David Preece: Forget Kylie Minogue - I've got a new football obsession!

I have a new obsession. In a place once occupied by Kylie Minogue, crisps and biscuits, now stands corners, throw-ins and free kicks. Yes, my name is David and I am a Set Piece-aholic.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 3:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd June 2019, 1:36 pm
David Preece has a new football obsession - sorry Kylie!
David Preece has a new football obsession - sorry Kylie!

It wasn’t always this way. I was always more than interested in them, sure. An intricate free kick routine here, a long throw-in specialist thereabout as much as loved them I had it under control.

As a player I loved the details. The tiny fractions that could make all the difference between scoring or conceding. It was mostly the latter that interested me as the consequence of defensive set pieces had a direct effect on me.

The attacking set plays were other people’s responsibility. It was up to them to work out their plans and I think that’s what kept me in check. Walls and defensive set-ups were all I was bothered with. It wasn’t until I moved to Denmark that the problems all started. I should have seen the signs but the dark shadow of addiction creeps up on you like . . . well, like a big dark shadow creeping up on you.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It was around that time in 2005 that I began to dabble in the hard stuff. I’m almost afraid to say it in fear of fellow of being blackballed from the PFA. No, not the Professional Footballers Association. I’m talking about the Pundits of Football Association. What the hell, I’m just going to say it. In the summer of 2005, I began using zonal marking.

I know what you’re all thinking but Viggo Jensen was so persuasive and I didn’t want to upset him by insisting that I stayed on the man-marking system that I had been brought up on. You know what it’s like when you’re with someone new. You’ll do anything to please them and I was no different.

I didn’t go full zonal to begin with. I’m not stupid. When you start swimming you don’t jump in to the middle of the sea but maybe that was my biggest mistake. We agreed on a hybrid system; some players taking zones, some marking up. And it went well. Too well and now, fourteen years down the line I’m a full on advocate of zonal marking. I know I’m English and it’s not what I’m supposed to do but I’ve seen beyond the “At least with man marking you know who to blame if somebody scores.” and frankly I’m in too deep.

I know I’m bringing shame upon myself by admitting this but the first step is acknowledgement and by putting this out there I hope you will all understand.

It isn’t the only dirty little secret I have to confess so in for a penny, in for a pound. To feed my habit further I attended the Statsbomb Set Piece course in London last week. Of course it was in the guise of a professional capacity as I’m responsible for our set plays at Östersunds. And now? Now I’m in too deep.

Things have got so bad these past few months that I’m actually dreaming about set plays. You watch so much footage of what the opposition have done and organising how you are going to exploit weaknesses you see in them, it’s difficult to switch off.

If anything the Statsbomb course has only made things worse for me. Just when I thought corners and Free kicks were all that I needed, in comes Ted Knutsen and Euan Dewar with their throw-ins and now there is no hope for me. The only positive to come out of all of this is I now have the basis for an autobiography. The story of David Preece; How I Lost My Life To A Long Throw Set Piece. Cheers, Statsbomb. Thank you very much.