Evidence-Based Coaching & Match Analysis

Playing Philosophy

In order to evaluate a performance, we must first know what a good performance looks like, and why. A good performance for one coach does not always guarantee another coach would agree.

To help with this, many coaches and technical directors believe there is a benefit in developing a playing philosophy to implement throughout their club.

This article written by Michael Caley identifies a clear pattern in the profile of teams managed by Mauricio Pochettino:

Profiling Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino is also featured in this article on Southampton F.C. who are often praised for their long-term sustainability, which emphasizes player development. In recent years they have produced and sold Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain & Theo Walcott.

Southampton are finally reaping the rewards of their long-term philosophy

American Soccer Analysis is a website dedicated to providing an analytical perspective on Major League Soccer and Jarred Young wrote the following investigation into playing styles and success:

Evaluating Team Styles – Proactive Score

Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis have famously overachieved against the odds with their teams by focusing on a defensive style which values set pieces, a subject which will be covered later in the course. 21st Club, who were featured Module 2, is a company which provides succession planning and consultancy to many professional teams across the world. They investigated the value of prioritizing defense over attack here:

The Biggest Bang For Your Buck

Manchester City and the Philadelphia Union are two clubs which have publicly expressed their beliefs of implementing a club-wide playing philosophy:


Oliver Gage (Houston Dynamo) presents a mock playing style analysis of two teams entering Major League Soccer at a coaching convention.

Sporting Director Claudio Reyna wrote this style and principles of play curriculum during his time working with US Soccer.

Style and Principles of Play U.S. Soccer Coaching Curriculum

Matt Pilkington (New York City F.C.) and Lucy Rushton (Atlanta United) and Ewan Sharp (New York Red Bulls), explain how their club’s defined playing style aids player development:

The task for Module 4 is to describe our personal playing philosophy. How would we like your team to play and why do we wish them to play this way?

Some things we may wish to consider:

Are we one of a number of coaches in a club? If so does our club have a defined playing style you we supposed to be working towards?

Is there a certain style or philosophy, which is more suited to our region or league/conference? If so, why?

What are our overall goals? Player development may require a certain style of play compared to a results-based industry.

What limitations may define our style? Player age, technical ability, tactical understanding etc.

Use the comments section below to interact with other coaches and share thoughts. 


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