Friday, 10 April 2009

In The Zone

This is post number 700.

700 moments of reflection on the world of football.

700 steps towards learning about football.

700 lessons to bring me to the point where I consider one of football's most profound questions.

Which is better - the more traditional man marking or, as favoured by Rafa amongst others, zonal marking?

With my usual vim and vigour I have been investigating this vexatious issue.

Apparently one of the main problems with zonal marking is that it relies upon collective responsibility. As The Independent explained in a recent article;

"Once upon a time, there were four Liverpool defenders: Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody. Whenever Branislav Ivanovic needed to be marked Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. When Nobody did it, Everybody, and Pepe Reina, got angry because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but nobody realised that Nobody would do it.So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place. And then, from another corner, it all happened again".

On the other hand, as described by a contributor to a discussion thread I read , man marking appears to require a degree of telepathy and having eyes in the back of your head;

"The man-marking defender has to watch the ball and the attacker as well as his own nearby team-mates (who may contest the same ball) and other attackers who may have lost their own marker (a regular occurrence, leading to the 'free' headers - something that should never happen with the zonal system) and on top of that he has to try to second guess the attacker's run (meanwhile, of course, the attacker is jinking everywhere to put you off the scent)."

So to summarise, if you are going to adopt a man marking system, you need to be able to do this (should be a steal for Sheffield Wednesday players).

And if a zonal marking system, this is more the order of the day.

So now you know.

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