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Hughie Gallacher: How I play football

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-04-19 13:13:06

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
How I play football
Hughie Gallacher | 22/09/1928

Several teams now are getting more ball control pratice and less sprinting and "physical jerks".
It has always been the Scottish idea that when a forward or half-back got the ball he ought to make some ground with it, and defeat at least one defender. Full-back play is different. The back ought to waste no time in getting rid of the ball.
As far was forwards are concerned, however, you can have altogether too much "get rid of it". A player with real ball control ought not to have to pass as soon as he is tackled.
First-class centre-forwards ought to be able to outwit opponents without even touching the ball with the foot. I mean, they should have the knack of swerving with the body worked out to such an extent that no defender knows which way they are really going. And if he does guess right, then he ought not to know wether the centre-forward is going to take the ball with him or not.
For example, you can pretend to swerve to the left while you are actually moving to the right. Also, you can pretend to swerve to the left again, and when the defender says: "Ah, you won't catch me this time", you can actually move to the left, instead of going to the right as he expects.
And you can either take the ball with you, or push it round in the opposite direction.
This sounds difficult to do, and it is difficult. UNNECESSARY PASSES
You can only do it with practice, and having learned to do it you have got to keep practising to keep the knack.
Many spectators understand the difficulties of a centre-forward, and they appreaciate the finer moves of the game. There are always a few people in every crowd, however, who cannot really follow what you are doing. That is why you get shouts of "Pass!" when actually you are doing the best thing for your side by holding on to the ball. Also you get accused of "playing pretty" with the ball whe nactually you are making a lot of ground, and tying the defence up into knots.
I am not a critic of English football, but I do say that if there is ony thing wrong with it, that is this "get rid of it" idea. DETERMINATION TO SCORE
A centre-forward certainly ought to give plenty of passes, and keep his line moving like clockwork, but when he gets the ball somewhere near the goal, with only a couple of defenders to beat, he is not much of a centre-forward if he does not have a go at getting round them with the aid only of his own ball control, and his own determination to score.
You occasionally see men in football nowadays dribble the ball for fair distances, but I do not think that modern conditions will ever permit of a return to real dribbling — except, perhaps, by wing forwards.
Steve Bloomer and Billy Meredith never had this prejudice against holding on to the ball. If they saw a chance of dribbling the ball right through they would try it.
At the same time, I am all against running round and dodging about without doing any real good. A dribble is a waste of time unless it gets you somewhere, and takes you behind the enemy defences. Running round in circles is bad football. Far better to pass the ball away to somebody who can make the running with it.
Keep the ball moving in the direction of the goal. If you cannot do this yourself, then pass it away. If you can do it yourself, then hold on to it. ARE THEY SELFISH?
Schoolboy players are often ruined at school by being told that they are selfish unless they keep passing the ball away.
That is why you get all this kicking up and down the field, and passes which are always being intercepted by the opponents, and — worst of the lof — forwards who pass the ball out to wing when they are really in a position to take a shot at goal.
Personally, as the goal gets nearer and nearer, I think that the centre-forward should become more and more determined not to pass the ball away unless the opponents are good enough to force him to do it.
The man in possession has the whip hand every time.
You are flattering the defence if you let the sight of a back coming at you, scare you into making a pass to a man who is not better place than yourself. If a quick look round reveals a man on your own side who can really do something with the ball, then let the defender tackle you, and as he does so put the ball over to this man. DRAWING THE DEFENCE
But never pass without first weaking the defence by forcing one or more of them to come at you.
It is easy for a forward to say: "I am always giving so-and-so passes, but he never does anything with them".
The answer to this is, what sort of passes did you give? If you get into a panic and pass the ball to your man without first drawing opponents away from him, you are dodging your own responsabilities and trying to make another player on your side take the responsibility for your own bad play.
Make some running with the ball if you can. If you cannot, then pass — first drawing the defence to give the man you pass to every chance of getting away with the ball.