THE two things that surprised me most about the opening game were our performance and the reaction to the result.
We all realise this year will be a challenging one because we have changed both the squad and the playing style quite dramatically. It would be unrealistic to expect the team to be executing everything perfectly in such a short space of time.
Our performance was still disappointing, however, because it did not reflect the progress the team has made in the past couple of months and so, from that point of view, our first step was a faltering one.
There were a couple of specific areas where we failed to keep our structure and as a result we were punished and not able to control the game in the manner we wanted.
There were also some positive outcomes on the night, including the goal we scored, which came directly from us playing the style of game we had been working on. The one thing we don’t do as a coaching staff is analyse the result.
Too often coaches fall into the trap of measuring the performance against the backdrop of the result. A win means we played well while a loss must have resulted from a poor performance. That is not always the case and my mood would not have been any better had we won the game but played in the same manner.
Our players know they will always be measured against the specific benchmarks we have as a club and that sometimes this will not be reflected on the scoreboard.
I was asked this week how far I would go in implementing this game style and particularly the perceived risk of always playing out from the back. As a coach I have yet to find that limit and still believe we have not yet scratched the surface of the possibilities possession football can create. Our goal in the first game started from our goalkeeper playing the ball out.
The second thing that surprised me was the reaction to our result and the others from the weekend’s games.
Favourites have been framed, strugglers identified, players elevated to star status and others relegated to the dustbin. Ninety minutes of football can certainly change the landscape very quickly. The challenge for each club and coach is to stay the course regardless, because reactions in the heat of the moment can lead to consequences that are far more damaging than if things were allowed to pan out.
We are playing against the champions this week and our challenge will be to try to impose our game on an opposition that also likes to dominate possession. To do this we will need to be more disciplined and have more belief in our structure than in the first game. The players now realise we will not compromise our style of play and, regardless of the result or the personnel representing us, our structure will remain a constant.
I am looking forward to the trip back to Brisbane. It will provide us with a strong football challenge. The Roar are the champions and still the benchmark in the competition, so our structure and discipline will be really tested. But watching the players train I can tell that each day they are gaining more belief in what we do.
They also know that our measure each week will be the performance and not the result so there will be clear indicators of how we are progressing.
I have always measured the success of my day when the sun is setting and in A-League terms we have just seen the sunrise, so there is plenty of the day left.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.