draw extra folks, create extra chaos after which rating extra targets from the results of it. Some groups do that rather well.”

Why select to take quick corners?

“Firstly, it’s about what you’ve got in your staff to assault corners. You won’t have the most important staff so your power won’t be placing the ball within the field and it may very well be the opponent’s power if they’ve a staff of giants so it will not make a lot sense.

“So, you would possibly do it to protect in opposition to your personal weak spot and also you additionally would possibly do it if there’s a structural weak spot within the opposition’s setup and taking a brief nook might open up a greater alternative for you than simply merely placing the ball into the field.”

Even the specter of the quick nook will be helpful if it creates uncertainty among the many opposition. “Brentford do that nicely. They at all times have two takers, normally Mathias Jensen and Bryan Mbeumo, after which a 3rd participant close by or on the close to fringe of the field.

“Typically they nonetheless put the ball into the field however what that is doing is posing extra questions. Do you have interaction? How far do you go as a result of can’t get all the best way there? You would possibly attempt to nick a number of extra yards. That then creates more room within the field.”

Why not depart gamers up for corners?

If the quick nook can result in groans, one other acquainted criticism from followers is why their staff brings again each participant to defend a nook fairly than depart attackers up the sector to supply a counter-attacking menace. There’s a logic to it, Parslow explains.

“A basic precept of soccer is that if you find yourself attacking you need to create area, if you find yourself defending you need to prohibit area. A great way to limit area is with our bodies. The extra our bodies contained in the 18-yard field, the much less area for attackers to run into.”

There are caveats. “The issue is that it could actually create site visitors and make it more durable for defenders to assault the ball.” And, as ever, the rationale why totally different groups have totally different approaches to defending corners will normally depend upon the make-up of their staff.

“It poses a query as a result of typically for those who depart one up, groups will depart two again. However, once more, it comes all the way down to what you’ve within the squad. There are gamers who simply can’t assist the staff defensively and it is perhaps higher to go away them on the midway line.”

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