Thwaite's tips on central defending

Socceroo Michael Thwaite reveals how he turns defence into attack

Utilise the strikers’ weaknesses

“The way that I’ve always played the game is knowing that strikers are there for a reason. They are not there for being good defenders, so I try to utilise their weakness of that first line of defence. Every time that I get the ball I try to break that first line of the backline.”

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Attacking from the back

“When the ball has been transferred from a pressured area, normally that’s the queue to break that line where there might be a channel to attack.

“Once you have broken that first line, a lot of midfielders don’t like being dragged out of position and leaving their markers so it normally opens up quite a big channel. That’s something I try to utilise as well.”

Don’t be an old school screamer

“It’s important to provide positive reinforcement to your fellow defenders. You can’t be the old school dictator who screams at players emotionally, that’s going out of the game nowadays.

“It’s more about the specifics and actually coaching on the field. It’s about man-marking, squeezing up, dropping off, rather than any emotional rants.”

Central defending is about positional sense

“You need to be switched on positionally.You can’t afford to get caught ball watching. You’ve to have that positional sense as you are the last line of defence.

“Sometimes, depending on the speed of the strikers, you can try to give them half a yard, or less when you’re playing on bigger strikers, but it’s crucial that you’re that sweeping last line of defence.”

Work as a back two

“It’s about communication and balance.You’re working off each other for the whole game, covering each other when one goes up, the other gives a bit of space behind. You need to have a good balance for the whole game where you both don’t get caught square. The angles are very important there.”

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