"If they can get an early goal…"
Ah, that old punditry gem. It works both ways ("…it would just settle the nerves" or, if things went wrong, "I think they almost scored too early"), but in general there's little doubt that a flying start can set the tone for a dominant display.
More after the break
Getting a headstart on your opponents can knock their confidence and crumble a game plan from the get-go. And what could be more boosting than seeing opposition heads drop early on?
First things first, though, you need possession – and some smart heads around you.
"To start quickly, the first thing you need is the ball," says Alex Inglethorpe, Liverpool academy director. "So I would encourage my team to press up the pitch and regain the ball as often as we can in the opposition half, and then to be progressive with the ball to capitalise on mistakes.
"You can possibly take risks in the first 10-15 minutes, in terms of counter-attacking and looking for one-v-ones, or isolating a centre-half.
"You need the ball but you need prolonged periods of possession, so then it's a case of when you've won it high, making good decisions to keep them in their half."
Alex Inglethorpe was speaking at the Science + Football Conference. This year's conference is on Sunday, April 12 at St George's Park. For more information visit www.scienceandfootball.com.