Jose Gomes has rejuvenated Reading since his arrival, not least due to his brand of passing football. The last few months have seen the Royals go back to a possession-heavy style of play but, unlike in Jaap Stam’s time at the club, there’s a greater urgency in getting the ball forward.
Broadly speaking, that’s a philosophy which is proving to be popular not only in world football, but also in the Championship specifically. The likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham, Norwich and Leeds United have had great deals of success by trying to dictate possession.
It’s an idea that resonates deeply with Gomes, who recently sat down for an exclusive chat with The Tilehurst End Podcast. In it, he goes into depth on just why he gets his teams to play as they do.
“The most important thing is winning. And find the best way to find a goal. I prefer to control the game with the ball because, if your team is able to do it, they can have fast players, strong players, tall players, small players. For us, doesn’t care, doesn’t matter, because we have the ball.
“If you have the ball, and if you build your team in the right way, and your players feel confidence to control the game with the ball, the players the other team have are just important in the set-pieces.
“Because in that moment they cannot do anything, the ball is there and they can kick the corner or wide free-kick or frontal free-kick and you just can be in the right positions to try to stop. But during the game, if you control the game with the ball, they can have very good players but if you have the ball, what can the very good players do?”
“And this is the point. I really believe that this is the best way. Of course we don’t have magic formulas to be champions or to win games - some teams can be champions playing one way, like Chelsea or Leicester, like happened in the Premier League in the past, or like Manchester City - the passing game, controlling the game with the ball possession and controlling the spaces and being very aggressive in the defensive transitions.
“I prefer, if I have this option, I prefer to play this passing game. But it’s not the blind, blind passing game. If you have the space, if you can play in-behind, and with one pass you can put your player one-v-one with the goalkeeper, I don’t see any problem to do it. It’s not just ‘passing game, you cannot put long ball’. No - it’s a mix, the game is not mathematics.”
TTE: And that is trust in your players to decide when the right moment is...
“Exactly! Exactly! During the trainings, the thing is - give the players the tools they must use during the game when they have the problems and when they have the football situations.
“If they have the space that they can use when they recover the ball, and the opponent puts a lot of players in attack and we can see a lot of free space that we can use in the fast attack, or counter-attack - why can’t you use, why can’t you give a long pass or play in-behind? What is the problem, I don’t see any problem.
“But, if they are organised, and they are doing well, we must be patient and try to find the right moment to attack, and just don’t lose the ball for nothing.”
In our full chat with Jose Gomes, he tells all about his footballing career so far, army experience, adjusting to life in Berkshire, Reading’s academy, and a lot more. Listen in the link below.