Tag Archives: Mauricio Pochettino

Adam Lallana Signs for Brighton- How will the Englishman Fit in at the Amex?

Adam Lallana completed his highly anticipated switch to the Seagulls on a free transfer on Sunday after the expiration of his Liverpool contract.

The former England international returns to the south coast on a three year deal after previously starring for fellow Premier League outfit Southampton on their rise to the top tier.

He spent six years on Merseyside, arriving in 2014 from the Saints for a fee of £25 million. He went on to make 178 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a key man during Brendan Rodgers tenure and in Klopp’s early years in charge.

Injuries and a flurry of new signings in the summer of 2017 saw his playing time gradually decrease, with Lallana featuring in just 22 games in all competitions this season, none of which have come since the restart.

He did contribute significantly to Liverpool’s Premier League triumph, scoring a crucial late equaliser at Old Trafford against Man United to ensure the Reds came away with a point. He leaves Liverpool having won the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the Champions League.

He will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans as he epitomised everything that Jürgen Klopp wants from a midfielder, a high energy, all action player who can contribute defensively as well as going forward.

Lallana had a host of clubs queuing up for his signature, and he was consistently linked with a reunion with Rodgers at Leicester but he snubbed them in favour of a move to Brighton, who finished 15th this season.

While it seems like a huge step down on paper, swapping Champions League football for a potential relegation battle, there is no doubt that footballing wise, Brighton is a natural fit for Lallana’s talents.

They are going places under Potter, with the former Swansea boss guiding them to their biggest ever points haul (41) since they secured promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

They are a possession based side, playing tidy football which is easy on the eye. Potter has employed a number of different formations this campaign, alternating between playing three and four at the back depending on their opponents.

He encourages forwards and midfielders to press high and in small groups to win back possession, similar to what Lallana was asked to do under Klopp at Liverpool, and something he regularly excelled at.

Lallana’s favoured position is attacking midfield, where he can drive forward with his superb dribbling skills. This helps him to wriggle out of tight spaces and create an opening for himself or a teammate.

With Potter often rotating his starting eleven, Lallana will be competing with Aaron Mooy for the number ten role. He impressed in patches this season but only contributed two goals and two assists in 25 games.

If Lallana is afforded the same amount of playing time, he will be hoping to better the Australian’s tally and be the creative spark Brighton have been crying out for this campaign.

Lallana is versatile, however, another characteristic which Potter admires. He has been deployed as a deep lying playmaker or a ‘number 8’, dictating the game from a more central position.

He can also operate as a winger or on the left or right of a front three, providing Potter with a number of new attacking options to compliment the strike force of Connolly and Maupay.

At 32, Lallana will provide some much needed top flight experience to the Seagulls’ relatively young squad. He went to the 2014 World Cup with England and featured in the 2016 European Championships, as well as playing regular European football at Anfield.

His experience of playing in those high level competitions and of winning trophies has instilled a winning mentality in Lallana, which he will be eager to pass on to those around him at Brighton.

Lallana, has already outlined his ambitions with the club, and playing in a relegation battle is not one of them:

“I won’t be happy with fighting against relegation every year. I’ve experienced that before at Southampton,” he told Brighton’s official website.

He clearly rates Potter and believes that he can take Brighton on a journey like the one which he experienced with Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, when under the Argentine’s tutelage, the Saints finished eighth, their highest ever finish in the Premier League which granted them access to the Europa League.

“The template is in place and it is about implementing that and working with Graham (Potter), learning new things, improving myself, improving the team and there is no reason why we can’t do that.

“The job Graham has done in changing so many aspects of the way they play and building a culture and environment which makes it possible to move forward, I think it is definitely possible to move up the league.”

His trust in Potter’s philosophy was evidently a huge selling point for Lallana, as he clearly envisages himself in the manager’s system

Lallana, is also a top professional, who trains with the same intensity as he would when playing in a game. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, (a good friend of Lallana’s) in an exclusive interview on LFC TV citied Lallana’s professionalism, and work ethic as some of his key strengths stating:

“Whatever club he goes to, they are getting an amazing player and person.”

Having such a great professional and serial winner around the dressing room will be of great help to those coming through at Brighton and signing him on a free transfer from the Premier League champions is seen as a huge coup from the club, and a statement of intent that the owners are willing to trust in Potter and his style of play.

Lallana could have a similar impact at his new club as Milner did for the youngsters coming through at Liverpool, inspiring the next generation to combine their incredible talent with work hard to keep them grounded and pushing to improve themselves and the team.

Although he will be one of Brighton’s top earners, Lallana has taken a pay cut to join the Seagulls and it is understood that Brighton have not broken their wage structure to secure his signature.

The only worry surrounding Lallana will be his fitness, as the Englishman has missed over 70 games during his time on Merseyside through injury. Given his talent and price, however it is a risk worth taking.

Potter summarised nicely everything that Lallana will bring to Brighton when he told their official website:

“Adam is a really exciting signing for us, someone I am sure the supporters will be really looking forward to seeing play.”

Potter continued:

“To have both his experience and quality out on the pitch will be a great addition for us, and I know he will be an excellent role model for our younger players in the squad.”

In Modern football is too much blame being placed on the manager?

The past seven days in the premier league has witnessed two managers relieved of their duties.

Both Unai Emery at Arsenal and Quique Sanchez Flores, at Watford that was his second spell at the club and marked the hornet’s second managerial change of the season. 

Arsenal director Josh Kroenke revealed that the decision to remove Emery from his position had been ‘weeks’ in the making as they felt that the head coach had lost the backing of the fans. The former Sevilla and PSG boss was on a run of seven games without a win.

Former Arsenal player, Freddie Ljungburg, replaced the 48 year old and the Swede opened his managerial account with a 2-2 draw away to Norwich this past weekend.

Ljungburg is the latest appointment by a club chairman and the board of a former player at one of the big six clubs following the trend of Frank Lampard at Chelsea at the start of the season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and has prompted Kroenke to say that, “ Ljungburg has Arsenal DNA and understands the club.”

These latest managerial sackings however prompt the question… Is too much blame being placed on the manager?

Head Coach versus Manager role

For a start some teams nowadays have Head Coaches while others have Managers.

The former Tottenham Manager Mauricio Pochettino speaking in 2015, highlights the subtle differences between the roles:

“If you are the manager, you decide many things about the club.  But if you are a head coach, your responsibility is to play better, try to improve the players and to get positive results.”

Pochettino continued:

“At Southampton, I was manager my responsibility was not only to coach the team. With Tottenham, I am a head coach.  A head coach is head of your department. My department is to train the team.”

The attributes needed to be successful are reportedly the same for both roles, being adaptable in terms of training and good judgement on team selection for instance.

The head coach however can protest regarding lack of signings, but there is a lack of authority on the role compared with being a Manager.

It seems that the days are long gone when an Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson figure end up having complete control in terms of how things are run at football clubs.

Ultimately however is enough time given to managers or head coaches these days to implement the changes they require?

Former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking to Harvard Business Review said:

“I believe that the cycle of a successful team lasts maybe four years and then some change is needed.  So we tried to visualise the team maybe three or four years ahead and make decisions accordingly.”

Ferguson continued: “Because I was at United for such a long time, I could afford to plan ahead – no one expected me to go anywhere. I was very fortunate in that respect.”

Is football after all a team game?

Football is supposed to be a team game, so shouldn’t the players, coaching staff and those who run the club be held equally accountable?

There is a squad of 25 players and even though the manager is there to inspire, implement tactics and produce impactful substitutions, he is not out there on the field playing the matches.

Sir Alex Ferguson was often praised for bringing on substitutes that would lead to last minute Manchester United winners. More recent examples include Jurgen Klopp and Brendan Rodgers, who have been praised for the way they set up their teams at Liverpool and Leicester City respectively.

Managers therefore are quickly praised but equally critics are ready to pounce if things are not quite going to plan. This leads to increased scrutiny on the man in charge and he is more often than not, provided with enough time to turn things around.

Flores for instance was only given 87 days so the window provided is getting shorter for managers to make the desired impact that the clubs fans and owners are looking for.

When asked about the recent pressure that Everton manger, Marco Silva was under, England and Everton’s number one goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford said:

“ A few bad performances should not put the manager under pressure”

Pickford continued:

“ We have to look at ourselves as individuals and as a squad.  You are a team and you win together and you loose together.”

Sacking managers is not always the answer

Pickford has currently had 11 managers throughout his Premier League career to date, since his introduction seven in three seasons at Sunderland, who are now currently in League One and four in the past three seasons at Everton.

Although Silva and his team enjoyed an impressive conclusion to the previous campaign, there is little suggest that Everton will challenge currently for the top six positions that they are looking to break into.

Owners expecting quick results

The influx of money, particularly in the Premier League and the spending power of clubs has changed, particularly in the past few years.

It has become harder for the top clubs to get the players that they want as other teams are under less pressure to sell and want to get the maximum amount for the player in question.

When the high transfer fees are spent, Emery for instance had over 100 million to spend on transfers over the summer, including 70 million on Nicholas Pepe from Lille, both the fans and the owners expect the side to hit the ground running.

If the desired results are not being delivered the boardroom will look for someone to blame. The easiest answer will ultimately always be the person in charge, the manager.

Challenging football schedules

Liverpool Manager, Jurgen Klopp eluded to this matter at the start of November as the German said,

“ Crazy football schedule for international players, there is no time for the manager to work with the players on the training field.”

Sadio Mane, one of Liverpool’s key attackers for instance has only had two weeks break all year round. The league leaders are currently at a start of a run that will see them play 13 matches over a six-week period.

It is therefore a struggle for a new manager or one that is under pressure to implement a new style of play or change tactics for an upcoming game if he does not have enough time to coach the players.

There is also the addition of international tournaments such as this year’s Nations League competition that increases the amount of time that players are away from their club sides.

The demanding schedules lead to the increased chances of injuries to significant players for key games as well as player fatigue that leads to a greater chance of players making mistakes out on the field of play.

Pressures of qualifying for Europe’s elite competitions

All the elite clubs strive to be apart of the Champions League with the prize money seemingly increasing year on year, for this season clubs would have secured roughly 15 million just for reaching the group stage.

This would drive club owners to make knee jerk decisions, especially if their team was not performing on the field.

Media scrutiny on Managers

Finally the media scrutiny on managers in this day and age is enormous.  Particularly for sides such as Manchester United and Liverpool, who have former players as pundits such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

They are quick to point out what the manager should and should not do using video technology in their Sky Sports Studio.

The influence of the Video Assistant Referee is also proving to be a game changer this season.

The manager also has to watch what he says in the pre and post match interview. He is ultimately put under the microscope more than any one individual player as he is exposed to the media every week.

If a player has a bad game he can choose to avoid the media and public eye following the match and can always redeem himself the following week.

When it is going well, the manager is quick to be praised by everyone and can supposedly do no wrong.  When things however start to go wrong, fortunes can change very quickly, owners want to see a return on their increased investment and it is on the whole easier for them sack one person rather than wait till the transfer market to sell and sign numerous players. 

 Feel free to give 24/7 your opinion, is too much blame and pressure being put on the manager or head coach?