How to make use of the extra man

Full-backs are key when playing against 10 men, says former Portsmouth manager Paul Hart

Practise, practise, practise

“The first thing you have to do is educate the players. As soon as you’re playing against 10 men the temptation is to throw the kitchen sink at it, because that’s what the fans expect to you to do. Now, though, people are starting to realise that playing against 10 man isn’t a walkover, primarily because every week teams are used to defending against teams with 11 men.

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Turn defence into attack

“You need to remain calm. Just because you’re playing against 10 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win the game 6-0. The key is the full-backs: they’re your extra men, they have to push on, on both sides, and get really tight. You must keep the ball, and whichever system the opposition switch to you’ve got to get on the ball, keep possession and stay positive.

“Where it negates itself is when a team suddenly thinks ‘they’re down to 10, let’s get it up there quick’, because that plays straight into the opposition’s hands. They want six-against-one because there’s a back four, there’s two midfielders in front and they’re outnumbering you. You have to outnumber them by getting the full-backs forward – that’s where the advantage lies.

Move the ball quickly

“To make it count you need to work the team that’s down to 10 and make them tired. If it happens in the last 10 minutes then, to be honest, it’s not going to make a huge amount of difference, but if it has happened either side of half-time then these strategies come into play. If you stretch them and make them work, and crucially, have good enough passers in your side, then you should overcome them.”

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