Analysis Great Paul Roos article on club culture and playing style: AFC to note!

DroppingTheBall

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The Monday 28 October 2019 edition of The Australian has an article by Paul Roos.

Ostensibly, it is about the Wallabies rugby crisis, so Roos starts off talking about Coach-CEO relationships. But IMHO it is super-interesting and relevant to the AFC and Crows fans, because he quickly moves into generic terms and naturally draws on his Australian Rules background, to offer a number of crucial realities about club administrations and successful on-field teams.

The online edition of the article is behind a commercial paywall, and I respect copyright laws and principles, so I won't copy the entire article here (and also ask readers to do the same), but will summarize it and raise individual points from the article for discussion.

"I’ve been where the new Wallabies coach is about to go. Square one."

I think Matthew Nicks is going there too. The administration and the list are both decimated (especially the former), and the mindsets of both groups are nowhere near the mark. I thought it was interesting, in Nicks' first media appearance as coach, that he spoke about a process that takes time. Like, years. No illusions along the line of getting the right people in the right places and then suddenly it's "all good now, so you can revert to the team-first mindsets of old, starting today".

Roos says that what happens next, from square one, is a rebuilding of the whole club. What are his tips on how it can be done?

"First, there has to be unequivocal support for the coach from the chief executive."

This is not about the "media-facing solidarity". Roos says you can't hide disharmony at that level from club insiders, and everyone is affected, and it's a recipe for disaster.

So, just as well Fagan was right at the centre of the selection process. And I sure hope he is 100% satisfied that they not only picked the best available person, but the right person, and that he has no regrets that some other person wasn't available, for instance. Roos says that coaches need confidence as much as the players.

"Like-mindedness. Everyone was aligned on who we wanted to be, how we were going to act, everyone knew their roles. There’s absolute clarity in successful organisations. There can’t be infighting or factions."

This is culture. And trust. It is not promoting lack of diversity in thought or personality, but it is agreement and clarity on what behaviours are expected and what behaviours are toxic. The difference between "adult conversations" that sort out differences, and harbouring resentments and grudges that leads to factions.

"Second, I believe the coach has to be given all the responsibility and authority. You can’t have a high-performance manager coming in on top of the coach."

So, a high performance manager reporting to the coach is OK, but not one who takes anything out of the coach's hands. This comment by Roos shows how contentious it can be when clubs think a novice coach needs a guiding hand from some sort of 'director of coaching'. Watch out!

"Third, teams that win sports championships throughout the world are the best defensively."

I want to comment on this personally. I wish it weren't so, but I believe Roos is right. I am a big fan of sport that entertains. But when I watch the biggest stages for team sports, like world cups in soccer or rugby, I keep noticing it: the winning percentages swing strongly in favour of the teams that have the best defences. I find it frustrating, but I do notice it. I found it frustrating and depressing on the last day of September 2017. But it is not about one day, it is about observing a global, inter-sport pattern and learning from it.

Nicks' plan to build a stingy defence and create turnovers is consistent with Richmond's, and with most winners in other team sports. In fact, the South African rugby team's game plan is to give you the ball deep in your defence and under huge pressure, and bank on their ability to create turnovers.

Fortunately for viewers, Roos goes on to explain that entertainment and attack are still brought into the game, but as an overlay on a solid defensive bedrock.

"At an elite level, your players already have attacking skill. You have to drum the hard-nosed, unglamorous sides of the game into them. You want to frustrate the opposition. Build a defence that no other team finds easy to break....be the team everyone hates playing.... get tough around the football."

"Offence is talent, and defence is mentality. Defence is more controllable."


You get the message. If the other team is going to score every time they get the ball, because you can't turn it over, but they are able to turn your ball over, then you lose. Shootouts are for sucker coaches, who are relying on the less teachable, less controllable dimension of the game to fall in their favour.

Build a behaviour-based team, Roos says, and performance rarely drops. He cites Hawthorn. Build a talent-based team, and you will shine like the sun itself and everyone will worship your brilliant wins, but when a top team puts you under top pressure on a big stage.... it can crack.

Nicks, I suspect, thinks like Roos on this point of philosophy. And like winning coaches the world over. And I think he is right. And I think he can bring success to the Crows.

cheers
 
Last edited:

CrowBloke

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Nicks, I suspect, thinks like Roos on this point of philosophy. And like winning coaches the world over. And I think he is right. And I think he can bring success to the Crows.
Very interesting thread :thumbsu: .
Roos has identified a number of things that most experienced pundits would agree with, all the way down to supporters who think about the game, coaching and game plans.
Nicks has talked the talk --- "to build a stingy defence and create turnovers is consistent with Richmond's, and with most winners in other team sports " --- and that's the WHAT of his mission.
The HOW is much harder.
Does Nicks have the cattle, the support you describe and the will/strength to impose himself successfully upon the Club? We have no choice but to wait and see. Pyke was undermined (hamstrung? :rolleyes:) by a long-term, entrenched assistant (Campo) and an ambitious, total failure in Brett Burton who was appointed and promoted by nepotism, not to mention the woeful Hart in charge of the forwards. Player infighting and disunity from 2017 was worsened by that 'Camp'. I thought, I hoped, after the 2017 GF Pyke would shake things up, appoint his own assistants and stamp his own mark on the Club, but no.
Anyway ... knowing what needs to be done is one thing. HOW Nicks is going to do what Roos described is the hard part and remains to be seen.
Your concluding sentences' confidence is what I hope for with Nicks' appointment, what we all hope for, but let's discuss it again in 2 years' time?
 

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DJ75

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Excellent OP and very hard to argue with any of Roos points.

My only concern stems from what we saw of GWS in the GF. It's all well and good to put together a tough defence, but if you refuse to move the ball quickly and to take the opposition on when you have it, then you are really asking for trouble.

Richmond play and excellent team defence, but once they get it, they run and spread exceptionally well. They get the ball forward quickly and keep your defence under pressure and regularly defending one on ones.

In the GF, GWS decided to take a no risk approach to moving the ball forward. They tried to play a slow, methodical, short kicking game style. It was almost exactly what we tried and failed at spectacularly in the second half of the season. As you watched the GF, you could see it wasn't working and Richmond were just waiting for the turn over to kill them on. It was really disappointing to see GWS just refuse to attack the game, especially given their running power and talent level.

I really, really hope we play tough, flooding, aggressive defence, but attack like crazy once we get the ball.
 

Bay62

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Apr 28, 2014
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The Monday 28 October 2019 edition of The Australian has an article by Paul Roos.

Ostensibly, it is about the Wallabies rugby crisis, so Roos starts off talking about Coach-CEO relationships. But IMHO it is super-interesting and relevant to the AFC and Crows fans, because he quickly moves into generic terms and naturally draws on his Australian Rules background, to offer a number of crucial realities about club administrations and successful on-field teams.

The online edition of the article is behind a commercial paywall, and I respect copyright laws and principles, so I won't copy the entire article here (and also ask readers to do the same), but will summarize it and raise individual points from the article for discussion.

"I’ve been where the new Wallabies coach is about to go. Square one."

I think Matthew Nicks is going there too. The administration and the list are both decimated (especially the former), and the mindsets of both groups are nowhere near the mark. I thought it was interesting, in Nicks' first media appearance as coach, that he spoke about a process that takes time. Like, years. No illusions along the line of getting the right people in the right places and then suddenly it's "all good now, so you can revert to the team-first mindsets of old, starting today".

Roos says that what happens next, from square one, is a rebuilding of the whole club. What are his tips on how it can be done?

"First, there has to be unequivocal support for the coach from the chief executive."

This is not about the "media-facing solidarity". Roos says you can't hide disharmony at that level from club insiders, and everyone is affected, and it's a recipe for disaster.

So, just as well Fagan was right at the centre of the selection process. And I sure hope he is 100% satisfied that they not only picked the best available person, but the right person, and that he has no regrets that some other person wasn't available, for instance. Roos says that coaches need confidence as much as the players.

"Like-mindedness. Everyone was aligned on who we wanted to be, how we were going to act, everyone knew their roles. There’s absolute clarity in successful organisations. There can’t be infighting or factions."

This is culture. And trust. It is not promoting lack of diversity in thought or personality, but it is agreement and clarity on what behaviours are expected and what behaviours are toxic. The difference between "adult conversations" that sort out differences, and harbouring resentments and grudges that leads to factions.

"Second, I believe the coach has to be given all the responsibility and authority. You can’t have a high-performance manager coming in on top of the coach."

So, a high performance manager reporting to the coach is OK, but not one who takes anything out of the coach's hands. This comment by Roos shows how contentious it can be when clubs think a novice coach needs a guiding hand from some sort of 'director of coaching'. Watch out!

"Third, teams that win sports championships throughout the world are the best defensively."

I want to comment on this personally. I wish it weren't so, but I believe Roos is right. I am a big fan of sport that entertains. But when I watch the biggest stages for team sports, like world cups in soccer or rugby, I keep noticing it: the winning percentages swing strongly in favour of the teams that have the best defences. I find it frustrating, but I do notice it. I found it frustrating and depressing on the last day of September 2017. But it is not about one day, it is about observing a global, inter-sport pattern and learning from it.

Nicks' plan to build a stingy defence and create turnovers is consistent with Richmond's, and with most winners in other team sports. In fact, the South African rugby team's game plan is to give you the ball deep in your defence and under huge pressure, and bank on their ability to create turnovers.

Fortunately for viewers, Roos goes on to explain that entertainment and attack are still brought into the game, but as an overlay on a solid defensive bedrock.

"At an elite level, your players already have attacking skill. You have to drum the hard-nosed, unglamorous sides of the game into them. You want to frustrate the opposition. Build a defence that no other team finds easy to break....be the team everyone hates playing.... get tough around the football."

"Offence is talent, and defence is mentality. Defence is more controllable."


You get the message. If the other team is going to score every time they get the ball, because you can't turn it over, but they are able to turn your ball over, then you lose. Shootouts are for sucker coaches, who are relying on the less teachable, less controllable dimension of the game to fall in their favour.

Build a behaviour-based team, Roos says, and performance rarely drops. He cites Hawthorn. Build a talent-based team, and you will shine like the sun itself and everyone will worship your brilliant wins, but when a top team puts you under top pressure on a big stage.... it can crack.

Nicks, I suspect, thinks like Roos on this point of philosophy. And like winning coaches the world over. And I think he is right. And I think he can bring success to the Crows.

cheers
Great summary thanks

From what I can tell, this is exactly what Mark Stone did at Glenelg. Result was a flag within two years. The first year was spent drumming that mentality into the players and getting them to honestly own up to the fact when they hadn’t exhibited those behaviors
 

skittlebrew

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Always found it tough to disagree with Roos. Seems to be a straight forward logical thinker, very measured in his approach.
 

Slippery Pete

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"Offence is talent, and defence is mentality. Defence is more controllable."

You get the message. If the other team is going to score every time they get the ball, because you can't turn it over, but they are able to turn your ball over, then you lose. Shootouts are for sucker coaches, who are relying on the less teachable, less controllable dimension of the game to fall in their favour.

What would M Blight have to say about this part?

Good write-up though.
 

GreyCrow

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Excellent OP and very hard to argue with any of Roos points.

My only concern stems from what we saw of GWS in the GF. It's all well and good to put together a tough defence, but if you refuse to move the ball quickly and to take the opposition on when you have it, then you are really asking for trouble.

Richmond play and excellent team defence, but once they get it, they run and spread exceptionally well. They get the ball forward quickly and keep your defence under pressure and regularly defending one on ones.

In the GF, GWS decided to take a no risk approach to moving the ball forward. They tried to play a slow, methodical, short kicking game style. It was almost exactly what we tried and failed at spectacularly in the second half of the season. As you watched the GF, you could see it wasn't working and Richmond were just waiting for the turn over to kill them on. It was really disappointing to see GWS just refuse to attack the game, especially given their running power and talent level.

I really, really hope we play tough, flooding, aggressive defence, but attack like crazy once we get the ball.
I think what we saw in the GF were 2 different teams with 2 different philosophies.

The Richmond style you mentioned and a team built on a good midfield with 2 strong forwards.

I think ( no inside word) that Cameron and Nicks decided restriction was the better tactic ( easier to instruct tempo rather than a complete game plan change) on the day

Its also why we lost in 2017. Our game plan consisted of high scoring and high turnover rates. Yet Richmond beat us by outscoring us on turnovers. We then lost the plot and gave the game up to Richmond.

But I agree GWS needed to change it up in the 2nd half and play to win rather than play not to lose
 

Captain Morgan

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Interesting article. So Sydney and melbourne teams he coached were untalented ?

How does this fit the brisbane lions profile, that was more midfield grunt than anything else, or geelong who brought the ‘play on, attack’ mentatilt that took over from the dour Sydney era of the mid noughties.

If you innovate, or get lucky with player draft selections and build an even team based in culture, you win.

At the end of the day there are many ways to open a gap against the competition, I do agree though that defence is the ‘easiest’ way to do it (least hard, is a better word). But it doesn’t always win premierships. Just ask Fremantle.
 

DroppingTheBall

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What would M Blight have to say about this part?

Good write-up though.
I think there is broad agreement that Blight was "the exception to every rule". I love him, but I don't think his ways are transferrable.

I think what we saw in the GF were 2 different teams with 2 different philosophies.

The Richmond style you mentioned and a team built on a good midfield with 2 strong forwards.

I think ( no inside word) that Cameron and Nicks decided restriction was the better tactic ( easier to instruct tempo rather than a complete game plan change) on the day

Its also why we lost in 2017. Our game plan consisted of high scoring and high turnover rates. Yet Richmond beat us by outscoring us on turnovers. We then lost the plot and gave the game up to Richmond.

But I agree GWS needed to change it up in the 2nd half and play to win rather than play not to lose
I personally agree with W Carey's mid-week analysis after the prelim, that GWS had played their grand final a week early. He said he saw all the signs, and was a bit worried about how the GF would pan out.

What GWS delivered in the GF was exactly like a team that was mentally and physically spent.

Interesting article. So Sydney and melbourne teams he coached were untalented ?
I think Roos is saying that elite level teams are not lacking in talent.

How does this fit the brisbane lions profile, that was more midfield grunt than anything else, or geelong who brought the ‘play on, attack’ mentatilt that took over from the dour Sydney era of the mid noughties.
Games evolve and styles evolve. Rugby, soccer, footy. Roos' principles still apply across styles. I'm not buying the argument that Thompson's Geelong was defensively loose.

If you innovate, or get lucky with player draft selections and build an even team based in culture, you win. At the end of the day there are many ways to open a gap against the competition, I do agree though that defence is the ‘easiest’ way to do it (least hard, is a better word). But it doesn’t always win premierships. Just ask Fremantle.
IMO Roos is not saying that you don't need offence or talent. IMO he is saying that what happens when you don't have the ball is crucial. As he put it, "great defensive teams create pressure and turnovers."

cheers
 

Flip Side

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“Fortunately for viewers, Roos goes on to explain that entertainment and attack are still brought into the game, but as an overlay on a solid defensive bedrock.”

Phew, that’s a total relief. So glad he talked about attack and entertainment. I mean, This is the guy who nearly ruined football for me (and many others). He might talk about entertainment or attack but he didn’t let it pervade his style of coaching.

I rate the theory, but hate his execution. Richmond play chaotic football based on turnovers but it’s not dull like Roos teams.
 

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