THE MATTHEW TIPTON COLUMN

The Matthew Tipton column.
The Matthew Tipton column.

Warrenpoint Town boss and former professional striker Matthew Tipton has signed up to provide a weekly column on his views of a debut season in Irish League management and playing career covering 10 clubs across three countries:

“I tend to write my column on a Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s publication but everything I had been working on for this week got binned around 9.45 last night.

“Barcelona’s Champions’ League comeback against PSG was breathtaking, baffling and simply brilliant.

“The drama of trying to turn around a 4-0 first-leg deficit and then to regroup and go again on the night at 3-1 was gripping even before those last crazy moments with three goals after 88 minutes.

“It capped off a superb few days of Champions’ League football after Bayern Munich’s demolition of Arsenal that may not have had the same drama but was fascinating for different reasons.

“The Champions’ League may be a million miles away from our own game but I couldn’t help but think back as I was watching the European football to Warrenpoint Town.

“We went in as underdogs against top-flight Dungannon Swifts on Saturday in the Irish Cup and took the lead before conceding an equaliser and losing in extra-time.

“At all levels, it is amazing how momentum plays such a part in football and how things shift in-play.

“Our game in Dungannon and the Champions’ League fixtures also emphasised to me how little control a manager can have during 90 minutes and how psychology plays such a massive part in the moment.

“Warrenpoint, Arsenal and PSG all reacted in different ways under different circumstances but, ultimately, all finished on the losing side.

“We, of course, were looking to pull off a cup shock against an established Premiership side and there’s no shame in losing under the circumstances of Saturday.

“By winning 4-0 in the first leg, PSG must have felt that was a landmark moment for a club so dominant at domestic level but desperate to become a major force in the Champions’ League.

“In the end, they would have been aiming to trust in the quality to stand toe-to-toe with Barcelona given the massive advantage before Wednesday night and such a highly-valued squad - but ended up falling short.

“For Arsenal, at 5-1 before Tuesday it was effectively over but the collapse of the team on the night - even with 10 men - exposed what must be seen as a mental weakness in that group.

“All three clubs would have prepared as best as possible going into the games I am sure (I know I was satisfied with our work) but, once the whistle blows, the manager has limited or practically no influence.

“Games swing and shift and I could see at 1-0 we were naturally dropping deeper given the advantage and high stakes of what a win would mean to Warrenpoint.

“I introduced a forward at 1-0 to try and stretch the game, another at 1-1 to try and get back the momentum and another later to end up with three or four up top when chasing the game at 2-1 down.

“Earlier in the season I managed to make a few substitutions and tactical changes against Dergview and we turned the game from 2-0 down to 3-2 up.

“It was a great feeling - one of the best in my short time as manager - but then and on Saturday during the game I was questioning everything inside my head about our preparations, training, selection, tactics etc.

“As a manger you can see it happening in front of you but even if you try to change it with subs or tactics or by even just giving instructions, often the game just shifts with you unable to really do much.

“I’ve been in big wins and a big defeat as a player and even on the pitch you can often sense the momentum shifting and your team either dropping back to protect a lead or feeling everything is clicking and just going for the opposition.

“Arsenal have been struggling and as they fell apart to finish 5-1 down in the second leg as well it reminded me of a team without shape and more just a bunch of individuals lacking cohesion, even at that level.

“Bayern, in contrast, had the tie won but refused to ease off and went for the throat.

“Bayern and PSG both tend to be the major forces in their own leagues and used to winning but the mental approach to each game was completely different.

“We also have been fortunate enough to be winning more games than losing in our own division.

“You could see at 1-0 up how our players changed the normal attacking approach and started dropping back.

“PSG, from the first whistle, seemed to change the normal style too from attacking football that has been so successful to sitting on the first-leg lead.

“It didn’t suit us against Dungannon Swifts and only invited more pressure even in spite of our efforts to flick that switch back from the sidelines.

“It certainly didn’t suit PSG either and, even at 3-1, they crumbled - albeit under the pressure and drive and talent of a Barcelona side still with world-class players.

“As the saying goes, football’s 90 per cent in the head and 10 per cent physical.”