‘It was perfect’: The TikTok startup tactic taking European football by storm

MAnchester United tried it at the start of the second half against Liverpool on Monday, hours after Paris Saint-Germain perfected the trendy kick-off routine that is sweeping European football. Kylian Mbappé scored within nine seconds against Lille after applying the finishing touch late in the game. four pass movement apparently first tried by Bournemouth last year and since then copied by Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Sparta Rotterdam with mixed success. Or maybe Mbappé was inspired by Cliftonville in Northern Ireland’s top division, which he dominated the same sequence when Ronan Hale opened the scoring 7.92 seconds into their win over Carrick last Saturday.

Cliftonville did not spend days on the training ground; rather, an hour before the game, their analyst Damian McAuley showed the team a TikTok video that has gone viral since being shared by Bournemouth, which featured a compilation of efforts, starting with Dominic Solanke’s trendsetting strike seven seconds into the second half at Craven Cottage. last december “Dee [McAuley] he had his iPad and he was just like, “Did you see this? It’s all over TikTok, it’s been exploding recently.” We all saw it while sitting in the dressing room and thought, “Why don’t you try it, something a little different?” And luckily, it worked right away. “

Movement of the PSG


Kylian Mbappé took just 8 SECONDS to open the scoring for PSG against Lille 😮‍💨 pic.twitter.com/ziibIszhWL

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 21, 2022

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Bournemouth’s under-16s had joy with movement against Northampton last Saturday. Reduced, the routine goes: the player throwing the pass passes to a teammate on the edge of the center circle and receives the ball back; He then passes it to another nearby player whose job it is to hit a pass behind the defense for a forward to run on. “As soon as the ball was put back into the person on the edge of the center circle, my job was just to sprint as fast as I could and wait for the ball to come,” says Hale, who ended up scoring with an overhead kick impromptu stitch “The opposition defense did not know what was happening. They tried to ask for offside, but everything happened very quickly and the next thing the ball was in the back of the net”.

The routine was devised in Bournemouth by Scott Parker’s assistant Matt Wells, grandson of former Wales winger Cliff Jones. “As always, we work tirelessly in terms of details and trying to figure out where we can exploit certain areas,” Parker said at the time. “The goal was straight from the training ground. We wanted to try to take advantage of the spaces between the wing and the middle. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t.”

Dominic Solanke celebrates with Ryan Christie behind him after scoring Bournemouth's goal at Fulham who seems to be bucking the trend.
Dominic Solanke (right) pulls away to celebrate after scoring Bournemouth’s goal at Fulham which seems to be on the back of the trend. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Real Madrid twice ran the routine against PSG in the Champions League last season. On one occasion they did so skillfully, but Vinícius Júnior deflected his shot wide and on another Marco Asensio overcame the final pass to allow Gianluigi Donnarumma to pick up the ball. On Monday, Bruno Fernandes sold a short Christian Eriksen as United tried the routine. Rayo had attempted a version at Old Trafford during last month’s friendly against United. This month Sparta Rotterdam scored with a move almost identical to the one used by Bournemouth when Vito van Crooij opened the scoring against AZ Alkmaar. “It’s cool how teams are testing it,” says Hale. “But I’m not sure how long people will get away with it before the defenders just camp out inside their own area before launch.”

Mbappé’s goal is the fastest in Ligue 1 history and the routine could bring down more records. “I can see a lot more routines coming out to try different things,” says Hale. “We were a bit shocked that it actually worked because the ball could have been headed out of play or hit over the top. But everything was perfect as far as the move. I went into the dressing room and Dee came up to me and said Match of the Day [on social media] they caught it and it was already going viral. My Twitter was going crazy with everything being reposted.”

Cliftonville’s opponents, Carrick Rangers, were not so ecstatic. “I heard one of them say to one of my teammates as I was walking away, ‘Did you take that off TikTok?'” says Hale. “I think they were so surprised it happened. Their defenders are probably thinking, ‘The ball’s just going to go up and we’re going to defend it.’ But if they step up a little bit and see one pass go back and the next one goes over them , they’re in a sticky spot and that’s what happened on Saturday.”

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