It’s not long after his sides penalty shoot-out exit at the hands of Chelsea, and Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe is bemoaning the loss. Calling the penalty shoot-out, ‘a lottery’.
Now Eddie is not the first manager to call the shoot out format a lottery. Its been happening ever since they began in the mid-seventies.
But is what he is saying true? Is the penalty shoot-out a lottery?
A lottery suggests too many factors outside of the managers control. Primarily players taking penalties who may not be experienced penalty takers. Or have no confidence in their ability from the spot,
but we are now fifty years into the shoot-out. It has become a game within the game. There is no need for keepers to randomly guess the direction of a penalty. Stay still. Focus on critical information. Which is the penalty takers foot just before they shoot. This will tell you the penalty takers intention. Then if it is in your diving range, you give yourself a chance of saving it.
Penalty takers themselves can be clear=headed. Decisive. Committed. Certain in what it is they are doing. The target is enormous after-all. And your target is not thee keeper!
All of this can, and should be practised. Until the keepers are experts in saving penalties. And the players highly adept in scoring penalties.
Then there is no lottery. No game of chance. No uncertainty. Only high level preparation to create the outcomes that you want.
Eddie Howe may have just been disappointed when he called the shoot-out a lottery. But we can only hope that he is not papering over a less than thorough preparation for this game within the game.