Complex football concepts and development (part 2) 


The opposite of scientific application: Edgar Morin and complexity 

In the middle of the 20th century, Edgar Morin deepened his thinking on science, education, culture, and society. What this French philosopher and sociologist was looking for was to develop a way of thinking that would force him to complete the evolution of the subject. This thinking is reflected in his thesis of transdisciplinary (in addition to his own work, he also draws on the work of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, Gibson, Lewis Strauss, Hacken).

Morin begins by criticising the sciences and their scientific method, the way in which this creates knowledge, and states that the sciences are killing man and breaking him, distancing him from human reality; he says that knowledge of social phenomena is not in the parts that make up the whole, but in the relationships that emerge between these components. Reality or phenomena must be studied from the complexity and not from its parts.

A complex system is a system that cannot be characterised by the sum of the characteristics and qualities of its parts, and its behaviour cannot be predicted through its components.

"When I speak of complexity," explains Edgar Morin, "I am referring to the elementary Latin meaning of the word 'complexus', 'that which is woven together'. The constituents are different, but we must see the overall picture, as in a tapestry.

The real problem is that we have learned too well to separate. It is better to learn to connect. To link, that is to say not only to establish an end-to-end connection, but to establish a connection that is made in a loop. Moreover, in the word "connect", there is the "re", which means the return of the loop on itself. And the loop is self-productive. Knowledge today must have instruments, fundamental concepts that will make it possible to connect.

The properties of a system cannot be explained by examining the parts individually, as any change in these parts affects the whole.

He explains what he considers to be the essential principles guiding the analysis of complex systems:

- Uncertainty: The behaviour of a complex system cannot be predicted in the long term

- Wholeness: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

- Interdependence: There is an interaction between all the elements

- Spontaneous urgency: the interaction of elements creates a new whole different from the sum of its parts.

This paradigm of complexity rejects the paradigm of classical thinking, formulated by Descartes, which is based on the opposition between mind and matter, body, and soul. Edgar Morin's wide-ranging work has influenced many disciplines, including sport, and therefore football.

Complex football, global thinking, and coaching. The "school" of global thinking in coaching

The Portuguese philosopher Manuel Sergio is credited with theorising about football and complex thinking through his theory of 'human motricity'.

Manuel Sergio considers football as the theatre of all human sciences, that the player is above all a man, with this famous sentence that changed the perspective of the young Mourinho, his pupil, "who only knows football will never understand football".

For the creator of the science of human motor skills, football is all about the moving matter of the human mind. And it is this incorporeal part that must be developed in order to progress.

Like Victor Fradé after him, Manuel Sergio also benefited from the theses developed by Antonio Damasio, a Portuguese neuroscience professor, and particularly from his theory of somatic markers demonstrating that reason and emotion are not opposed. This theory briefly discussed on page 53 of this book has opened up important reflections on the player's mind.

Manuel Sergio was a great inspiration to Victor Frade, Director of Training at FC Porto and Paco Seirul-lo, physical trainer at Barça, but also to José Mourinho, his pupil.

Victor Fradé is the one who will translate Manuel Sergio's theories (although they never met) into a real science of training through tactical periodisation, the objective of this book. For him, football is a non-linear sport.

It is not a sum of things. The well-known example of the Rubik's cube is telling in this respect. When you have finished one side, the opposite side has also become different (unless you are a master at it). Everything a coach does on one side has a consequence elsewhere. Working on each dimension of the game in isolation is therefore inadequate. You have to work on all the dimensions together. (This is what we will see throughout this book).

Tactical periodisation first affected Portuguese coaches and then developed in the football world. José Mourinho found the tactical concretisation of the ideas acquired with Sergio Manuel and became the symbol of this methodology.

Paco Seiru.lo based onthe work of Manuel Sergio created his model of tactical periodisation called the cognitive model or periodisation of structured training. For Seiru.lo the athlete is at the heart of everything. His method has much in common with Victor Fradé (especially concerning the conception of physical preparation) but with a different starting point.

These specialists, with extensive training and experience, have definitely contributed to a new vision of the practice and theory of football training. Most likely, it is also no coincidence that both are physical education professionals, faced with a very complex sport like football, which is very difficult to study and analyze scientifically. The following scheme attempts to show the strong links between coaches working on the complexity of football. But there are also links for example between Mourinho (then assistant coach of Robson and then Van Gall), Seiru-lo physical trainer, and Guardiola (then player) when they were together for 5 years at Barca.

A football team is a system (team) where a set of players interact with each other to achieve a common goal. It is not about acting (individual) but interacting (group). Football and the game that a team produces is a very complex phenomenon because of its components (unpredictable, random and non-linear)

We are interested in the fact that football has to build its own training "method" that respects the complexity of the game. We already know some of the characteristics that this "method" must have, among others: the systemic and the complex. From these two characteristics, we will build the proposal of what is and should be a football training "method" and the changes that this would imply in all the processes or areas of training.

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