Every coach, I think, knows the best way to test players is to bring them into a match situation, especially with an opponent that's higher in competitive class or fitter and has better team play. There you will iimmediately identify players who can persevere and raise their game as the occasion requires.
Over the last 15 years or so, I've probably assessed close to 1000 football players from all sorts of grades and talent hunt projects - from academy or athletic scholarship selection screenings to scouting for a professional team or assessing players for onward marketing abroad...
When I started assessing players years ago, I just watch for basic things.... like what most football fans would say, "...to select a good player isn't rocket science... football skills doesn't hide..." So I quick go for anyone who can play to the gallery - dribbles well and can do some stunts with the ball... you know that kind of Jay jay Okocha's style of play. I believed such players can sell anywhere on earth.
But as I continued to Assess players and take them to trials in Europe and America, I started to see what the "real qualities" and impact of great players are...
Read This: GreenBall Trial Camp Wants You to Showcase Your Football Talent in Front of Scouts and Agents – Here in Lagos Nigeria
If you haven't heard of "A-Players" before, don't feel bad. Here's a quick rundown when it comes to selecting players in the conext of management or taking them to trials as an Agent, you can generally group them into 3 categories:
1. "A-players" are rare to find, they work hard, go over and above their personal abilities when the team is in difficult situations or under so much pressure. They try to carry the team on their shoulders, motivating others instead of blaming and feeling bad about a player's or team's deficiency. Their game are usually more purposeful and their determination help them to produce extraordinary performances.
In situations like this, a player that possesses speed, tenacity, quick response in making decisions in the field of play... power to win tackles and cut out passes... to follow the coach's instructions and take on additional responsibilities to cover the deficiency of his teammates. Of course, all these requires that the player possess stamina (that's what to look out for).
Coaches and Scouts must be careful not to throw away a great player, because they are not usually that kind of a flash-in-pan players. I read about how Barcelona mangement wanted to thow Pep Gardiola out of the Academy years ago, but for Johan Cruyff who idenified these slime qualities of a man who eventually changed Barcelona both as a player and as a coach.
2. "B-players" are more commonly regarded as the "good" not "great" players. They cover their position well but do not go out of their way... their impact are usually minimal in dare situations.... they aren't game changers and cannot play the role of a Super-Sub in a difficult match.
This category of players are more commonly found. They possess skills like one-two touches, pass the ball at random, most times without purpose, just to get the ball off their feet. Their ball intelligence are usually average... they can dribble backwards and kill vital attacking moves, violate team plan to void risks... They play to the gallery and are not that effective in defending or attacking... and hardly scores goals.
When a player does not show exceptional ball intelligence and purposefulness, you quickly know he is a"B-player," no matter how much he displays of other skills.
3. "C Players" do less than enough to stay in the game, they usually fade away as the game gets more competitive. They can't keep to the pace of the game, so their confidence elopes and they start making lots of mistakes and put pressure on their own team.
They are usually slower and poor ball skilled players. They have below average ball intelligence and their techniques are predicable.. They are mechanical kind of players, hardly flexible and cannot switch positions as a particular game requires. They are usually poorly positioned and make the game difficult for their teammates.
It takes me just about 10 minutes or so to identify a good player because they are that kind of players whose skills immediately shines at the start of the game ... It takes probably less time to even identify a mechanical kind of player. But for a great player, it may take probably 90 + minutes or even different match situations to idenify.
There's yet another kind of great players call the Super-sub. They are "utility players" because they can fit into most positions, but that's not the thing special about them. It is their exceptional ball intelligence... they can read the game well and usually take advantage of opponent's weakness few minutes after they are introduced into the game.
Supersubs sit on the bench probably because they lack the stamina to last in a full 90 minutes stretch or the coach may keep them on the bench for strategic reasons... You know players like Nwankwo Kanu, they are game changers and possess some deaf skills to do the damage against opponents.
Most coaches would build their game plan around such great players if they are privileged to have one or two... -and depend on them in difficult games. This is probably one of the reasons why agents keenly look out for such great players...they can price them much higher during negotiations and make quite some handsome commissions out of them.