Danny Gabbidon: Outmuscle the targetman

Getting bullied by the opposition's big targetman? Don't worry veteran defender Danny Gabbidon has the answers

“It’s the same story every week for our team: we look good upfront, but our centre-back is a 5ft 7in weed who gets outmuscled by big, hulking centre forwards. What can I tell him to do?”
Alan Bodlane, Hampshire

More after the break

Danny Gabbidon says:

“It’s tough, but sometimes you’ve got to just try and let the big man have the ball. If you try and wrestle with big strikers, they can make you look a bit silly. Trying to match your strength with his is impossible.

Obviously in the box when the crosses are coming in, you have to try and get in front of the striker then – when defending a corner, for example, try and be aggressive: when the ball’s there, get to it first and win it.

But in open play, sometimes you have to accept a striker is going to win a header from you, or hold the ball up, and you have to try and be a bit clever. Don’t use strength: try to get the ball in front of the striker, or get your midfielder to come and help you from the other side.

He [your opponent] might have a bad touch if you put a little bit of pressure on him. It depends on what kind of defender you are, as well. If you’ve got a good leap then even if you’re smaller you can win your fair share of headers.”

For more football tips see:
Sylvain Distin: Dominate your opponent
Franco Baresi: How to defend like a master
Chris Smalling: How to be the complete defender
Rio Ferdinand: The thinking man's guide to defending
Ashley Cole: How to handle every opponent

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