Playing philosophy

Having been a paying fan to watch football, I never minded losing a game as long as I was entertained by what I saw. As a Sheffield Wednesday fan, for years I watched the first team play ‘long ball’, which I found tedious to watch. It wasn’t until Carlos Carvahal arrived in 2015 and applied the famous Portuguese ‘Tactical Periodization’ approach that we saw a style of possession based attacking football that was so enthralling to watch.

for 2 seasons we saw some of the best football played under Carlos Carvahal

As a coach, I have always wanted my teams, no matter the age & stage, ability or context to play ‘entertaining football’. In my younger days coaching in junior football, I wanted my teams to play exciting attacking based football, I wanted the players to showcase their ability and show what we had developed in training. I wanted parents and on-lookers to have enjoyed watching my team play. Even if we lost the game, I was always happy if we had played an entertaining game.

Carlos Carvahal – Sheffield Wednesday manager from 2015 – 2017

Moving away from the style of football, It has always been one of my core belief’s that as a coach in youth football, we should not train or play players in ‘one specific position’ throughout their development. In my opinion, this constrains players development and prevents them from fulfilling their potential (see my second blog post “training and playing players in all positions – the Ajax philosophy” where I explore this in more detail). I believe that within youth football, we should train and play players in different positions throughout their development.

Of course, one club that is famous for this approach is Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax from the Netherlands (commonly known as Ajax). One of the clubs underlying principles is that “All Ajax youth players will train in every position until they reach the age 15/16, by then they will have a set position” (Searson, 1995, n.d; Ajax youth academy, n.d). 

Like many, I was a big admirer of how Ajax played under the tactics of Erik Ten Haag in the 2018/19 season, in particular in the Champions League. I was so entertained watching the first team play and began watching the clubs games in the Eredivise.

Rinus Michels – regarded as the creator of ‘total football’

I began to comprise some research into Ajax’s philosophy and their fundamental principles of play. This of course lead me to Rinus Michels famous concept, ‘total football’.

My research into the Ajax philosophy & total football provided me with the inspiration to create my own football philosophy. My philosophy is based on the fundamental principles from of these philosophies.

I believe that the game should be played in a way that is:

  • Attractive
  • Creative
  • Fast
  • Offensive-minded
  • Possession based
  • Player rotation

Simply put, my playing philosophy is to play offensive-minded possession based football, which is attractive, creative, fast to watch and includes player rotation.


Searson (1995) [online] available from: [] Accessed 5th December 2019

Ajax (n.d) [online] available from: [] Accessed 19th December 2019

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