Listen to any recent football commentary or any discussion by pundits and there appears to be only one topic of conversation: The Press.
What is so fascinating about The Press? Where did The Press even come from? It is like the footballing equivalent of some kind of new diet fad: everyone’s doing it but no one knows whether it works or not.
As a definition: The Press is a tactic intended to pressure an opponent currently in possession of the ball by giving them less time to choose a pass and to ultimately make them give the ball away.
On a scale of Presses––Deep, Midfield and High––it is the High Press, which is shown particular reverence. The High Press is right up there with the Atkins or the 5:2.
So, who invented The Press?
As with most things in modern football, I blame Pep Guardiola. His strategy of Playing Out from the Back, which has been fairly universally adopted by teams far less skilfully adept than most teams that Guardiola manages––the England national team, for example––has resulted in the opposing team being forced to adopt The Press simply to relieve the tedium of watching four defenders playing tippy-tappy football across their own penalty box.
In the past, The Press might have been called Taking the Game to the Opposition; in the past, most defences would have simply Gone Long.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake is a bit old skool when it comes to football strategy.