How to stop a speed demon

Get tight and shut down the space against a nippy winger, says former Crystal Palace gaffer George Burley

“I’ve been told I’ve got deceptive pace – I’m slower than I look! Being a full-back, this doesn’t help as I’m always getting burned by the winger. Any tips?”
Ben Tamworth, via email

George Burley says:

More after the break

“It’s important when playing against a fast winger that you stop the space. If you’re playing against somebody quicker than you, you’ve got to get really tight. As a full-back in the 1978 FA Cup Final against Arsenal, Graham Rix was very quick, so I got tight and  didn’t allow him any space.

The trick is to arrive when he receives the ball so that he hasn’t got time to run at you and get into the space behind. Close him down early and don’t give him a chance to build up momentum, because once a winger knows he has the beating of you, you’re in for a hard time. 

“It’s worth remembering that attack can be the best form of defence. In the ’78 final, I kept going forward which meant the winger had to follow me back. If he’s tracking back the other way, his pace isn’t an issue. The key, though, is having faith in your ability – without that you’re always going to be looking  over your  shoulder.”

Also see:
Full-back: How to attack

Last 5 mins and you need a goal

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