How to face a muddy fixture

Play your way through a mud bath by getting the ball out wide and hitting the target man, says Neil Warnock
How to face a muddy fixture
“My team struggles in winter when the ground gets heavy as we prefer to pass the ball around. What can we do?”
Lee Burnett, via email

Neil Warnock says:

“You have to play the system to suit the players and pitches. Sometimes you turn up and the pitch is cut up really badly, so you can’t use a passing game. You must vary tactics.

If it’s in really bad condition, you have to avoid going down the middle. You can play more in the air up to a point, but you’ve got to use the flanks and your full-backs as much as you can.

The ball has to be played at varying angles: diagonals, rather than down the middle. You should also get your goalkeeper to kick sideways, not down the middle.

And if you’ve got a target man or someone strong in the air, they can play the ball out to players occupying the wide positions.

I’ve changed a line-up due to the playing conditions before. I changed my team once in the FA Cup when we played a non-league team by leaving out one of my quick forwards.

I didn’t think he could run with the ball on that surface, so I favoured a more physical centre-forward. It worked.”

Also see:
How to face a frosty fixture

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