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Roberto Mancini Tactics And Coaching

Peter North sent us a comprehensive tactical layout of how City boss, Roberto Mancini likes to use his players.

Mancini at Inter has so far played with two main systems the 4-4-2 and the 4-3-1-2 (4-4-2 diamond) as shown below:


Fig 1: 4-4-2 as used by Mancini.


Fig 2: 4-3-1-2 as used by Mancini.

The only common factor in any team is the use of a back four. Mancini uses a zonal defending system which alters depending on where the ball is during each phase of the game.

With the 4-4-2 as shown in fig 1 the defensive block was a bank of 8 players made up of the 4 in defence and the 4 in midfield. The job of this block was to act as a compact unit which would defend as one in front of the penalty area and would slide along the width of the pitch depending on whether the ball was in a wide or central position see fig 3 and 4.


Fig 3: Movements of defending block when ball is on the wing.

The aim of defening with a compact block of 8 is a focus on the area with the ball, using the concept that opposing players can move into attacking zones aslong as they dont recieve the ball. This ball orietated defending allows the area around the ball to be closed down and effectively as possible. This also allows plyers to double up on the ball carrier.


Fig 4: Movements of defending block when the ball is in a central position.

If the ball is moved into any area either side of the penalty box the fullback will pressure while a midfield player will rotate into the back four, making sure that in any defensive phase a tight back four is maintained. The midfield player will drop into line with the ball and cut off any space behind the ball see fig 5.


Fig 5: Movements of the defending block when the ball is in a wing position.

Two holding midfield players will play close to central defenders support them to prevent 1v1 situations in central areas. When defending from a long ball played towards the back four this will be pressure by a central defender while the reaming 3 defenders drop back to provide another line of coverage, the defending mid supports to pressure any second ball fig 6.


Fig 6: Movements to defefend long ball.

The 2 strikers (fig 7) would also have to contribute to the defensive ways in two ways:

1 - With drawing to ensure all 11 players are between to ball and the goal.

2 - Pressuring to force opposing players to play the ball long and prevent coordindated build up.


Fig 7: Movements of the strikers to pressure for the ball.

This defensive set up provides the foundation for the attack; it employs the same concept of catenaccio in an updated form. The aims is draw teams down the defensive areas of the pitch and regain the ball in order to counter attack the space behind them early with fast one touch football and combination play this is acheived y the strikers sloding along the width of the pitch while defending to prvide early options for passing on regaining the ball fig 8.


Fig 8: Counter attacks by forwards.

This system worked best when Mnacini packed his side with attacking speed, adding a target man in the form of Ibrahimovich also gave another outlet for goals. If a build up was not possible following regaining of the ball possession would be maintained and attacks would be made into one of three key spaces. The ball could either be held around these areas until a killer pass is found or could be moved on fast through these areas via combination play.

These key spaces are (fig 9).

1 - The wing on the left side of the opponents half from the halfway line to the side of penalty area.

2 - The same area on the right side.

3 - A box from the end of the penalty area about 15 yards out whish is normaly refered to as the whole and fors the space between the lines of defence and back four.

The aim for attacking these key spaces is to hold the ball along the flanks in zones 1 and 2 in order to find a precise killer pass or a cross to target player. Doing this sucks players over creating space on the weaker side towards zones 2 and 3 for passes and switches of play.

The aim of zone 3 is to play passing combinations, long shots and through passes from this area pressuring the back four by moving in behind as much as possible on the attack. Direct running with players capable of winning attacing 1v1 situations isalso done at angles from these areas between fullbacks and centre defending players.


Fig 9: Key areas of space for attacking.

The aim is for a high speed of play, as said before pace and precision passing and crossing are the keys to this system.

With the 4-3-1-2 the aims of the system are much the same however this is different in two main ways (fig10):

1 - Defending is done by a block of 7 players with 3 to counter attack.

2 - Width relies more on attacking fullbacks.


Fig 9 4-3-1-2 as deployed by Mancini.

Coaching the system of play.

To coach the system there are many drills used which include small sided games and shadow play. Below are examples of drills Mancini has used to coach his defensive system.





Daily training schedule and lesson structure.

Mancini requires his players his players to undertake the following daily schedule:

Warm ups are long focusing on games such as soccer tennis, Pilates all exercises are watched by fitness trainer. This then moved onto strength training.

* Strength training consists of two isometric sessions which are performed in the normal day, one before and one after every normal training session. These sessions consist of isometrics divided into heavy and light muscle groups specific for performance, the focus is on mobility and strength. Players then move on to training which is never more than 90minutes in duration, two sessions are performed each day.

These training sessions are made up of a variety of training methods which are aimed at improving one tactical or technical theme through different periods of the game or in specific tactical situations.

* Efficiency of game play is constantly improved with technique and coordination training focusing on minimising mistakes.

* Players train first with variations of 4v4,5v5,6v6 or 7v7 small sided games focusing on team shape and defending movements aimed at constricting and squeezing space. Patterns of play working on ball orientated defending are also worked on. During these patterns players concentrate on the quality of movement the aim being to perform these patterns perfectly at high speeds. Games are also played in constricted spaces to increase speed of thought.

* Players then move onto practicing positional games based on practicing quick transitions.

* Training then moves to tactical exercises. Players will learn during these games what their role on the pitch is. 8 v 8 games with one goal focusing on cohesion between defence and midfield in a block of 8.

9 v 0 games with one goal focusing on passing patterns from the defensive third, through the midfield third and into the attacking third ending with a shot on goal. 8 v. 8 exercises on two goals with two thirds of the field in use focusing on moving the ball forward through the midfield. 11v11 games are used if needed.

* Players then move onto a long cool down and the second weight training routine.

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The journalist

Writer: Peter North Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 13 2010

Time: 9:43AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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now that's an article. whoever wrote this, very good, cheers mate.
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13/01/2010 09:57:00

I am sure the author will appreciate your comments vangogo.
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13/01/2010 10:00:00

Now that's an article! Played mate
Report Abuse
13/01/2010 10:15:00

Top article, did he do one similar for Mark Hughes? I'd love to see a similar article on the Barcelona style, this is proper posting!
It's Grim Oop North
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13/01/2010 10:35:00

Awesome insight in to the makings of a good manager, well done mate i really enjoyed that article
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13/01/2010 10:45:00

Amazing stuff, simply amazing. Obviously there is far more to it than this - can't be giving everything away to the opposition - but it is a great insight in to his thinking and methods.
Report Abuse
13/01/2010 10:57:00

Great article, I noticed on Mon night how when the ball was over on Zabs side, Garrido tucked in close to the CB's. This did leave him some way off his man who stayed wide. I suppose playing on percentages on whether they could hit this man early thus causing us problems
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13/01/2010 12:05:00

Great article Peter - i had to read it twice to understand all of it but a superb insight into training.
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13/01/2010 12:07:00

Outstanding!!! Tudor Tudor Sign Him Up!!
Johnny Baguette
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13/01/2010 13:04:00

Brill analysis and use of images to illustrate points. Great read :-D
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13/01/2010 15:10:00

It is a well written article and is easy to understand, why Mancini demands full concentration, because to use the method that peter outlines that is essential and the loss of it as can be seen by Kompany, allowed Blackburn to score. A brilliant and fascinating read Peter thanks.
Buzz Lightyear
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13/01/2010 17:34:00

wow. just wow.
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13/01/2010 19:04:00

If you don't mind me asking Peter - how did you get all of that info?
Report Abuse
13/01/2010 20:00:00

now you have told us the very limited basics can you go into more details please mate ? - only kidding peter that was an OUTSTANDING article mate.
Report Abuse
13/01/2010 20:29:00

I've just shown this article to David Moyes , he passes on his thanks :)
Report Abuse
14/01/2010 15:01:00

Thank you for your good feedback if any one has questions feel free to ask, as for giving away secrets you have a very evaluation of the system and im sure rival managers wont have to google us to find out how we play :)
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14/01/2010 18:52:00


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