30 May 2010

Aunty Football?

By Dr3

not quite parked?

This is me rendering a guess as to how a term people have been using should really be spelled. The mere fact that I actually feel it necessary to ‘speak on’ this (at some length) is testimony to just how far we’ve all fallen as far as ignorance and idiocy goes.

To suggest that there is an “anti” of anything, is to suggest that there is a right way, a proper manner, or even a prominent manner of doing something. Outside of things governed by the laws of football, there is no boundary, no ceiling, and no restrictions to the style with which any team chooses to play. Beyond that, to suggest that any bunch of players can be made to play any style of football is as foolhardy as suggesting that if brass is polished and smoothed for long enough, it will not only look like, but will become platinum.

There’s purist-talk, but then there’s delusional, ignorant and idiotic-talk.

Passing the stage of shaking my head at strange tweets, facebook statuses, blogs, blog comments, editorials, and polls, I was actually forced to refresh my web browser. “If a coach has confidence in the ability of his players, he wouldn’t play counter-attacking football”. Exactly how entrusting your players to be able to play precise one and two-touch passes, as well as having a high enough efficiency rate to score more goals from less ‘chances’, while expecting them to not concede being under more ‘pressure’, constitutes a lack of confidence is a million dollar question if there ever was one. Then there are those who feel privileged that the philosophy of ‘their’ team revolves around attacking and true football. In a world (this world) in which football is about scoring goals, it’s interesting that a team that outscores another can be accused of playing ‘anti’-football.

A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

So let’s talk brass and platinum. If I train Zlatan for long enough he will become Eto’o? If I coach Muntari enough he will become Xavi? If I coach players for long enough, their game can radically be transformed? I mean seriously the amount of ignorance that people show sometimes is quite frightening, actually not really; after all civil unrest in Angola reflects safety problems facing South Africa (last time I’ll harp on this I promise). To even half-suggest or hint at any team being able to play any one of the diverse array of tactics, is not only laughable, but quite simply stupid. You play, with what you have. To draw a parallel, inferior raw materials cannot make superior quality finished products. Being able to hone players’ talents, by choosing the right tactics and style of play, is the mark of exceptional management. Period. To suggest that this honing should always result in “expansive”, or supposedly ‘attacking’ play, for ‘big teams’ is again, ludicrous. To suggest conversely that Fabregas can play the same for an Inter as he does at Arsenal is even more ludicrous. To suggest that if Pep Guardiola goes to Stoke City, they would become Barcelona B or even further to suggest that the current Galatasaray play like Rijkaard's Barcelona is …… (exactly).

Without question a coach stamps and can stamp his preferred style of play and tactics on any group of players (the perfect example being Capello’s Real, and England). However, coaches are not magicians; it is why they spend money on players that will suite their style. The players must have the qualities needed by the coach to play a certain style. Even though a coach may have his ideal system, depending on the players at his disposal, and how compatible their strengths are, he will have to make the suitable changes to tactics etc, and again harness the players’ strengths (Fergie post-Ruud, Ancelotti’s non-Christmas tree at Chelsea, Mourinho following flopping of Mancini/Quaresma, and even Leonardo after discovering just how one-track Ronaldinho is). Not that Jose represents the divine fountain of life’s/footballs truths (me being slightly satirical), but apparently he knew that I would be in need of a quote:

One needs to know what one has and apply it in the best way to cause damage. When I had Cech who could distribute long balls with precision and Drogba who could win the ball up front, why not use a more direct style? What is the use of building play from the back? But if you have a Milito that does not have the same qualities, the style of play needs to be different. Madrid have Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka who are both very good in one on one situations with defenders. In that case, it is best to seek a style that sets up one-on-one opportunities. The principles of one's style of play depend on the footballers in one's service.

What’s good for the goose?

I have never seen a flowing, attacking, cup-final (maybe in the Intertoto Cup). Regardless of score lines, all finals are cagey simply because of how much is at stake. They always involve one team patiently building (as to not lose possession), and the other team countering. They are predominantly decided by moments of genius twinned with ‘blunders’. Barcelona-Arsenal, Brazil-Germany, Brazil-France, Manchester-Chelsea, Barcelona-Manchester…….(insert your team’s final).

Stop being hypocritical because your team(s) was/were not involved. Stop recycling your Italian/German-football bigot-clichés. Stop grasping for meaning because your team’s philosophy hasn’t returned your desired result. Stop being a bitter purist, creating football utopias. Be intelligent enough to keep some perspective. Be mature enough to stop talking about Football’s relatives.

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