Manchester United’s counter attack soccer strategy

Any good defensive strategy should start from the front of the pitch with the centre forwards. Conversely Attacking should start from the back. It is important that defenders and goal keepers learn how to pass the ball in there own third when a low pressure situation exists. A very common team formation is the 4:4:2 especially in youth soccer. The means that if both sides adopt this formation then only two attackers will be challenging 5 defensive players in the attacking third. For this reason the odds are clearly stacked in favour of the defending team maintaining possession.

Another benefit of this is that maintaining possession in your own third means that you give you midfielders and attacking forwards players chance to get into position to move the ball forward and attack the opposition half. This drill is designed to teach players how to get the ball from the back, with composure, to the centre forwards in a controlled pattern.

Set up of the counter attack soccer strategy

counter attack soccer strategy

For this drill you will need 16 players, 2 goal keepers, 8 defenders, 4 centre forwards and 2 midfielders and a full size pitch divided into 3rds. Both teams have 4 defenders in there own third and a goalkeeper. The opposition will also have 2 attacking centre forwards in the opposition 3rd. See figure 1. The drill starts by one of the midfielders taking a simple shot at the goalkeeper.

In a team of 16 players it is highly unlikely that you have 8 defenders. For this drill i set my main back 4 together on one team and just used some midfielders on the opposite side. The most important thing is that you get your centre forwards and main defenders understanding the patterns

Each team must pass the ball in there own third at least 4 times

They must try to use the goalkeeper as well as the defenders to keep possession

Only the goalkeeper can use the midfielder to pass the ball forward, but the midfielder must immediately pass the ball back to one of the defenders.

Defenders can only get the ball into the opposition third by playing a ball up the line to the attacking centre forward.

On receiving the ball from the defender, the attacking centre forward must try to hold the ball up to then lay off to the midfielder and then make attacking runs in the attacking third. They can use the midfielder any number of times to try to keep possession.

Midfielders must not defend against each other, they are only their to support the centre forwards and defenders

If centre forwards win possession from the opposition defenders they must pass the ball back to their own defenders so the build up process can begin again.

Figure 1

The main idea of the drill is to teach the defenders to gain composure in there own third and not feel panicked when closed down by the centre forwards. A typical pattern is when a shot has been made on the goal keeper and the goalkeeper successfully gains possession. Once this happens both centre back must move left and right of the 18 yard goal area, as show in figure 2 whilst the left and right backs move up the field. This creates a large amount of space between the defenders and the opposition centre forwards, which gives the defenders time to see and judge where to put the ball.

Figure 2

The other important part of the drill is getting the ball to the centre forwards. One way to do this is for the left centre back or goalkeeper to play the ball to the left backs. Upon doing so the centre back immediately drops off behind the left back, who immediately passes the ball back to the centre back. Upon receiving the centre back then curls the ball up the line to the centre forward. It is important at this point that the centre forward is standing inside the field and comes short to receive the ball. They must also shield the ball and hold up the play to then pass the ball off to the midfielder before attacking the space.