Gretar Steinsson is a regular for the Iceland National team and he’s captained his team too, even scoring on his National team debut against Brazil. He has played for some top teams in Europe and spent 4 years in the English Premier League for Bolton Wanderers. He offered to share some of his experiences with The Coaching Blueprint.
We asked him;
Which coach has been most influential in you becoming the player you are and why were they so influential? Methods they used? Things they said to you?
When I was younger I was really into tactics and training. I would a buy paper like A1 and draw a pitch on it, then I was reading a book about tactics. Talked about how tactic changes over the year. How Dutch played then the Germans and Brazil. I used to match up different tactics and see where the advance would be where a free man play. I was about 10 and I did this after I red in Pele’s autobiography that he used to draw up a pitch to see tactics, 15 years later I joined AZ Alkmaar and the manager there was Mr Van Gaal.
I thought that I knew a lot – 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1; you often hear fans or newspapers say they should play 4-4-2, I never really thought really deep but knew that would not be the best option, because it would not always be good against another system.
With van gaal we not just discussed this in meeting but we were thought to think deeper and ask the question why?
Why should we play this system what system do the others play. Where is our free man. How should we press the other team.
Our meeting were like a class room where he used power point and got players up to the board to answer his questions. After going over how the opponent would play, the player who was called up needed to answer what system would we play and why and after every right answer he would push a button to show the system.
In pre-season we would get a book, in that book was every system we would play depending on what the other team played. Every variation of set pieces for and against.
In that book were also rules on how we should represent the club.
He made players feel important, they were involved and they felt responsible for results. He would be honest in interviews but defend the players, but in his office or in a meeting after a game he would let you know if you were wrong.
People, commentators and even players at the highest level think they know it all but most of them could not see the system teams are playing, or what kind of pressure team uses and other details because they are so focused on following the ball.
This is such a great insight into the mind of a Professional player and the methods employed by one of the worlds best coaches to ensure that their team does all they can to do to be successful. What is particularly interesting is the education of the players – the book produced, the Q&A with the players was all aimed at developing intelligent players.
Feel free to share your thoughts.