The first training session with a new team is a big opportunity for a newly-appointed head coach. The incoming staff are looking to build relationships, assess the current pool of players, and introduce their style and philosophy on the club. However, the dynamics of going about this in the Premier League are extremely challenging with the compact schedule and the pressure attached to every game. Frank Lampard and his staff do not have the luxury of periodizing their physical and tactical plans from the first week of pre-season so navigating around this at the midway point can be a challenge. When you are observing a session without dialogue beforehand with the coach or staff, it can be difficult to gauge the objectives. That said, session design is a fascinating topic at the best of times and even the process of speculating the outcomes can be beneficial for coaches at all levels.
Even before training started, the work began for Lampard and his staff. Walking out to the pitch and waiting for everyone to come out are prime opportunities for coaches to build those personal relationships with players and develop those early connections. Below you can see Frank Lampard walked out with experienced professional Seamus Coleman, while new assistant coach Paul Clement had some informal conversations out on the pitch. Clement's extensive experience at Real Madrid, PSG, and Bayern Munich could potentially allow him to help Frank Lampard communicate with different languages and backgrounds in his new role.
Following the activation, the players went into a pretty traditional 7v2 rondo set-up (see below). This is quite a common activity for professional teams and, although there may be no tactical theme towards the exercise, it can build morale and momentum going into the sessions. The positioning of the coaching staff was interesting here as they are quite heavily involved trying to drive the tempo and energy of the group. This may be something Frank Lampard was quite deliberate about going into the session as he arrives with a reputation himself of being an outstanding trainer. Therefore, his body language and enthusiasm on the training pitch can be designed to show his new players how exactly he wants training to be approached every day.
After the rondo, Lampard and his staff moved into a 4v4+3 set-up (detailed in the video below). There are a number of tactical concepts that coaches can work on in this exercise, but again, you can see the approach of Lampard to be quite deliberate in setting the tone in terms of tempo and intensity. The nature of the exercise allows coaches to really emphasize the transitions on the defensive side of the game, as well as challenging players to retain it once they win it. Another interesting aspect of the exercise was the use of goalkeepers to work as one of the neutrals, which could be to assess their ability in possession under pressure or to communicate that they will have a key role in the build-up moving forward.
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Following the 4v4+3 game, the players then went into a 6v6+2 exercise led by new assistant coach Joe Edwards. This looks to be a progression of the 4v4+3 game in terms of objectives in possession, and the speed of the transitions. The conditions of the game is for the team in possession to use the overload and circulate the ball around or through the pressure. It begins with a more patient build-up with a back four shape created in the design, where the players are more organized into set positions and then look to break pressure once the opposition press. Again, the moments of transition are stressed by the coaches to be as aggressive as possible. In exercises like this, you can get an appreciation of the ability of these players to secure possession and solve problems against the counter-press once they regain the ball.
The session seems to conclude following this exercise, but there is still an opportunity for players to work individually with a shooting exercise set-up at the end (see the video below). Again, this extra work is something Lampard valued as a player so is possibly a key part of the environment that he wants to create at Everton. It's also another opportunity for the new staff to connect with players in a more informal way, as well as a chance to observe different skillsets and abilities in a relaxed situation. Lampard's appreciation of the goalkeepers as he walked off the pitch is another good example to show that, although there is not a lot of time to prepare tactically with the Premier League schedule, being as deliberate as possible with every interaction on the training ground can help accelerate growth and build the trust required for performance on a game day.
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