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Nearly 300 NorCal Coaches Learn From One of the World’s Best Managers

NorCal Premier Soccer has been among the industry leaders in providing learning opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together a series of top-level coaches and clinicians for a series of webinars that has kept its membership engaged and improving even while regular training hasn’t been possible.

But last weekend’s event may have been the icing on the cake for the 270 in attendance as FC Barcelona manager Quique Setien joined NorCal for two-and-a-half hours Saturday morning for a presentation that discussed his philosophies as a coach.

Setien’s webinar focused on the phases of building out of the back through the defensive third, the middle third, the attacking third and then the defensive and offensive transition periods of the game as well as his defensive phases.

Using clips from a game last year when the then manager of Real Betis faced Barcelona, Setien described in detail how his style of play was influenced by the type of player he was and the top-level managers he took things from such as Johann Cruyff and Luis Aragones.

“As a young boy, I was always creative with the ball and always wanted the ball at my feet. Losing the ball was a huge trauma, which is why I try to teach my players to always keep the ball,” he said. “When my players have the ball at their feet and are running less, this is the best way to enjoy football.”

Very much influenced by the new wave of soccer that emphasises building attacks starting with the goalkeeper, Setien showed how his entire team builds up by going through a series of clips that started with his goalkeeper and gradually moved further up the field.

“In my experience, I’ve asked players who have not been asked to do what I’m asking them to do now…if we’re going to play this style, we’re going to assume risks,” he said. “When coaches say that I didn’t have players capable of playing out of the back, I think that’s a lie. I think that 95 percent of players are capable of such actions, in fact, most players are able to do more than they know.”

“In our defensive third, when we’re building out from the back, the most important thing is to be brave and to manage stress…the players need to understand that the benefit (of building up) is much greater than what we can concede,” he added.

From there, Setien went into the defensive aspects of his philosophy, namely the fact that he wants his players to win the ball back as soon as possible because the best way to defend is by having the ball, before showing examples of transition play.

After two hours of speaking, Setien answered a series of questions ranging from what he learned from Cruyff to how his love of chess has influenced his managerial style.

For those on the webinar, it was another in the long line of opportunities provided by NorCal to help improve the level of the game in this region.

“Quique reinforced the idea that the style of play in futbol is a way of life,” said longtime Northern California-based coach Andres Deza. “The feeling for any given game model is way more relevant than any principles or systems of play.

Added Fremont Youth Soccer Club Director of Coaching Dai Redwood: “With Setien, you are getting insight and first hand knowledge from those who have already taken the journey to get to the top, so you hang off every word to learn from their experiences, it’s very humbling. Setien was firm in his belief of a style of play, and expected players to form to his methods. Education, patience, and empathy are so important in getting others to buy into your methods, and for us that’s the effort we need to be putting into parent education.”