In recent times, Klopp’s method is the most appropriate and consistent example of how tempo can be implemented as a team rather than on specific roles. A highlight of his approach is the defensive method of intense high press, oriented to win the ball in advanced areas and during early parts of opposition transition, or Gegenpressing. The attack shows an extra bit of fluidity and a fairly high tempo. We will turn our focus to a brief view of the attack and how tempo and players are related in the system.
The inherent team tempo is fast paced. Orthodox fast paced systems are based on longer average pass lengths. However, like most modern systems, the high press allows for a shorter average pass length, serving in favor of achieving good pass accuracy and decent levels of ball possession.
The system requires specific types of players for it to work. The entire team needs a good level of work rate and stamina to match the high intensity/high tempo play. A striker, two wide players, and two of the three midfielders form the basic attacking unit, with the full backs joining in the final phase. The other central midfielder bears a more stable, defensive oriented role, holding his position in midfield.
The entire attacking unit needs quick, agile players with the ability to play in central areas and small pockets of space. The striker needs to have the ability to play both in the hole linking passes (during buildup) and in the box.
The answer to whether specific roles for tempo control will persist boils down to the question of which method is more efficient – traditional role oriented tempo control or fairly modern team oriented tempo control.
The role-oriented approach is a time-tested method, with proven successful results for teams in the upper end of the table. However, there have been issues with finding suitable players for the role. It also means running the risk of having the player marked out of a game, like the Ferguson’s approach to negate Pirlo by having Park mark him out.
Team oriented tempo permit a more fluid, flowing attack with rich football in display and every attacker allowed an extra bit of creativity. Dortmund’s two brilliant seasons under Klopp highlight the possible brand of football this approach can produce, but this approach has its own issues. Due to the requirement of a specific type of player, teams will take time to adjust to these systems, often requiring extensive transfers and changes. Also, since the attack is based on a single approach style, there is very little room for implementing a plan B in attack.
In the end, both models of tempo control serve to highlight the pivotal role of this important aspect in modern football.
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