What is Total Football?
Total Football is regarded as the most exciting tactic ever developed, this inspiring strategy that transformed the game in the 1970s was thought to have been born in the Netherlands at a time the Dutch hailed some of the world’s greatest players.
In simple terms, Total Football is an attack-based approach where players are able (and comfortable enough) to play in any position across the field. Movement and the ability to find space as well as dexterity are key skills that any player in the system must possess.
How it Works
To enable Total Football to work effectively all outfield players must be able to switch position, this not only confuses opposing players but it also means that more players offer both defensive and attacking qualities.
The key players in this system are the midfielders, in particular to need a ‘midfield general’ who is equally comfortable playing centre forward as he is playing centre half, the Dutch have always been blessed with this type of player, with most notably Johan Cruyff and Ruud Gullit having this attribute.
The Man Behind The Idea
During the 1974 World Cup Finals the Dutch national team brought Total Football to world prominence under the coach Rinus Michels watchful eye. Michels wasn’t a fan of the Italian defensive style of play known as “catenaccio” which was basically a man-marking style.
Michels previously managed Ajax and counteracted man-marking by playing the Total Football way making it very difficult for opposing players who were instructed to follow one designated opponent.
The Dutch Way
Dutch football has always maintained a certain way to teach and play football, as an example Ajax, one of Dutch football’s most famous clubs adopt the same training and team formation style from the age of 8 years upwards, this means that youngsters learn to play the same style and strategy as their more senior counterparts making it a simple step to the next level of their football education.
Schools, colleges and football clubs teach the same football methods and all are funded by governmental football grants that allow young players the very best football training equipment.