Italian football was a huge part of my childhood. Firstly, the World Cup in 1990 was the first one where I could fully understand the size of the tournament, learn about the players, and get an appreciation of world football. All the best players seemed to play their club football in Italy and when Gazzetta Football Italia arrived to Channel 4 in 1993, I made sure I never missed a minute of it. Twenty plus years later, as coach, the Italian game and culture still fascinates me and that's one of the reasons why I was so excited to talk to Fabrizio Piccareta. His views on the tactical evolution of Italian football were fascinating. He described how the game has changed slightly from studying and reacting to the opposition (see video below) and more towards coaches like Maurizio Sarri who are more aggressive with their own identity and sometimes are not willing to have a 'Plan B'. He then brought it back towards his own philosophy and the balance between a strong identity, but also having the flexibility to change and adapt to certain games.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed during the conversation was the value that Fabrizio gave to context. He discussed his experiences at Sunderland and Swindon with Paolo Di Canio, but often pointed out that every environment is different and this can change how information is received and interpreted. However, the one constant that we must never forget is the relationship with the player. Below is a great example as Fabrizio compares coaching with sales and how the player must respect the coach or "they will not buy" from them.
The final topic for the conversation was quite possibly the most inspiring for coaches at all levels. When it comes to coach education, there is certainly a mentality amongst coaches that it is a real inconvenience (both with time and money) so we look to get the courses "knocked out" as quick as possible. Many believe that with courses completed, you then have more time to work with your team and players. Fabrizio however, takes a much different approach to his coach education. It was by reading his Pro Licence document that I first came across his work, so I was aware of how seriously he took the experience. Listening to him describe the impact that Kevin Keegan's presentation had on him and how powerful energy and charisma are when delivering messages was excellent. I think Fabrizio's message is really important to young coaches in this regard: the education of a coach is a never ending process, rather than a certificate or a course. Incorporating what you learn on a daily basis allows you to constantly reflect and review your own processes, as well as demonstrating a great deal of humility to your players and your peers. In a game that is constantly changing and evolving, that approach can almost be a necessity for a coach who wants to stay in the game a long time.
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