How to stay compact

Afford your opponent no room for manoeuvre with tactical tips from Liverpool's academy director, Alex Inglethorpe

Space between the lines is a dream for the likes of Eden Hazard and David Silva, the Premier League's wily operators who love nothing more than poking holes in disorganised defences. 

On the flip side, there's little more frustrating than playing against a team protecting a lead, who throw men behind the ball and just won't budge. 

More after the break

Sitting tight has its advantages – mainly in that teams will find it incredibly difficult to play through you – but plenty of reasons for caution too. All in all, says Liverpool academy director Alex Inglethorpe, it's about weighing up what your weekend warriors are capable of. 

"If you're looking to reduce the space in between the lines of your team, the first thing you have to do is look at your back four and see whether they're capable of playing higher up the pitch," he says. "That's the easiest way. 

"The flip side of that is if your centre-halves aren't athletic then you'll leave an awful lot of space in behind you. And if your keeper isn't a great sweeper either then you'll be exposed. 

"The other way is getting your midfield to sit a bit deeper, or your centre-forwards, to make sure there's no space behind you. The consequence then is that you need quick forwards, because there's a lot of space in behind the opposition defence then. 

"It depends on the make-up of your team. If you have gifted midfielders they want space, so giving them room between the lines isn't always such a bad thing."  

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

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