Defensive resilience a team thing

It may have been a case of another game without a clean sheet but Coach Josep Gombau is not about to throw his defensive structures out the window.

It may have been a case of another game without a clean sheet but Coach Josep Gombau is not about to throw his defensive structures out the window.

Similar to any coaches that watch their team frequently concede, Gombau is unhappy the Reds have leaked goals in each of their games so far this season. But rather than panic and overhaul everything he has gone about implementing, the 37 year old Spaniard is not wavering from the process he is trying to instil into the players.

For Gombau, the Reds- defensive issues are not due to any incompetence of the back four or the Reds- defensive line, but are rather about all ten field players instinctively knowing and executing the defensive actions to prevent opposition teams from exposing holes on the counter attack.

“If we-re pressing up well, which is what we need to do, these defensive frailties don-t come about,” Gombau said.

“It-s easy to say the defenders are not defending well but I think it-s all of the team. When we lose the ball everybody needs to defend, when we have the ball everybody needs to attack.”

“It-s unfair to say the high defensive line is doing this or not doing that. Of course when a team concedes a lot of goals like us, the people think it-s the defensive line but for me it-s all of the team…if we stop the ball before, then this doesn-t happen.”

Put simply, the high pressing game Gombau wants to use has the aptitude to be defensively sound. But for it to work to its full effect, it has to be something that becomes instinctive and second nature - something the players are still to fully grasp and something that is the responsibility of the coaching staff as a collective to implement.

“When we play the way that we want, it won-t be like this,” Gombau said after watching his team be exposed a number of times on the counter against Melbourne Heart.

“It-s a style where you need to keep the ball. We had a lot of the ball yesterday but gave it up a bit too easily sometimes. When you keep the ball the other team has less chance to counter attack.”

“If we lose the ball and we press and don-t give them time to put in these long balls, they cannot make the counter attack.”

“Everyone is focused on the defence but we know what we want to do.

“It is unfair to say it is just the defenders and the defensive line. For me the defenders were doing well - they are playing, they are trying, but it-s not easy. It-s about team work.”

“It-s a process. Sometimes when we go to press we go late or we forget. This is something that we need to build into the mentality of the players.”

“At the moment they need to think when they do this and when they need to think what they have to do sometimes they make mistakes.”

“It-s something that if they keep doing over and over it becomes your style.”

On the other side of the coin, while not trying to gloss over the improvements that need to be made in the defensive aspect of their game, Sunday-s 3-3 draw with the Heart was the first time in their past 24 away games the Reds have scored three goals away from home since they put three past the Heart at the same venue back in January 2012.

Despite the results not being what he would have hoped for, the fact that there has been intent to play and manufacture scoring opportunities regardless of whether it has been at home or away is something Gombau can take credit for.

The progress of Gombau-s team defence philosophy is set to face another big test when the Reds meet the league-s most potent force this season, Brisbane Roar, on Friday night.