Tactical Tidbits: Rennie provides glimpse into coaching philosophy

Martin Rennie coaching philosophy

Photo credit: Jarrett Campbell

INDIANAPOLIS — Martin Rennie is already a known commodity in American soccer circles. But he’d also been coaching Seoul E-Land FC in the South Korean second division for the past several years, so who knows what tactical philosophy the 2018 version of Rennie subscribes to?

Luckily, the first-year Indy Eleven manager offered a peek Thursday into how his side might line up and play — contingent of course upon how his roster takes shape.

A betting man would say Rennie sounds fondest of a 4-3-3, but the veteran Scottish manager also cited a few other setups he’s comfortable with.

“Over the years, I’ve quite liked the 4-3-3 formation, but I also like the 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1,” Rennie said. “And now, as well, I’ve done some work with the more popular back three-type system. So I’m open-minded on that part. A lot of games that I have coached I’d say have kind of been a 4-3-3 formation.”

As far as style, Rennie said he preaches possession with an emphasis on penetrating, off-the-ball runs to get in behind the defense. He likes his sides to be proactive, not reactive.

“I think in coaching, there are really two types of coaches,” Rennie explained. “One that wants to have the ball and kind of play and attack, and then another that kind of wants to wait for the opposition to make a mistake. So for me, I want to have the ball more and be more proactive and attack more. That’s my philosophy.

“But over the years — I’ve coached in different countries and at different levels — I’ve learned that I’ve also got to be able to do the other thing, which is to be able to defend very well, and be very compact and hard to beat sometimes. So it’s really a team I want to build that can do both of those things well, but when we’re able to do what we want to do, I want to be a team on the ball, moving the ball quickly and making a lot of penetrating movements.”

One MLS insider told Soc Takes that Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps teams tended to play well-organized soccer, but noted his proclivity for “shoehorning as many defensive midfielders into the XI as is possible, with predictable results.” It’s entirely possible that Rennie’s rendition of the 4-3-3 includes two or three CDMs as part of a mini triangle that sits mostly centrally, with the wing forwards taking on a more active role behind the ball.

However Rennie ends up trotting out his starting XI, one thing’s for sure: He currently has more pressing matters to worry about than the pedantic subtleties of a formation. First and foremost, he needs human beings in Indy Eleven kits available for selection. Rennie hopes to have some semblance of a roster together and ready to report to the training grounds by Feb. 7.

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.

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