Since the days of Catenaccio and Arrigo Sacchi's Milan, Italian football has built a formidable reputation as the world leaders in tactical systems and implementation. But what does this look like from an analysis perspective today? As part of our Friday webinars with APFA, we were recently joined by an analyst who has worked with Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Luciano Spalletti: Alessandro Davite. Prior to Roma, where he was a first-team match analyst, Alessandro was based in Milan where he studied at the University of Milan while also working with the AC Milan academy teams as an analyst. We talked with Alessandro about his journey to the professional level, the tactical culture in Italy, as well as some insights around tactical preparation and weekly processes as an analyst. This interview was an interactive format with coaches in attendance having the opportunity to get involved in the discussion.
One of the takeaways of the interview was Alessandro's perspective of the pressure within those environments in Serie A. Discussing how Jose Mourinho creates an environment where there are high amounts of tactical flexibility, as well as understanding what the opponent will bring to the game was extremely insightful. Below is a clip from the interview where Alessandro talks about how Mourinho "finds the balance" with all of the players involved in his Roma squad. Hearing this type of insight is a good reason why coaches must not place a huge amount of value on the media perception of coaches. Mourinho is often labelled as someone who is a very structured and defensive minded coach, but when you hear from those who have worked with him, you always hear about his flexibility and skill in changing systems relative to opponents or specific skill-sets within his own squad. (See below)
Another coach who Alessandro worked alongside and discussed was Antonio Conte. Again, he had very positive things to say about the manager, but the way he worked was quite different to Mourinho in terms of how he favored continuity with a certain system of play. This is a great lesson for a young analyst to understand. You may work with one coach who likes to change system based on players/opponents, or you may work with a coach who prefers to keep the same system and find spaces against a certain system. Neither one is right or wrong. Both are successful and it's up to the analyst to adapt their skills and processes around the preferences of the coach. (See below)
That theme of being open minded and adaptable were constant themes throughout the interview with Alessandro. I also enjoyed the perspective of life-balance (or the lack of it!) and the mindset that Alessandro adopted at an early age to reach these high levels. We hear a lot about the motivations of players and coaches, but an analyst will have their own set of sacrifices and challenges to work through as they go through their journey into the professional game. You can watch the full presentation on the APFA website for FREE by clicking here.
Please join Gary Curneen for another webinar this Friday, March 31, when he is joined by another guest to discuss analysis and game models.