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Did you hear the one about Novak Djokovic…?


There’s a well-known story in tennis circles in regards to the response of Novak Djokovic to watching Rafael Nadal in opposition to Roger Federer within the 2008 Wimbledon Remaining.

Broadly acknowledged as the best tennis match of all time, Djokovic who had gained only one Grand Slam title at that stage of his profession, watched that match and realised simply how far he nonetheless needed to go to achieve the extent of the perfect.

On the time, Novak Djokovic was a basic counter puncher. Able to absorbing stress and conserving the ball in play till his opponent missed a shot.

Towards virtually each different participant in tennis that technique was extremely efficient for Djokovic, permitting him to climb the world rankings and win among the sport’s greatest tournaments.

Nevertheless, in opposition to the very best two gamers on this planet it wasn’t sufficient. Djokovic may beat them at instances over three units, or if their degree barely dipped. Nevertheless, if Federer or Nadal had been enjoying at their greatest at a Grand Slam. they had been virtually unbeatable and Novak Djokovic recognised that.

Watching them slug it out on within the fading gentle, the Serbian realised that he must get on the entrance foot. That he must take the match to them if he was ever to have the ability to beat them regularly.

And that’s what he did. He saved all his nice defensive qualities however he began attacking. Taking the initiative. Not ready for an opponent to make a mistake however forcing them to make one.

Now 24 profitable Grand Slams later and practically 400 weeks at World Quantity One, the remainder is historical past.

I used to be reminded of this story watching Newcastle United go toe to toe with Manchester Metropolis final week.

I do know there are extenuating circumstances. We’re crippled by accidents and had no choices off the bench to essentially change the sport.

Nevertheless, for the primary time I felt the outcome was as a lot a mirrored image of how we approached the sport, as to the choices obtainable to us.

Aside from the 5 minutes after we managed to attain two good targets, we had been utterly out of the sport. Man Metropolis had been in whole management. We couldn’t lay a glove on them. We had been a younger Novak Djokovic simply struggling to get the ball again over the web.

As soon as the footballing equal of Roger Federer’s forehand got here on the pitch within the type of Kevin De Bruyne, the top outcome appeared inevitable.

This isn’t meant as a criticism of anybody. We have now made huge progress within the final couple of years and everybody on the membership deserves nice credit score for what has been achieved in such a brief house of time.

Nevertheless, if we’re going to kick on to the following degree, then it’s turning into more and more clear that we might want to develop a more practical type of play and determine new methods of injuring groups after we are in possession of the ball.

Presently, a lot of our enjoying identification is centred on our depth and profitable the ball again. Nevertheless, for some time (and this pre-dates our present unhealthy run of type) we’ve regarded a bit toothless when in possession, with an enormous emphasis on getting the ball extensive to Kieran Trippier, or counting on a second of magic from one among our attacking gamers to create one thing out of nothing.

With a clearer fixture schedule this could permit Eddie Howe, Jason Tindall and the remainder of his teaching employees, time on the coaching pitch to work on this and implement the extra outlined enjoying type that might be wanted if we’re to proceed to make progress.

If we are able to do this it shouldn’t be too lengthy earlier than we are able to take that subsequent step and actually problem on the high of English and European soccer.


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