18 February 2012

Style vs Substance vs Hypocrisy

By Dr3
It’s interesting that it has taken the Italians (largely) winning the guaranteed annual Anglo-Italian battles, for perspective to arrive in my readings as regards to the ‘meaning’ of results in the Champion’s League. It suggests, that for all of the ‘worldview’ writing that I thought I was reading, that there still was/is an overarching pro-English agenda, a consequence of being English-speaking/reading after all. Either that or, the undeniable, certified truth that the English Premiership is the best football league in all aspects, such that any dithering in ‘dominance’ on the part of any of its teams can be explained away with the right perspective.

It’s interesting because there is an acceptance that both of Real Madrid and Barcelona can beat any of their teams without looking any further. They’re better. They play better. But defeat to the Italians causes something else. A deeper reflection. They can’t be better. Or even that good. Instead it is a reflection on their team having a poor season, trying to find the right balance, UEFA co-efficients and its meaning, sample sizes and the like (not to point directly at Whittall). It’s the type of perspective and wisdom not being afforded to the very same Italians, where instead a defeat to Tottenham represents further proof of an aging Milan from an aging league. It had nothing to do with Max Allegri’s team adjusting tactically in his debut season. Nothing at all. It begs a series of questions about the perception of quality.

One apparent reality is that the quality of the Italian Serie A is diminished in the face of European results, such that it's decline and inferiority is in fact taken as truth, while pretentiously written as 'truth'. Manchester United defeating a Champions League representative from the Italian Serie A in 2007 by 6 goals, meant that the Premiership was 6 goals better than the Serie A. No mention of Calciopoli needed.

Another fallacious conclusion which I’ll suggest is now ubiquitous, is that there is a correlation between style and quality. It’s very intriguing because it actually demands that once of a certain quality, a team must play in one way. Such that teams as defensive tactically as Italian teams are, represent inferior ones. It’s interesting because it is so widely accepted, a bit similar to “keeping the ball requiring less energy/work”.  According to whom? Without being facetious, undoubtedly weaker teams do attempt damage control and fast breaks a la counter-attacking. However, counter-attacking can be so engrossingly different tactically, that to summarize counter-attacking into a tool of the weak is to be lacking in football-acumen and to be an ass.

Counter-attacking like Sam Allerdyce’s are the ugly weak-team stuff that dreams aren’t made of; not Mazzarri’s. The efficiency required to play like Mazzarri’s or even Mourinho’s teams, demands exceptional ball usage and accuracy in order to be effective; traits not usually associated with a lack of quality. Anyway, without getting too much into the perception being justified or not, it’s just been really, really, very interesting, witnessing the hypocritical, premature, alarmist, sordid depth of English football’s postmortem examination.

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