#FIFA World Cup

Walter Samuel on the role of an assistant coach

Walter Samuel, 13 Sep 2023


In this interview, the assistant coach of Argentina’s national team, Walter Samuel, talks about the role of the assistant coach, including the responsibilities before and during a game, and the interactions with both players and the head coach.

Explanation of the role
Samuel explains how his role is to assist the team’s head coach by taking things from his plate to allow him to focus on tactics and game preparation. Samuel helps plan training sessions and works with the medical staff and players. He is also available during games to discuss tactics.

The transition from player to coach
Samuel says as a player, he thought only about playing. However, as a coach, he is constantly thinking about ways of helping players and the coach to create a positive atmosphere for everyone involved, so everything runs smoothly and works well. He emphasises how a good dressing room goes a long way to winning games.

How assistants help the head coach
A part of the role is to keep the head coach relaxed, Samuel says. Assistants are also there to support the coach and give an opinion if asked. The assistants also communicate with the head coach about training sessions.

A different relationship with players
Samuel says the relationship between the assistants and players differs from the relationship between the head coach and players. He says players are often more open with assistants. As an example, players may confide in assistants to having a slight injury, and the assistants will then interact with medical staff before informing the head coach. He notes that assistants try to create a bond with players so they will be more open. The coaches can then decide what information to pass on – or not pass on – to the head coach.

Key functions during a game
The assistant coach helps with tactics during a game, as well as being responsible for dead ball situations. Samuel explains that the assistants also talk to substitutes about positioning in both defensive and attacking phases. He notes how assistants may also be involved in substitution decisions.

The most interesting trend at the 2022 World Cup
Samuel says possession wasn’t king, observing that there were more rapid counter-attacks and more goals were scored. He notes how at the most recent World Cup teams with more possession didn’t always do as well as teams with less of the ball. He stresses how in some games, Argentina enjoyed more possession than in others, but they only pay attention to the statistics to a certain extent. As an example, Argentina had less possession against Croatia, but were more efficient, whereas against Poland they had more of the ball, so it varies from game to game.

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