England National Team


Martin Tierney’s professional playing career spanned 15 seasons. From the mid 80’s to 2000 Tierney traveled extensively earning professional contracts in Scotland, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, the USA and Japan as well as 5 extremely successful seasons in Malaysia where he played in the prestigious Asian Cup. Currently he resides in Spain and is President of Soccer Experience (www.soccerexperience.com), a company specializing in preparing tours to southern Spain for top professional, collegiate and youth teams.

The following session was observed at La Manga, Spain on June 1, 2001 as England prepared for their World Cup qualifier against Greece.

Coaching Staff present:

  • Sven Goran Eriksson
  • Sammy Lee
  • Peter Taylor


Warm Up:

Phase I: The squad was split into 2 groups as shown in Diagram (a) below. Players moved freely around the pitch for several minutes, without a ball, before stopping to perform various individual static stretching exercises.

Diagram A
Diagram A

Phase II:

Assistant coach, Sammy Lee, speaks to the players before sending them off in pairs with one ball to work on various technical aspects of the game – Ex. One partner serves the ball from his hands while the other returns the ball with volleys etc.

Players performed static stretches as a group. After several minutes of stretching the players moved around the pitch passing with their partner.

Warm Up Activity:

A 15 x 25 yard pitch was organized as shown in Diagram (b) below. Two teams were selected. Full-size goals were used. A game of team handball was played – all players were encouraged to move constantly.

Goals could only be scored from a header or volley.

Diagram B
Diagram B

Note: After the warm–up phase the squad was split into 2 groups and sent with Peter Taylor and Sammy Lee. Both groups performed the same activities at opposite ends of the field.

Activity #1:

Set Up: Players were organized as shown in Diagram (c) below. Cones and flags were used to establish the starting point for each player. A supply of balls was placed next to cones (1).

Diagram C
Diagram C


Player at cone (1) passes to player (C). Player (C) lays the ball off for player (D). Player (D) passes the ball diagonally for a shot by player (G). The sequence is repeated on the opposite side.
All players rotate positions after each pass.


Activity proved confusing for players.

Activity #2:

Same set-up as above. See Diagram (d) below.

Diagram D
Diagram D


See Diagram (d) above. Player at cone (1) passes to player (C). Player (C) lays the ball off for a shot by player (D). Sequence was repeated on opposite side. All players rotate positions after each pass.


Activity was much less confusing since it consisted of two passes and then a shot.
The exercise flowed and the players built a good rhythm.

Activity #3:

Set Up:

Players were split into 2 groups and positioned as shown in Diagram (e) below. A target player (center forward) was positioned just outside the penalty area as shown. A supply of balls was placed next to each line of players.

Diagram E
Diagram E


A pass was made from either line to the center forward as shown above. The center forward controlled the ball while both players made a cross-over run. The center forward turned quickly and “played in” one of the players for a shot. The other player followed in for any rebounds.
The center forward was switched every minute while the other players switched lines after each repetition.

Coaching Points:

  • Good weighted pass into forward.
  • Good runs off the ball.
  • Quality control and pass from the center forward.
  • Quality finishing.
  • Everything must be done at realistic game-like speeds.

Activity #4:

Set Up:

Two groups were positioned as shown in Diagram (f) below. A supply of balls was placed next to each group.

Diagram F
Diagram F


Either player (A or B) dribbles at pace to goal. Just outside the box, he fakes the shot and stops the ball or back-heels it for his partner. The partner attempted to finish with one touch. The next ball begins from the opposite line.

Coaching points:

  • Be direct – go for goal.
  • Good communication.
  • Quality lay-off
  • Timing of runs and release of pass.


Very basic activity that all players seemed to really enjoy.
Players performed the activity with a high level of enthusiasm.

Note: All players went with Sammy Lee for a 15 minute group stretch.

Final Game:

The squad was split into two teams – first 11, and second 11.

Diagram G
Diagram G

After the 11v11 game Sammy Lee led the group on a cool-down run and through a variety of static stretching exercises.

Overall Observations:

  • Length of session – 90 minutes total.
  • Everything about the practice was very professional. The playing areas were set up and organized with detail before the players even arrived for training.
  • Speed of play and passing was of high quality.
  • All players constantly talked to each other – communication was excellent.
  • Sven Goran Eriksson spoke very little to any players in a coaching context. He observed the session and spoke mainly to his assistants.
  • Starting Lineup against Greece six days later:

Seaman, Neville.P, Cole.Ashley, Gerrard, Keown, Ferdinand, Beckham, Scholes, Fowler, Owen, Heskey.

Result: Greece 0 – 2 England (Goals – Scholes, Beckham)