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Insight: Adkins' tactics

24 January 2014

Boss' strategic approach

Manager Nigel Adkins spoke in depth to the local media this week about the tactics of regaining possession and how our whole team contributes defensively.

The boss discussed his strategic approach to the game, which gave us a thumping win over Bolton, the first time in almost 35 years that we have scored seven goals and winner of the LMA performance of the week award.

He said, "[Our approach is] Can you get the ball back as quickly as possible, so you can be effective when you've got possession.

"To do that, there's different ways to win the ball back. You can use a high press, and we've always tried to make their goalkeeper kick the ball because we believe our centre halves can win headers. You lock on, and that way the opposition don't control the tempo of the game. If you force the goalkeeper to kick it, it becomes a sharing ball, and who can land on it first - 'win the first one, land on the second one.'

"But sometimes teams can get out, for example Brighton were very good at breaking that block, so then you change from an attacking press to a mid-third block. You set traps, try to force the opposition into a blind alley and get the ball off them. Then with your pace you can counter-attack into the space that's been created.

"There's different ways to do it, likewise you can end up with a defensive third block and the spaces are even more narrow, so the opposition can't get through."

The Royals have employed the same starting XI for the last two games, and Adkins continued, "Having a consistent shape helps, but first and foremost you need a good defensive resolve, for which you have to work hard. When you win the ball, you have the chance to control the game.

"I've said before about Pav and Alfie leading from the front, their workrate has been exceptional. So with a front two working hard, then the two chucky eggs on the outside, the wider players. We're not asking them to be right out on the wing [defensively], they can come in and narrow the spaces with the middle two. It gets us up the pitch and the whole team contributes."

And of course, fitness plays a key role. "We analyse things in depth here. We want to out-run the opposition, we've talked about a periodised training programme with players getting fitter and stronger as the season goes on.

"Last week we were very clinical, scored seven good goals and the hard work on the training ground bore fruit."

Last but not least, Adkins received the LMA award with the whole group of players behind him, and said, "It was good. The award was there, the Sky cameras came down and took a picture with everybody together which is important – it’s not about individuals at this football club, it’s a team performance award and many, many people have contributed to that. I was pleased for the players."

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