By Bob Pearce and Mihail Vladimirov.
‘To win or not to lose?’
For a manager, is their first priority to score, or not to concede? In other words, is it more important to them to win or to not lose?
This is hugely dependent on the manager’s preferences and the type of matches. Obviously some managers are more defensive-minded and some are heavily attacking-oriented. Plus depending on the match (Cup tie, second leg, etc), you could set-up your team not to lose or to attack that bit more if you are behind from the first leg.
In theory it should be a balance between the two. If you’re too defensive-minded you could find it hard to have enough bite to create in attack. Alternatively if you’re too naively gung-ho attacking you could leave too many gaps in behind.
You say a manager may take a different tactical approach to a game if it is a cup tie. I understand that if this is a 2 legged tie this may be the case. But why should a straight cup game make any difference in a manager’s approach compared to a league game? Surely they want to win them both?
They want to win both, that’s for sure. But in a straight cup game the risk is higher as you have only 90 mins (plus extra time potentially) to right the wrongs and turn round the match if you are in a losing position. That’s why often the manager chooses different approaches (mainly more defensive minded) in order to add extra stability. What’s the point starting with a gung-ho approach and finding yourself 0-3 down at half time? The game will be truly over in most cases (unless you are Liverpool playing in Istanbul!).
If you have two legs you have the additional match to turn things around if we assume in the first leg you made some mistakes and the result is negative. In the league you have 38 games and as the saying goes ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’. You could completely screw-up five matches but you still have 33 matches left to fix the problems. You can’t do that in a single match in a Cup tie.
You lose one cup game and you are out of the competition for the season. You lose one league game there are other games to regain ground.
That’s why managers are often so cautious and taking different approaches in Cup games.
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