No doubt if you haven’t yet heard the name Karamoko Dembele, the 13 year-old Celtic wonder kid who has already been part of the Scottish under-20 set up, you soon will. The young midfielder is being touted as one of the most exciting talents in the game and interested, I recently watched some of the clips of Dembele on You Tube.
Whilst there is no doubt the youngster is a potential star in the making, when watching the clips I found myself wondering what coaches are teaching defenders these days. In the clip above I was amazed how often the opposition defenders jumped into the tackle and even left their feet to dive in front of the player.
Dembele has amazing close control for a player of his age, allayed with a terrific burst of speed, a combination which is any defender’s worst nightmare. In order to negate these traits a defender needs to put the emphasise on the attacking player to beat them. Stand up to attacker and make it plain to them you are not going to jump into the tackle, don’t try and win the ball as soon as possible but wait for them to lose control, then and only then make your move. If instead you jump in or, even worse, dive in to a tackle you are playing to the attacker’s strength because this movement is exactly what they are waiting for and whilst you pick yourself up they will be half way down the pitch threatening your goal.
And if they don’t make a mistake, don’t worry, be patient. Jockey the attacker, slow down the attack and allow the rest of your team to get behind you. Players like Dembele are unique but as he grows up he will discover he cannot win every game by himself, Messi is the best player in the world and watching him you will be dazzled by his technical ability but he is most effective when he harnesses that ability within a team.
Conversely the same is true of the best defenders, they do not try and stem the flow of an attacking onslaught but collectively work together to turn back the tides. In the above clip every time a defender jumped in he allowed Dembele past him and the quicker he dived in the less chance his teammates had to organise themselves and reduce the attacker’s options.
So next time you are faced with the league’s star winger remember stand up, force them to beat you and don’t make it easy for them otherwise they’ll be racing down the wing as your frustrated manager is shouting at you to get up.