I think we forgot how to play last week. In fact, in recent weeks – with different results – we simply haven’t been playing the same way as we did in the first six or seven rounds of the season.
At that time, we were playing one-or-two touch football but in recent outings we’ve been battling. It’s like watching an arm wrestle. We’ve turned the ball over too much, our ball speed has been far too slow for the NPL level and our decision-making has been poor. To give you an idea, at the beginning of the season, we were completing 300+ passes every game – recently we’ve been lucky to get 200.
Yet neither the assistant coach, Paul Daly, or myself ever give an instruction to “Punt the ball up the park!” But that’s what tends to happen when players hang their heads and the team loses shape.
So what have we done? We’ve gone back to pre-season; not in terms of fitness but reminding the players what their role is, what the responsibilities are for each position on the park, what we expect from them individually and what sort of football we want played.
Having said all that, we did have a number of players out for one reason or another last week. We’ll have some of them back this weekend – eg. Jacob Crowley and Ari Isman - and this will help in terms of confidence and communication on the park. But as I always say, when more experienced players are out, it’s a great opportunity for young players to play a blinder and say “Pick me!” That’s what I’m looking for.
By the way, I hope you’re enjoying the Women’s World Cup like I am. I think the Matildas will sneak a win tomorrow morning. They are playing good football and they have plenty of spirit and passion. Don’t be surprised if they go all the way.
Ian Ferguson is Director of Coaching of Northern Fury FC and Head Coach of the NPL team. He has previously coached Perth Glory and the former NQ Fury in the A-League. His playing career spanned 18 years, mostly with Rangers in the Scottish Premier League. He was capped nine times for Scotland.