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Lennon explains to his peers how he overcame Barcelona

STYLES make fights.

Neil Lennon was among those at the inaugural European Managers and Coaches Forum
Neil Lennon was among those at the inaugural European Managers and Coaches Forum

A number of leading managers lined up to admit as much yesterday. The shared message was one of awe and admiration for Barcelona's hypnotic brand of passing and pressing but with it came an admission that none would be daft enough to try to emulate it.

So many factors have gone into creating the aura that exists around the Catalan club, many of them organic, that it seems pointless to even try. For those charged with trying to find a way of stopping them, it seems the only answer is to find another method.

Neil Lennon was among those giving their thoughts on Barcelona as he joined the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello, Roy Hodgson at the inaugural European Managers and Coaches Forum held at St George's Park, the new home of training, education and development for football in England.

The Celtic manager is one of only two to have defeated Barcelona this season – Jose Mourinho is the other – and did so with a system and style vastly different to the possession-based play and quickfire passing of the Catalans. But, as Celtic showed, if you can't join them, beat them.

"Barcelona set the template," said Lennon. "It's a dangerous template because a lot of managers strive to play like that. You must understand the culture you're playing in.

"What we're seeing now in the current Barcelona team and Spanish team, are the best footballing teams I've seen. So, that's what we all strive to be now. We can't all be that way, we have to cultivate our own styles."

Capello, now coaching Russia, was similarly cautious about trying to recreate what first Pep Guardiola and now Tito Vilanova have done, but felt there were elements that could be reproduced.

"If you try to copy the style it is a big mistake because the style you can only play with the players of Barcelona," said Capello. "But you can copy the defensive style. When you lose the ball you go forward together to win back the ball quickly, never go back, never return to midfield. They lose the ball, they go forward. For me this is something new."

Nothing lasts forever in world football, though. Barcelona have been dominant for the best part of the last five years but there was a consensus among the gathered managers that they will be usurped eventually.

"Jose Mourinho brought a new revolutionary style about the middle of the decade," Lennon said. "Guardiola's kicked on from that and France had their cycle late '90s. Then maybe an English team, an English manager or an English club may set the template for the game over the next 10 years."

Moyes, the Everton manager, can also see changes afoot. "There will be something else, the next future. A new type of players will develop. I don't think football will change dramatically but the styles on the field, systems, tactics, will evolve."

Finances dictate that the richest clubs will usually come out on top, but the gap between the minnows and the rest is closing. Lennon believes a vast improvement in coaching and tactical awareness in previously underdeveloped football nations is the reason why.

"Even if you go to countries like Latvia and Iceland, coaches are far more au fait in terms of tactics," he said. "There's a huge difference with the introduction of the pro-licence in the various associations. When coaches go and study other clubs, managers and players, they become more tactically aware."

Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, suggests the meticulous approach of Lennon makes him an example of that.

"Guys like Neil are very unique. [He was] a wonderful player and did a fantastic job in preparing himself for the position. That's very important for up-and-coming managers to understand that there are no shortcuts. You have to prepare yourself well both on and off the field. If you can do that it doesn't guarantee success but it gives you an opportunity."

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