Playing out from the back is not a style suited for Northern Premier League, says Dolly Blues boss Mark Fell

Luke Thompson
Luke Thompson

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell reckons Pep Guardiola’s total football is perhaps not a style of play best suited for the Northern Premier League.

The Dolly Blues boss this week signed no-nonsense defender Luke Thompson from his former club Ramsbottom United.

While the 27-year-old has no shortage of ability, he is a centre half whose prime focus is to defend first.

That is something that Fell favours despite the current fashion in football for ball-playing centre halves.

While playing out from the back is something Guardiola’s Manchester City side have mastered on their way to winning the Premier League this season, trying to replicate that in the nitty gritty of non-league is not something Fell believes will lead to success.

“I think you have to play to your environment,” said Fell.

“I have got the UEFA A-Licence – I have been through all the FA qualifications and there is nobody who will say this is the right way to play.

“You play to the league you are in, the conditions, the level and the environment.

“We want to build and play football where possible, but I have seen many teams at this level play out from the back and get caught.

“I was watching England the other day and the mistake by John Stones, a pundit was saying that if that’s your style of play a mistake like that will happen once out of 50 at that level.

“But at our level, that probably goes up to 20 out of 50. mWe want to play in the right areas, go back to front quickly.

“That’s not being direct, it’s about playing at a good tempo and getting the ball into good areas as well as we can.

“If that means taking four or five passes or just two passes then so be it.

“If you were a full-time set-up, you would probably want to do it differently.

“But we have three hours a week maximum to work with the players.

“You have to be functional. Manchester City play out from the back, but they’re playing on absolute carpets.

“If they came to our league, I am not so sure they would be as successful playing that football as they are.”

Thompson’s arrival will fill the void left by youngster Oliver Muir, who has decided his future lies away from Giant Axe after refusing a new contract.

“I have known Luke a long time,” said Fell. “I think I said when he signed that he would head a brick if you asked him.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve; he’s full of character, heart, work rate. Luke is the type of player you want away at Nantwich Town on a cold December night.

“He’s got quality on the ball and I think he will adapt well to this level. He’s got the potential to step up to be a top defender.”