Micciche: 'England will be rocking if talent can flourish'

Monday 04 Aug 2014
Micciche says players will enjoy playing for Three Lions with new expressive style
Dan Micciche says England will be "rocking" in the very near future if our young talent is allowed to flourish over the next decade.

The former MK Dons academy head of coaching took charge of the Young Lions at the Nordic U17 Tournament over the past week, and the performances and feedback from his squad have left him encouraged at the progress being made in "developing a DNA" for England to be a footballing force.

Despite finishing fourth at the tournament, after a late penalty saw them defeated by the hosts Denmark on Saturday, the style Micciche's side developed during the nine days he spent with them has left him in no doubt of the talent which exists in this country.

"Playing this way doesn't guarantee results, but it guarantees players enjoy being with England."

Dan Micciche


"Playing this way doesn't guarantee results all the time, but it does guarantee that the players enjoy being with England and playing this way. They have completely bought into this style and want to play with freedom and be expressive," he told TheFA.com.

"We had to get the training right, and the way we planned the programme to work on the three phases has worked really well. We've gone from playing with freedom [phase 1], to then more tournament-related work [phase 2] and then moving on to more specific tactical work [phase 3].

"You need tactical discipline with that freedom, and if you look at the goals we conceded, only one was from open play. So defensively as well we have done extremely well with that aspect.

"We have some fantastic talent in this country, and we just need to allow it to flourish over the next ten years and we'll be rocking and be in a very good place."

A number of the squad that participated in Scandinavia have openly spoke about their enjoyment of the trip and the development that it brought into their game and Micciche was quick to echo their sentiments.

"I've loved every minute of it," he added. "It's been a fantastic learning experience for me, my staff and players and it was apt that we topped it off with our best performance of the week against Denmark in a game that was fitting for a final.

"Both teams tried to play the right way. As a football contest we came out on top, we had over 60 per cent possession and gave them a lot of tactical problems which their coach was very complimentary about. We just lacked a cutting edge in the final third with our final pass or execution - which has been the story of our week.

Dan Micciche, third from the right, and his staff prior to kick-off against Finland

Dan Micciche, third from the right, and his staff in Denmark


"The only down side was Lucas N'Mecha, who unfortunately picked up a knock that ruled him out of the last match when we were really looking forward to watching him for a full game and giving him the total game time we had promised the whole squad at the start of the event."

Micciche continued: "Denmark were the first team to put on a high press, to which we adapted our shape and went to a back three as soon as it happened, dropping a deep midfielder in to go with a diamond in midfield which allowed us to continue our passing game with better angles and overloading key areas of the pitch.

"It was a great game to end the week on playing against the hosts in front of a big crowd, although we were undone by a harsh decision at the end that cost us - but it's been a good week."

And summing up his thoughts of his time with the Young Lions in Kolding, Micciche added: "The role of the national coach isn’t simply a matter of picking a team, it's managing players and a whole event for 24 hours over nine days.

"It's been challenging but so worthwhile. I've learnt that the three phase process we worked on needs considering for the longer term, and the classroom work we did linked everything together on a daily basis.

"The players have really taken to that - setting and reviewing their own individual objectives as well as group objectives like they do in their clubs under the EPPP.

"Dealing with two games in 18 hours like we had for our first two games, in extreme heat and tactical management of tournament play, was a good learning experience too. Everyone who took part will have benefited hugely."

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer