"I know everybody loves to watch players scoring goals but I equally enjoy stopping them. For me, to make a good block or to keep a clean sheet is as good as scoring a goal."

– Rio Ferdinand

10/10/2011 14:20
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Rio: I love to defend

hard to defend against. I think if I was a coach then I’d put that goal on DVD and I wouldn’t even send my team out to train – I’d just make them watch that goal because that tells you all you need to know. I’d tell them to sit down and watch because this is what you need to do when the ball goes out to wide areas. It was absolutely brilliant.

How difficult is it to defend against good movement?
You can defend against it if you’re on top of your game and concentrating at a high level but it definitely makes your life much harder as a defender. If a striker makes a forward movement and you see it, you’re automatically going to take a step in the same direction to combat that. But if he checks back again and you lose him for a split second, he can get the time and space he needs to punish you. If forwards run in straight lines and don’t try to pull defenders all around the penalty area, then you start to get a feel for where they’re going to be when the ball goes out wide to the wingers. That makes it easy for you to defend against them. But if the striker’s always moving and you’re not sure where he’s going to move next – if he keeps you guessing – then it’s so much more difficult. We’ve got players here now who do that – players like Chicharito and Wayne Rooney, who’s bringing a lot more of that into his game now. And Louis Saha used to be a master at it.

Do you think defenders who come up against Chicharito are worried about him?
Yeah, for sure, because not a lot of strikers make the sorts of runs he does. It’s physically demanding – you have to be really fit to make those movements for 90 minutes. If I was a coach I’d be telling every young striker that he should take note of how Chicharito plays because that’s what you have to do if you want to be a top player. It will certainly give you a head start.

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