Total Football, we have all heard this phrase being used. It’s bounded around by commentators and coaches as if it were a phrase that depicts a supreme playing method, or a flowing attacking tactical approach to the game. In its purest form, Total Football is proactive and not based on counter attack, and also uses on positional interchange and hard pressing. A player who moves out of position is replaced by a team mate, and retaining the team’s intended formation. In this fluid system, no outfield player is fixed in a nominal role; anyone can be successively an attacker, a midfielder or in defence. The only player fixed in a nominal position is the keeper.
The foundations for Total Football were actually laid by Englishman Jack Reynolds who was the manager of Ajax on 3 occasions, from 1915 to 1947 (as well as being held in a Nazi internment camp).
Total Football’s tactical success depends largely on the adaptability of each footballer within the team, in particular the ability to quickly switch positions depending on the on-field situation. The theory requires players to be comfortable in multiple positions; hence, it places high technical and physical demands on them. In a nutshell, it is hard to achieve.