Coaches Column

Coach Gary van Egmond discusses his young squad, tactics and the season to date in this week's Coaches Column.

A lot has been written and said about a number of our young players being off-contract, which is a very important issue.

We-ve had the highest percentage of young players in the World Cup for the Under 20s and we-ve got the youngest squad overall within the league.

So it's always a challenge to retain young talented players.

The salary cap is something we consistently need to manage which makes it difficult to retain all players.

However we are confident we can keep most of these talented players. We believe we have the best environment for the continued development of these players to give them opportunities to be long- term A-League players or to test themselves overseas.

As everyone can see, they are playing a lot more consistent now with all that work that we-ve put in.

It-s also for all the members and supporters who have been through some hard times as well, in regards to results.

So it-s very important that we keep these young players, because they are only going to keep on getting better.

In the next two to three years you-ll be able to have a team that is consistently in that top four mix.

That means finals and it obviously gives us chances of winning championships and that-s what you want.

I also have to praise our experienced guys, who have really helped nurture our younger players. Blokes like Emile Heskey, Michael Bridges and Ruben Zadkovich for example have gone out of their way to do whatever they can to offer advice for our up-and-coming players.

That has been vital in their progression this season.

We-ve performed well in the past few weeks, but it hasn-t just been a change of tactics.

I think that can be a little bit misinterpreted, because we still have the same ethos as we-ve always had.

It-s just tactically structuring our defensive shape, where we are looking to press from and what line.

You still want to play and you still want to ensure that you keep an even amount of possession.

But it-s also what you do with that possession in regards to the positioning and where we look to structure our team from an attacking point of view.

It can get misinterpreted from the fact that we are not looking to try and control games.

It-s more so about your defensive shape and where it starts.

So do you start pressing higher up the field against a certain opponent or do you start pressing a little bit deeper?

Of course teams can then have more possession than you, but most of their possession is in their own half.

So it-s a little bit different and the intensity in the way in which we press is also paramount.

The boys have been magnificent though.

We-ve worked hard on our defensive shape and they are really enjoying their football. Of course when you are winning you tend to enjoy things a lot more as well.

But the one thing that you-ve got to do as a coach is to get the players to believe in what you-re selling.

And it-s obviously evident that they are buying into it, which is the most important part. Now they are getting the benefits from it.

We-ve put in what I thought were some ok performances.

I thought the one half against Sydney was ok, but I thought the Perth game was pretty poor to be honest. Then after that our performances have been steadily getting better.

There is a little bit more of a steely determination about the group and that-s also the fact that a lot of these younger boys have now had more experience from being involved in the Under 20s World Cup and obviously another year of A-League underneath their belts.

So they have been able to gain from those experiences. With young players, the younger you go the more inconsistency-s you can get. But as they get older, you see that those inconsistency-s become better.

So it-s exciting times ahead for the club.

Gary

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