Score from a free-kick

Wales manager Gary Speed outlines the art of firing in a successful set-piece from out wide

“It’s all about delivery. I tell players to curl the ball towards the far post, as that’s the most difficult area for a keeper to cover.

If everyone misses it, as we saw recently between England and Switzerland, then the ball goes in at the far post. Frank Lampard is one of the best practitioners of that type of free-kick.

More after the break

If the defence start too deep they make it difficult for the keeper. If the defence start high, there’s more space to put the ball in – but then the keeper can come and get it. Defensively, it’s better to start high.

If we have the free-kick then I tell the players to attack the ball. A lot of goals are scored from second balls so it’s very important to keep the ball alive – an attacker might get a header off a keeper’s touch.

It’s difficult to defend the initial free-kick, but it’s even more difficult to defend the second ball because the defenders have got to pick up players while watching the ball.

Make sure that you have a good spread of players around the penalty area because you never know who the ball will fall to.”

Speed on motivating a team of underdogs

Be confident, work hard and stick to the plan

1 Fill them with confidence

Before a game, I’d never downplay the ability of your opponents. I think it’s better for players to just know their strengths and weaknesses.
You have to fill your own players with confidence: tell them how good they are and that it’s vital they stick to the game plan.

2 Work can beat talent

If you’re playing a side with technically better players, tell yours to match the opponents for work rate and effort. Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard – that’s what I tell them. The most talented players usually work harder than anyone. We have to better that work rate.

3 Don’t drop the plan

If you are underdogs and do go behind then it’s easy to abandon the game plan and do things differently, but it’s important for a player’s development that they stick to it. I might need to explain that at half-time, and outline the reasons why we had a plan and why we are best using it. You need to keep that discipline.

Gary Speed starred in the inaugural PFA British Airways Legends tournament in Barbado

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