Earning the right to win: How We Make Footballers challenge their players to reach their potential

Success and victory in football are never guaranteed. Earning the right to win – a mindset that the best players in the world all share because the importance of it was drilled into them from a young age.

How do you make a child understand that success must be earned? For many, it comes with what they learn playing with friends and older siblings. When family or playground bragging rights are on the line, nobody is going to go easy on a younger child based on their age.

This teaches them that success has to be earned and when it comes, to savour it. The more gratifying and hard-earned a victory, the better it feels. And the better it feels, the greater the desire to experience that feeling again – breeding a winner’s mentality.

Take Declan Rice for example. Now one of the finest midfielders in the Premier League and a mainstay of the England setup, Rice grew up playing with his older brothers Connor and Jordan. 

They did not want to lose to their youngest sibling and so Rice learnt from a young age that he was going to have to try hard and earn success against his own family.

Speaking to the Football Association as part of their Growing Up series, Rice tells the story of how he was determined to become a better player to compete with his brothers.

Needless to say, as a future Three Lions international, he did that: “When I was six or seven, I’d be going to play with them at five-a-side and I remember dribbling around all their mates who couldn’t believe it, for a young kid to be doing that to them.”

Rice did not always win, however. His brothers would occasionally outdo him. And the failures he experienced were as instrumental in his becoming a professional as his success.

They taught him to deal with setbacks – and none was bigger than when Rice was released from Chelsea’s academy at the age of 14 after seven years with the Blues.

Through the lessons of his childhood and bouncing back from defeat, Rice knew that hard work could help him overcome the blow of being told he was too small to make it at Chelsea. He knew he could earn a chance at another academy by increasing his efforts.

Within a few months, Rice was snapped up by West Ham United. After a little over 12 months, he signed his first professional contract as a 16-year-old was handed a senior debut at the age of 18 and followed that with his England debut two years later.

There are hundreds of other stories like Rice’s, of players who were told they were not good enough but who had a steely determination running through them, thanks to their upbringing.

This is why belief in earning the right to win and learning from failure is an important component of the We Make Footballers philosophy

Our franchisees help teach children that work is the key to progression and that they should never take their talent or ability for granted. We ingrain this in our players by constantly challenging them to improve.

We do this by not shying away from taking decisions to move children up. If they are finding football too easy, then it is time to put them against older or better players.

Otherwise, they can be lured into thinking that football is so simple that they no longer need to work as hard as they can to better themselves. 

Whilst it can be tempting to leave the star player at an age group where they dominate so that the team does better, that is no good for the individual. 

We Make Footballers franchisees identify and prioritise what is best for the individual development of every player and will always take the right course of action for them.

The idea of challenging children to drive improvement is common across sports. In baseball, children initially learn to hit with a heavily weighted bat. They find this hard to start with but eventually, it builds strength in their arms.

Once enough practice has been done, the weights are removed. The child now has the strength and technique to hit the ball much further with a normal bat because they had to overcome the challenge of doing so with the heavier bat.

The same concept applies to children playing football as an age group up. They are facing more experienced opponents with higher skill sets. These opponents will not go soft on the younger child just because of their age, meaning that winning is achieved on merit. 

A young player will learn much more in this environment than they would dominate against children their age every week, where they can make mistakes that go unpunished and subsequently uncorrected, leading to bad habits. 

Alan Hansen once famously said of Manchester United’s Class of 92, “You can’t win anything with kids.” Not only did Sir Alex Ferguson prove that statement wrong, but by chucking Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville into his senior side at such a young age, he presented all six with challenges to overcome.

That made them better players in the long run, capable of staying at the top of the game for over a decade. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen thrived after being chucked in at the deep end as teenagers, having accelerated their way through age-group football. 

Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka are the latest talents to follow in their footsteps. Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling both burst onto the scene as teenagers and remain key components of current England set up several years later.

One of Ferguson’s predecessors at Old Trafford once said, “If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.” Sir Matt Busby was referring to his Busby Babes, who went on to overcome the tragedy of the Munich Air Disaster to become the first English club to win the European Cup.

The best managers develop the best players by challenging them to overcome more difficult assignments through hard work and learning, ultimately teaching them to earn the right to win.

We Make Footballers franchisees do the same – and there is rarely a better feeling in the coaching game than seeing a young player achieve the standards you believe them capable of.


Making good practice permanent

Good or bad practice permanently impacts players. It is one of the core principles of We Make Footballers and the print that we have on our shirts. And it underlines the difference that new WMF franchisees can make to children in their local area when setting up an academy.

When We Make Footballers arrives in a town, village or city, children have increased access to the sport. Increased access means the opportunity to play more which, based on the 10,000-hour rule, is only a good thing for their development as players.

The 10,000-hour rule is a concept that can be traced back to a 1993 University of Colorado paper written by Professor Anders Ericson. Titled ‘The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance’, the paper states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. The definition of practice makes perfect if you like.

Professor Ericson based his findings on a study carried out on child violin players in Berlin. For three years between the ages of five and eight, a group of children in the German capital all practised the instrument for roughly the same amount of time.

At the age of eight, practice time between the children began to differ. Some continued playing the instrument regularly whilst the dedication of others dwindled. 

By the age of 20, the elite violin players amongst the group had amassed over 10,000 hours of practice each. The less able had less than 4,000 hours.

The ability of every violin player roughly corresponded to how much practice they had put in. There was no sign of any ‘natural ability; a child who had become an elite player after only 4,000 hours of practice. The study showed that the more you played the violin, the better at it you became.

But it is not merely enough to practice something – that practice needs to be overseen by a qualified expert, who can teach skills and pass on good habits which then become second nature. This is where We Make Footballers franchisees make a difference.

When humans learn a new skill, the muscles are trained to carry out the movements required until they become second nature. This takes time; our bodies and mind are often unsure and tentative at first.

After hours of practice though, we master the skill to the point where we do not even need to think about what we are doing. Think about learning to drive. At first, there is far too much going on at once to think about – changing gear, indicating, checking mirrors, braking.

By the time you come to your driving test, however, all these separate processes have become one activity that you can perform with ease through practice, practice, practice. 

You will not pass your test though if you have been taught bad practices along the way, like braking with the clutch down, not stopping at zebra crossings or honking your horn at other road users.

To put this into a football context, imagine a player going through one-on-one with a goalkeeper. A child who attends a We Make Footballers academy will have been taught and practised that when you get such an opportunity, you should prepare yourself for the shot by looking up and, if possible, getting the ball onto your stronger foot.

By embedding this as part of the shooting process, it becomes ingrained in the child’s muscle memory. Every time they get a sight of a goal, it becomes second nature to analyse what the ‘keeper is doing and make sure they are properly set.

A child whose sole football practice comes in the park with no guidance from a We Make Footballers coach will likely have a different approach. If they have never been taught what a difference looking up can make, they might end up keeping their head down when they go to shoot.

Years of doing this – or 10,000 hours – will mean that looking up never becomes a part of their muscle memory for the process of shooting. And once the brain has been taught and wired to perform a task in a certain way, it can be very hard to retrain.

Which of those two young players do you think has the better chance of scoring goals? The self-taught child with their head down or the player from We Make Footballers who are looking up, seeing where to shoot, and setting themselves to do so with their stronger foot?

This is what we mean by good or bad practice permanently impacts players. When a We Make Footballers franchise brings good practice to their area, it transforms the footballing ability of children by teaching them the skills and habits they need to become better players.

Thanks to the coaching of We Make Footballers franchisees, over 2000 children have already joined local grassroots teams. More than 160 players have signed with professional academies.

Those numbers will get even bigger over the coming year. Having already grown by 140 per cent in the past 12 months, We Make Footballers are looking to expand to 50 franchises in the United Kingdom and four internationally. This will help us deliver on our mission of contributing to England becoming the best footballing nation on Earth.

Good practice permanently impacts players. If you want to help ensure the next generation of players gets good practice at the same time as launching a career in football coaching, then you can find out more about becoming a We Make Footballers franchise on our website.


The 10 most influential football managers of all time

Yes, it is another one of those most influential and greatest football managers of all-time lists. These are devilishly hard to produce as everyone has their own opinion on who is the greatest coach ever to sit in a dugout.

Each of the 10 men on our list was famous for the characteristics needed to succeed in coaching. From flexibility to organisation, to man-management, to being able to think outside the box, those attributes enabled each of them to leave a lasting legacy on football and help create the sport that we know and love today.

10) Rinus Michels

A four-time Eredivisie winner, three-time KNVB Cup winner and one time European Cup winner with Ajax. A La Liga and Copa Del Rey winner with Barcelona. A DFB Pokal winner with FC Cologne. A European Championship winner with the Netherlands.

And yet is it the team he managed who never won a trophy with whom Rinus Michels most influenced football – via Total Football.

That was the term lavished upon the playing style of his Netherlands side of the 1970s, considered by many to be the greatest never to win a World Cup. 

They came close, losing the final in 1974 to West Germany. It was the team in Oranje who lit up that tournament, delivering some of the most magical football the world has ever seen, led by Johan Cruyff as the on-field conductor.

Cruyff the manager will feature later on our list (no spoilers) as will several other managers who can trace their style and philosophy back to Michels and Total Football. That is some legacy.

9) Jose Mourinho

Heaven helps us if The Special One ever reads this list and sees himself only in ninth place. The ultimate Marmite manager, you either love Jose Mourinho or you hate him. There does not seem to be any middle ground.

In an era of possession football, attacking fullbacks and goals galore where money was often seen as the most important ingredient for success, Mourinho showed us another way when bursting onto the scene with Porto in 2003.

He led the unfashionable Portuguese outfit to a remarkable Champions League win in 2004. Inter Milan were perennial dark horses in Italy before Mourinho arrived. During his time at the San Siro, he won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and his second Champions League trophy.

Mourinho’s success with Porto and Inter came because of a masterclass in man-management. His sides were drilled in how to win games and they highlighted how far organisation can take you. 

He did not need bundles of cash to succeed, although that helped him as league titles with Chelsea and Real Madrid proved.

Given what has happened at Manchester United since his sacking from Old Trafford, you could even argue that he did an excellent job at Old Trafford – a statement perhaps as controversial as the man himself.

8) Bill Shankly

Music and football dominated Liverpool in the 1960s. Whilst the Beatles were busy conquering the world, Bill Shankly was setting in place a dynasty that would last for 30 years and turn Liverpool into one of the most famous teams on the planet.

When Shankly arrived at Anfield in 1959, he found a rundown stadium and a club wallowing in the second tier of English football. He delivered the promotion back to the top flight in 1962 and his first league title as Liverpool boss in 1964.

Two more championships would follow alongside a UEFA Cup and two FA Cups, the second of which arrived in 1974 and was followed a few weeks later by Shankly’s shock retirement.

The silverware and taking Liverpool to the top of English football were only part of Shankly’s legacy, however. He believed in a strong connection between players and fans. 

He talked about the Kop having the power to “suck the ball into the net”. Shankly was a manager who tapped into the power of football beyond what happened on the pitch in a way nobody else really had.

That feeling of family was central to the concept of the Anfield Bootroom. Shankly was succeeded by his assistant Bob Paisley, who was succeeded by his assistant Joe Fagan, who was succeeded by his player Kenny Dalglish.

Shankly championed continuity and left the foundations in place for each of his successors to continue winning domestic and European trophies for Liverpool.

7) Matt Busby

Adversity is something that all coaches must face and overcome at some point in their careers. It is that ability to stand up and find a way through when all hope seems lost that turns a good football manager into a great football manager.

No manager in history had to battle adversity like Sir Matt Busby. He was already well on his way to immortality at Manchester United before the events of February 6th 1958, having led United to the FA Cup in 1948 and league titles in 1952, 1956 and 1957.

The latter two championships were won by his Busby Babes, a marvellously talented squad of fearless young players with an average age of only 22.

That squad would have won so much more too had eight of them not been killed in the Munich Air Disaster. Busby himself was badly injured. He then faced the challenge not only of rebuilding United but of helping to mend the broken hearts of everyone connected with the club.

Seven years after Munich and Busby miraculously won another title for United. Two seasons later and it happened again. 

Then in 1968 came his crowning glory as the Red Devils became the first English side to be crowned European Champions. A remarkable rise and recovery from the depths of despair.

6) Viktor Maslov

It is a travesty that so few people have heard of Viktor Maslov. In some quarters, the Russian is viewed as the inventor of the football we know today, having pioneered both the 4-4-2 formation and the tactic of pressing that are still staples of the sport 70 years later.

Up until the late 1950s, the formation played by virtually every major club in the world was 4-2-4. Teams would allow their opponents plenty of time on the ball, preferring to seize on loose passes as possession came towards the four front players rather than force errors.

Maslov changed all that. He figured that two extra bodies overloading the midfield would allow his side to dominate. Combine that with his players denying the opposition time and space through pressing, and his teams could win possession more frequently.

To play a high energy game, Maslov also had to focus on speed and fitness. That meant experimenting with nutrition to increase his players’ stamina. In the 1950s, all of this was completely alien.

Maslov ended up winning four Soviet league titles and six cups with Torpedo Moscow, Dynamo Kyiv and FC Ararat Yerevan. His methods soon seeped beyond the Soviet Union, leaving an everlasting imprint on football. 

5) Arsene Wenger

Before an unknown French bloke called Arsene Wenger rocked up as Arsenal boss in 1996, player nutrition consisted of 10 pints of Guinness.

Scouting went as far as driving 50 miles up the road to watch a game before turning around at the halftime. Tactics did not matter, as long as you played with passion and shouted a lot.

Okay, those are pretty sweeping generalisations – even if Wenger did famously ban ketchup from the Gunners’ training ground as one of his first acts in charge.

But the impact that he had on English football was massive. Wenger’s focus on diet, training methods and his desire to scout rough diamonds from across the world were unheard of – to the point that Arsenal’s players wondered if their club had appointed some sort of madman.

Arsenal hadn’t. In his first eight years in English football, Wenger won two doubles and led the Gunners to the 2003-04 title unbeaten, only the second-ever team to be crowned champions of England without losing a match after Preston North End in 1888-89.

His methods – once-seen as bizarre and farfetched – were quickly adopted by every club in the country. Wenger rose the standards and quality of English football across the board, helping the Premier League establish itself as the best league in the world. 

4) Pep Guardiola

Whenever Pep Guardiola features on one of these lists of the most influential football coaches of all time, the usual reasons are wheeled out as to why he is not worthy of a place amongst the greats.

Guardiola’s critics say anyone could have had success at Barcelona working with Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andreas Iniesta and the rest. 

Winning trophies at Bayern Munich is nothing special as German football is a one-horse race. And City’s dominance can be put down to being backed by the wealth of an oil-rich nation.

And whilst all those arguments are valid, you only have to look at the way football has changed since 2006 and Guardiola bursting onto the scene to see his influence. 

Tiki-taka became the style of play every side in the world adopted. It fed into Spain dominating international football between 2008 and 2012 in a way few national sides ever have.

That led to almost every national football association trying to copy the Spanish way. The FA’s own England DNA project – which has started producing Three Lions players good enough to reach finals at major tournaments – was based on what had made Spain a success. 

Spain’s success was based on what Guardiola did at Barca. His impact on English football, therefore, began long before City’s money lured him to the Etihad Stadium. His impact on world football stretches far beyond trophies with Barca, Bayern and City.

Guardiola’s greatest achievement might still be yet to come. He once said that his dream was to name a team consisting of 10 midfielders and a goalkeeper. 

No side in football history has ever won trophies consistently without a striker. If Guardiola can win the Premier League or a first Champions League using a false nine, then striker-less teams could be the next revolution in the sport. Now that is influence.

3) Arrigo Sacchi

Arrigo Sachi stands as a beacon of inspiration to coaches everywhere, his story proves that anyone with the right work ethic and ideas can go on to become of the most influential and famous football managers in the world.

Sacchi started as a humble Italian shoe salesman, something which led to questions over his credibility when he was appointed as AC Milan manager in 1987. 

Always ready with a fantastic soundbite, Sacchi responded to those who wondered whether a man who had not played professional football before was qualified to take charge of an Italian giant by saying: “I never realised that to become a jockey you have to have been a horse first.”

Of course, Sacchi needed to back up his words with success on the pitch. He did that by rewriting the rules of how football was played in Italy. 

Adopting a back four rather than a back three appalled traditionalists. In came zonal marking, a high defensive line and an aggressive press which went on to influence both Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

Sacchi won the Scudetto in 1988 and followed that up with back-to-back European Cups. The Milan side of that era is remembered these days for their defence – little wonder when Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini were part of a backline that conceded only 15 goals in the title-winning season.

Yet they were devastating in attack too, none more so than in the semi-final on route to their first European Cup success when hammering Real Madrid 6-1 on aggregate.

Sacchi changed the way Italians viewed football and set the foundations in place for Serie A to become the leading league in the world in the early 90s.

2) Johan Cruyff

21st century Barcelona is known as one of the most successful teams in world football, famed for tika taka and churning out world-class players from their famous La Masia academy at a rate of knots. It has not always been this way, however. Before 1988, Barca had won only 36 trophies in 89 years and had never been crowned European Champions. That all changed when Johan Cruyff returned to Camp Nou.

A popular figure during his playing days with Barcelona, Cruyff would go on to write his name even deeper into the history books during his eight years as manager. 

Having been the star turn in the Netherland’s Total Football side of the 1970s, it was no surprise to see him adopt the same principles once sat in the Barcelona dugout as part of a complete overhaul of the club.

It was Cruyff who introduced Barcelona’s style of play, indoctrinating every youngster at La Masia in his ways. The focus was on technical ability rather than physicality, something which now underpins every single football academy – but at the time was considered a questionable approach.

The result? Since 1988, Barca has won five Champions League titles and 47 other pieces of silverware. Players like Messi, Xavi and Iniesta have been unleashed on the world from La Masia and coaching disciples such as Guardiola continues Cruyff’s work to this day.


1) Sir Alex Ferguson

No manager in world football has delivered success over such a prolonged period as Sir Alex Ferguson. In the 1980s, he broke the Old Firm’s monopoly in Scotland by leading Aberdeen to three league championships and a European Cup Winner’s Cup success which involved eliminating Bayern Munich and Real Madrid along the way.

A move south of the border to Manchester United followed in 1986. Over the next 26 years, Ferguson would win 38 trophies including 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues.

The secret to Ferguson’s success? Flexibility and a willingness to reinvent himself. His first Premier League title was won thanks to the Class of 92. 

Six years later and the treble Winners of 1999 were a different kind of United. Skip another nine years and Ferguson had changed approach again as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez formed a deadly front three.

The best coaches are those who know that football does not standstill. They are constantly learning, adapting and comfortable in changing their approach. 

Such flexibility kept Ferguson at the top for three decades. No other manager in the world has a CV quite like it.

Think you have what it takes to follow in the footsteps of these 10 influential football coaches? Then find out more about starting your coaching journey with We Make Footballers.




Which Is the Best Country in the World to Play Football In?

Which Is the Best Country in the World to Play Football In?

As the most popular sport in the world, football unites people across countries, languages and cultures. And there is no shortage of countries producing players and teams at the very top of the game. But, if there were a league table of the best countries in the world to be a football player (or, indeed, coach!), which country would come out on top?

We decided to find out.

We’re not just talking about actual match performance here, although that’s obviously important! We know which countries tend to do well at the big tournaments. We’re talking about funding, climate, history and more. All of these things come into creating the right environment for football to thrive. 

Using data from a range of sources, including FIFA and the World Happiness Index, we looked at the following metrics:

  • Climate (sunshine hours per year)
  • FIFA ranking (men’s and women’s)
  • Stadium capacity
  • Number and age of clubs
  • Top-flight revenue
  • Salary
  • World Happiness Index score
  • Cost of living

We assigned each a value out of 10 and then compiled the results into our league tables. 

And the Winner Is…

It should come as no surprise to us that, taking all the above criteria into account, the winner is… England! 

Despite not having the best performance at the international level, or indeed the best climate (shocking, we know), England’s unsurpassed footballing heritage and culture, the capacity of its stadiums and the revenue of its top flight clubs all helped push it to the top of the table. With both the highest stadium capacity, and the highest number of domestic clubs, as well as being the home of the world’s oldest football club, England really is at the top of the beautiful game.

Germany comes in a close second, followed by Spain, France and Brazil. Here’s the top 10:

Image showing a league table ranking footballing countries by FIFA ranking, culture & heritage, climate & lifestyle. England is at the top.

Interesting Takeaways

When it comes to actual footballing performance (using FIFA’s ranking), our top 2 actually fall down the list. That said, Germany’s women’s ranking is excellent. The top-ranked countries here are Brazil (men’s) and USA (women’s). 

Topping our climate and lifestyle league table was Australia. With its hours and hours of sunshine and laid-back lifestyle, it’s perhaps not surprising. Denmark’s happiness index score and high average salary puts it at number 2, while Germany comes in at 3. 

Image showing a league table ranking footballing countries by climate & lifestyle. Australia is at the top.

England isn’t even in the top 10, however, this just goes to show that we don’t let a little thing like the great British weather stand in our way to footballing glory! 

Brazil is the richest footballing country, coming top for revenue, with England and Germany not far behind, while in terms of footballing history, England is miles ahead. With nine out of ten of the first football clubs in the world having been founded in England (Sheffield FC is the oldest, founded around 1857 for those wondering), it’s hardly surprising. The oldest non-British club is Kjøbenhavns Boldklubb, from Denmark, founded in 1876.

England also has the highest number of domestic clubs (a whopping 942), followed by France with 636, Germany with 366, Spain with 265 and Italy with 177. 

Image showing a league table ranking countries by footballing culture and heritage. England is at the top.

England vs Germany… Again

Paying homage to the decades-old footballing rivalry between England and Germany, we also took a tongue-in-cheek look at the top two, putting them head to head once again in a battle of the footballing greats. As you can see, it’s a close run thing, but, as in the Euros semi finals, England wins out. For once, this one didn’t have to go to penalties…

Visual showing comparison between England and Germany as footballing countries, in a vintage poster-style


FIFA Men’s ranking

FIFA Women’s ranking

World Happiness Index

Cost of living

Sunshine hours

Oldest football clubs

Number of clubs

Salary info by country

What makes a good football coaching session?

Every football coach knows that the key to a good coaching session is planning and organisation. Most of the work that goes into a successful hour of training is done in the days leading up to it. The best coaches will have already completed the session on paper and in their heads before they even set foot on the pitch.

But how do you go about planning a good football coaching session? When you sit down to begin putting practice together, ask yourself the five w’s – What, Who, Where, When and Why – and you will not go far wrong.


The starting point for planning a good football coaching session is what the coach wants their players to achieve during their time with them.

Football coaching is ultimately all about improvements, so then what should always be based on areas that a coach has identified in which their players can be improved, either on an individual level or as a team.

Deciding the focus of the training session comes from observations and analysis of recent practices or games. A coach may have noticed that when their team wins back possession, they are often a little too slow when counter-attacking to take advantage.

Improving their abilities on the counter will therefore increase the chances of scoring goals and winning games. The coach subsequently dedicates that week’s training session to quick, incisive football designed to make their players more capable of exploiting counter-attacking opportunities.

On an individual level, the coach will identify weaknesses in their players’ games and look to work on them. Shooting with a weaker foot, long-range passing or standing up an opponent are all examples of areas in which a coach may feel an individual player can improve.

This then filters into tailored one-on-one practice drills for players. We Make Footballers believe that training individuals in a one-on-one environment accelerate their rate of improvement by focussing more on the needs of each child. 

That all stems from the what, making it one of the most important of the five w’s which make up a good football coaching session.


Once the coach has identified what they want to achieve from their training session, the next area to consider is who is central to this? As they will need to be given relevant roles in drills and practices.

To use the example of improving a team’s counter-attacking abilities again, this is what makes a good football coaching session when the coach would identify that the players who win back possession are vital in terms of starting the counter. 

The success of a break-in football comes from how quickly a team can get the ball into a dangerous position to punish opponents before they can reorganise and recover defensively.

In a coaching session designed to improve a team’s counter-attacking ability, ball winners would be coached to get their heads up as soon as possible to pick a forward pass. 

This may require the ability to play 20 or 30-yard passes that slice through opponents; a skill that the coach may ask their players to work on individually.

At the other end of the move, the centre forwards who are charged with putting the ball in the back of the net need to have specific finishing abilities.

The breakneck speed that a counterattack needs to succeed often means that the final action is a one-touch finish. Strikers who practice first time finishing will be more likely to put away the opportunity created by a counter.

After identifying the key players in what the coaching session is aiming to achieve, the coach can then work out how to fit the rest of the team around it. 

Midfield players or wingers too can benefit from being coached about counter-attacking football as it will require them to improve their speed of thought and their ability to play accurate passes quickly. 

Defenders can learn from attempting to stop the counter from being successful, better preparing them for when they face the tactic themselves in a match situation.

Every session put on by We Make Footballers aims to improve every child there. The who identifies exactly which skill or area an individual will focus on, enabling goals to be set for them accordingly.


Once the aim of the coaching session has been established and the roles of each player in it, the coach should ask themselves where on the pitch is the drill taking place and how can the location be used to improve performance? This then informs the layout of the practice.

Take playing out from the back for example. The coach may have identified that his team are not entirely comfortable passing the ball around the backline. 

To improve this, they can take their defensive players and put them into a drill whereby they are tasked with keeping possession between them, whilst being pressed by attackers.

There are then two elements to the wherein this coaching session. The first is where would such an action take place in a game? The answer to that is the defensive third, so the coach runs the drill there whilst explaining how players can use visual signposts like the frame of the goal and the penalty box to judge how much space they have and assess their options.

The second element is by implementing a where that is more difficult than the players would face in a game situation. Once more comfortable playing across the back in the defensive third, the coach can squeeze up the space and ask his players to keep possession inside their box.

Suddenly, the drill becomes more challenging and requires a higher level of skill. Once mastered through coaching and practice, the players will find it even easier playing out from the back in their defensive third a match situation.

The use of space and specific areas of the pitch helps build player technique and knowledge. The where reflects that, allowing the coach to improve individual ability and awareness.


When in a match situation does the coaching session topic tend to occur? Different phases of the game are played out under different conditions and attempting to replicate those in training is important if drills are to be realistic and have an impact in-game situations.

More counter-attacking tends to be done towards the end of games as they become more open. Players might be fine breaking at pace, playing quick and accurate passes when they are fresh at the start of a session.

That though is not reminiscent of the tiredness and fatigue they would feel towards the end of a match. The coach would therefore want them practising under similar conditions, learning how to cope with playing effective counter-attacking football when energy reserves may be depleted.

Timing can also be used to impart a style of play on a team or show players the importance of a particular tactic.

To most, Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpress style which has brought so much success to Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund is characterised by relentless pressing. There is more to it than that though.

One of the most important elements is the way Klopp sides hunt for a second goal immediately after scoring a first. A lot of teams will score and then take their foot off the pedal for a period, either to bask in their glory or focus on “Let’s keep it tight now”, as one of the more frequent Sunday League shouts goes.

Klopp instead wants his side to kill the game off straight away. The intensity rises after the first goal as his players go looking to instantly add to their total, further demoralising opponents who are already reeling from having just conceded.

This style of football can be replicated in training. The coach could run an attack versus defence drill whereby the attack has five minutes to score as many goals as possible. 

Five minutes of relentless work to help drill into players that intensity and determination can take a match away from an opponent, even in such a small period. Focussing on the when can be the difference between winning and not winning.


Finally, the coach should ask themselves why are they doing all this? Whilst it is important for the coach to understand the purpose behind the session, it is even more so that it is communicated to the players.

When a coach explains before a session the areas to be worked on and the purpose of it, players understand what is expected of them. They know why they are working towards a set of objectives and they can analyse their roles and share in the process of improvement.

We Make Footballers view the why as a particularly important component of the coaching process. The best way to fulfilling their commitment to improving every child is by equipping each child with the knowledge of what it is they need to work on and how they can do so.

Players are ultimately responsible for what happens when they step onto the pitch. The coach’s responsibility is to best prepare their players for every eventuality, giving them the tools they need towards having the best possible chance of success.

That starts with a good coaching session. Follow the five w’s in the planning process and you will already be onto a winner.

To find out more about coaching with We Make Footballers and improving the footballing abilities and lives of children in your local area, please see the We Make Footballers franchise website.

The role of a football coach

The role of a football coach is about much more than just football coaching. From session planning to analysis to giving feedback, it is a multi-faceted role with many responsibilities.
Being a We Make Football franchisee adds even more variety to the job. You become your own independent business owner, an entrepreneur changing the lives of children in the local community by off2ering them the chance to learn and grow as footballers and people.
In this article, we are going to look at the different aspects of being a football coach, what each role entails and the responsibilities that come with it.

The football coach

The most important role a football coach has is, well, being a football coach. The preparation starts before the players arrive for training with session planning to ensure that no minute of contact time is wasted.

No two sessions are ever the same, especially when it comes to plotting one-on-one training schedules for players. 

One-on-one training is the best way to improve and develop the skills of an individual as it allows them to work on areas of weakness identified by the coach. 

At the end of every session, a coach then offers feedback to the player on what went well, what did not go well and further guidance on how to improve.

Often, this is the most rewarding aspect of the job. When a training plan devised to improve a player’s ability with their weaker foot, their first touch or their timing of a run comes to fruition, it means the coach has fulfilled their primary responsibility – making a player better.

Every We Make Footballers coach is FA qualified and undergoes further in-house training with specialist WMF qualifications, offering the highest possible level of teaching for coaches to maximise both their own and their players’ potential.

The football analyst

To improve players on an individual level, the best football coaches are excellent analysts. They have a keen eye for detail and will watch each player closely, identifying areas in which an individual can improve. This then feeds into those individual training plans just mentioned. 

The analysis is not just important on a one-to-one level, either. When it comes to managing a team, spotting strengths and weaknesses in the opposition and being able to nullify or take advantage of them can dramatically improve the chances of victory. This brings us nicely onto..

The football manager

Team selection. Position of players. Tactics. All of those come under the role of the football manager, who is ultimately responsible for results. 

Whilst a We Make Footballers franchise may not have to worry too much about these areas at weekly training sessions, they are still developing players to go into teams at the grassroots or professional academy level.

Those players will have a better chance of success if they understand what a manager wants of them. Training is the first opportunity to impart the responsibilities of different roles on the pitch, what different tactical plans entail and to help players understand that everyone on the team has a part to play – even those not in the starting line-up.

The business owner

We Make Footballers franchisees are not just football coaches. They are entrepreneurs too, operating a sustainable business that provides a service to the local community in a growing market where there is always room for expansion.

After three years, a smaller WMF franchisee with over 240 students can turnover up to £96,000. A larger franchisee with more than 400 students has an expected yearly turnover of £149,000.

And what if the business is not a potential franchisee’s strong point? Well, that does not matter either. We Make Footballers provide a dedicated account manager. 

A franchisee gets all the help and advice they need in setting up and operating a business, learning how to become an entrepreneur who is in control of their own lives in the process.

The community leader

Football coaches are community leaders, providing an important service to the local area. And the role of football as a force for good has never been more important.

Lockdowns have deprived children of the chance to stay physically and socially active. Mental health problems in children increased from 10.8 per cent in 2017 to 16 per cent in 2020 according to England’s Mental Health of Children and Young People survey.

Budgets have been stretched by the pandemic, meaning that physical education in schools is not a priority. The local government is struggling to find the cash to provide services and maintain facilities.

Amongst all of this, We Make Footballers academies provide a safe space for playing football, exercising and meeting like-minded children. The benefits to physical and mental health are huge.

Franchisees become community leaders, offering an essential service and one which can genuinely change the lives of young people in their local area.

The inspiring mentor

How often do you hear about football coaches being inspiring mentors for young players? No one who watched Ian Wright’s Home Truths documentary could fail to be moved by the way the former England international striker spoke about his primary school football teacher, Sydney Pigden.

Mr Pigden was the man who helped Wright get into football. Without his coaching and mentorship, Wright would never have gone on to make it as a professional. He would never have become Arsenal’s record scorer. And he would never have represented his country.

That is the power and the role that a football coach has. They can change lives through sport. They provide the opportunity for children to do something they love once a week and who knows where that can lead? In Wright’s case, it was to pull on the Three Lions at Wembley.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a We Make Footballers franchise, inspiring the next generation of English football talent and making a real difference to your local community, then please see the WMF franchisee website for more details.