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Michael Kightly: Seize the initiative

“Every week my team makes a slow start to the game and we gives ourselves a mountain to climb. How do you start on the front foot?”
Josh Goodwin, via email

Michael Kightly says:

“I’ve played in teams that have come out so fast, we’ve sucker-punched the opposition and the game feels virtually won right from the start.

But if you start too frantically you can exhaust yourselves and end up losing goals late on.

At Stoke, Tony Pulis likes us to line up very compact and not give away anything early – we try to stay in games for as long as we can.

So being disciplined and knowing your role right from the start is the key. It’s something to think about during the team talk.

Some sides like to show aggression from the start – and it can work against certain opponents – but I find it makes me play better if the opposition do that.

I get riled up if somebody is trying to smash me, and want to prove a point.

Hitting some balls long in the first few minutes can work well. Try to stretch the game and test the defence with pace.

This will get them playing towards their own goal, which could highlight any defensive weaknesses. It can give you a good start, and allows you to pass the ball later on.”

For more football tips see:
Start the game at top speed
Kick-off on the front foot