Last February, Michael Beale had an exclusive interview with Anfield Edition, focusing on topical affairs with regards to Liverpool Football Club. This time, the questions are significantly more tactically orientated, asking Michael about the similarities and differences that are prevalent in Brazil, in comparison to England.
Briefly sum-mating, we ask the ex-Liverpool and current Sau Paulo coach about the tactical comparisons between Brazil and England, the influence and importance a coach has on a player, transferring Brazilian tactics into the English game at a youth level, possible alterations to views on positions after experiencing the Brazilian outlook on football, communications between Klopp and Tite (Brazil national team manager), Michael’s likely next destination, upcoming talents in the Brasiliero, Luan and Gerrard’s influence on the U18’s.
Sounds like your cup of tea? If so, great!
Before I give my personal outlook on Michael’s responses, I’d like to thank @Brodinho who helped to provide the plethora of questions myself and @ZAC_AE constructed, providing an insightful and interesting interview!
And of course thank you to Michael Beale for exclusively featuring for us at Anfield Edition yet again, it’s always great to hear about your views on footballing proceedings!
QUESTION: What is the football comparison like in South America Vs the UK?
The football played is very different in style. The premier league is played at a very fast pace and with world stars in the league. The Brasileiro has many good players and especially young players that will arrive in the big European leagues in the coming years. The style here is more slower, technical and with an emphasis on individual ability to create a chance or score a goal. The schedule of games is also very hectic and this plays a big role in the intensity levels along with the heat and travelling.
My views: The slower style was something that surprised me despite being a fan of the Brazilian style, this is probably due to Neymar and Gabriel Jesus compilations! However, I find this an interesting response which really makes sense after thinking about it, as Michael states the slower pace allows players to show off their ability to penetrate mid-fields and defenses, which then makes it easy to catch the eye of scouts. The comment on hectic schedule correlates with the almost instantaneous impact that Brazilian players have on the Premier League despite incredibly congested fixtures, especially around December/January time; recent examples being Jesus, Oscar and Coutinho.
QUESTION: You have helped 18 players get a crack at first team football in the last 3 years, how much of an influence is the youth coach & how much is it to the player?
I think youth coaches are very important at every step of the players development. It’s important to have the right coaches at each age group that can push the players onwards. The u18 and u23 coaches need to make sure a player is ready for men’s football and has a clear identity as a player that a first team manager can invest in and use. However, a coach can only work with the talent they have and therefore, it’s often the case that a players will and drive will be the ex factor that gets them through over a team mate with similar ability. The coach is more of a guide in the older ages and just adding some finishing touches in regards to what the first team manager wants and also to make sure the player has the self belief to make the next step to a first team environment.
My views: As Michael says player development is a mixture of dedication and coaching advice. Any successful player classically talks about commitment, which may appear as a boring and untruthful response however ultimately it couldn’t be more accurate. In any profession the attitude the person has to drive forwards can only be molded by the mentor who has either been in the person’s shoes/ or is an expert in that field, and football is no different. A coach also has to be psychologically aware, needing to find the right balance between complements and constructive criticism, as a player can never feel like he is obliged to start every week as this has a negative knock on effect. This is the case even at Premier League level, if you look at Simon Mignolet at Liverpool when he knew he had no competition for a staring spot with Brad Jones/ Adam Bogdan next in contention, he was tragic. However, comparing this to his incredible caliber of season he is having now that Klopp signed a fellow high standard keeper in Karius, these performances are better than ever before and up there with the leagues best.
QUESTION: Would you look to implement what you’ve learnt in Brazil and share these coaching methods in England, do you see this as a possibility despite the varying attitudes towards the sport?
I think I have learnt a lot about South American footballers – especially Brazilians and Argentinians and that is fantastic for my development. If you look at players such as Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Coutinho, Aguero etc the best players are still coming from South America and therefore, in terms of developing attacking players, the ideas I will bring home will be very useful.
My views: The reason why the world’s best are coming from South America is the natural ability they possess, their intricacy on the ball could be analysed for months. The move to Brazil has allowed Michael to study this breed of footballer in great detail. The question has to be asked, why aren’t more coaches turning to places like Brazil/Argentina to give them a diversified outlook on football. Personally, I think this venture to Brazil will hugely benefit Michael if/when he decides to return to England (hopefully Liverpool) via the implementation of these methods. Subsequently, this should improve the technicality of the academy Michael works at, although the biggest challenge would be the mental aspect, as I don’t believe that the approaches to football are the same in the two countries with youngsters.
QUESTION: Has Brazil changed your views on the main roles of certain positions? For example would you now see the full back role as being slightly more offensive than perhaps previously?
Not really – it’s opened my eyes to the fact that technique is a given in South America and very few players have poor technique compared to young English players. However, just because a player has excellent technique it doesn’t mean he is a top player, otherwise all Brazilians would be better than all players in Europe and that simply isn’t the case. It’s still a matter of having an understanding of how to use your talent and having an awareness of your role in the team. Clarity of role and your decision making in the game are the most important things.
My views: This is something that perhaps surprised me, especially the full back scenario. Brazil seem to always have slight tweaks to the ‘clasic’ tactical system in comparison to other nationalities. An example being the full back position; Brazil traditionally have always had extremely offensive minded full backs with immense stamina who have the ability to act like a winger, however not forget their role of defending either (as Michael says, clarity of role is vital).
QUESTION: It’s reported that Klopp and Tite communicate with regards to Coutinho, could you give an insight of whether these discussions are tactically orientated or simply regard fitness recommendations? (If this is something you are aware of)
I’m sure all national team managers will liaise with club managers from time to time. Coutinho is obviously very important to Liverpool and recently he captained Brazil which is a huge personal achievement for him. I’m sure that at times, the club and national associations will liaise more often via fitness or medical staff to just check that a player is ok physically for the games and also when returning to the clubs. Both teams have different goals and ambitions for the players and the most important information you can have is often the health and condition of the players while you have them.
My views: As far as Michael is aware these alleged discussions consist of talk about fitness. However, it feels like there is more going on between Klopp and Tite, maybe the two coaches who appear to be admirers of Coutinho, are the reason why Philippe is reaching that world class bracket of player, with the addition of high-level consistency?
QUESTION: Do you feel as if Spain could be the next step, where you could work with specialists of the technical side of the game after seeing the physicality in England and skill+flair in Brazil?
I’m not sure where I’ll be after this experience. I’m open to a lot of things, maybe going into Europe or coming home. It’s a case of waiting to see which offers are available and the most interesting project. For sure, I’m ready to be a manager but I also love youth development which is the beautiful part of football and much more personal than first team football. So let’s see – spain is a wonderful country for football but opportunities are hard to come by.
My views: From the sounds of it, Michael seems to be quite keen on a move to Spain, I feel as if he would have just avoided that last part of the question if this wasn’t the case. It seems like a logical next move when/if he feels his time is up in Brazil, allowing Michael to experience football in a diverse manner. I also really like the way he speaks of coaching and the fact he prefers to work closely with the players, helping them to improve and achieve their dreams, something that doesn’t quite get you the headlines but instead personal satisfaction!
QUESTION: There is a lot of talent in Brazil/South America. Are there any names that stand out and perhaps big clubs like Liverpool should be keeping an eye on?
There are many good players in Brazil. In São Paulo we have the best academy of Brazil and have many young players to excite people. In recent months we have sold players to holland, France and Italy that are just 19 or 20 years old. I am reluctant to name players from the São Paulo squad as I wish for them to stay a little longer in our club. However, I really like a number of players in other Brazilian teams such as Douglas (Vasco) De Arracuesta (Cruzeiro) Lima and Zeka (Santos) Mina (Palmeiras) luan (grêmio) there is a lot of very good players here and too many to mention. But I think that maybe they are suited to spain before arriving in England.
My views: For obvious reasons Michael did not mention any promising stars at his club (Sau Paulo) for confidentiality reasons, however cheekily was ready to spill the goods when it comes to rival teams! We hear a lot in the news about Lima and Luan as they are linked with PL teams, therefore it’s no surprise that Michael mentions these names among the promising prospects in Brasiliero.
QUESTION: Gremio attacker Luan has been in the media recently but what are your thoughts on the player?
A very good player and one that has a bright future. Grêmio are the former team of Lucas Leiva and are currently having a very good start to the season.
My views: This question was probably asked purely off the basis that Luan has been linked with Liverpool at times, however from my knowledge Luan isn’t ready for a top 4 Premier League club, and also lacks the pace we really want to add into the frontline, to complement Sadio Mane. So hopefully the ‘interest’ remains an ‘interest’.
QUESTION: Last time we had an interview, i asked about what upcoming talents LFC had and who we should keep an eye out for. You said, “No !! Just sit back and wait for them to emerge!” Would you reveal who them players were?
Not yet – I think over the season they will come forward and shine a light on themselves. Obviously Rhian Brewster has stood out recently and he has a friend joining him from Chelsea in Dom Solanke who is another excellent player that will excite the fans. The club has so many talents and I’m excited to see the influence Steven Gerrard has on a few this season. I still watch all the u18 and u23 games as I’m a big supporter of the staff and players at the club
My views: It’s interesting to see Michael only mention Brewster out of all the potential names, Klopp also spoke very highly of Rhian, even giving him a few cameo performances off the bench last season, definitely one to look out for! The influence that Gerrard will have is inevitably going to be huge, as lets be honest, who wouldn’t want to show one of the greatest midfielders of all time that you are the one he should focus on, and develop into a first team player!
Thank you for reading till the end, I hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed being a part of this interview! Also, if you liked my personal understanding and interpretation do not hesitate to follow me on Twitter