Johan Cruyff “There is no greater medal than to be acclaimed for your style”
I fail to understand why teams don’t encourage attacking football and aim to entertain, by bringing in expressive flair players and making the game a true spectacle, as there are only a handful of trophies to be won every season, so only a few teams are ever going to win anything.
So why not attack, entertain and let the players be free rein and liberated to enjoy their football and play as they would wish. That way the fans will be happy, as will the players.
The problem in this country is English players aren’t coached to be creative and have flair, they are encouraged to boot it hard and long, and with that be fast and strong.
Which brings me on to my next point, why are British youngsters technically inferior and lack the flair of the rest of Europe and South America? One definitive reason for this is the fact English coaches favour physical attributes as opposed to technical ability when assessing youth players. For example Shaun Wright Phillips was rejected after going on trial with Nottingham Forest as they thought he was too small and would never make it.
Whereas Ajax, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, River Plate, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Claire Fontaine and the other world class youth academies offer an opposing view encouraging technical grace and agility rather than pace and brutality. A club like River Plate or Barcelona do not discriminate against the smaller player, in-fact they often base their teams around the diminutive players e.g. Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan at Barca and Aimar, Saviola who started at River Plate. They prefer to assess purely on natural ability and do-not see the smaller stature as a weakness or hurdle that can’t be overcome by the development of their raw talent. In-fact Barcelona were willing to invest in an unproven 13 year old Messi paying for his necessary growth hormone treatment, his previous club Newell’s Old Boys were not willing to make the £500 per month investment.
Within Britain youngsters are taught to play long ball football and win at all costs. Abroad youth football isn’t about winning or how fast or strong you are it’s about personal development and improving technical and tactical ability. These coaching methods encourage creative “no.10” players to flourish that comparatively the English game has lacked.
The England football team has suffered from a dearth of left footed and technically adept players over recent years, and has failed to win a major International trophy since 1966. British training methods and coaches don’t encourage skillful or inventive players, the few who have slipped through the net have been more by accident than design. Hoddle and Le Tissier were outstanding creative flair players who were largely outcast from the England team as they were seen as luxury players, that don’t fit into the team structure. Whereas abroad they embrace these inventive mavericks and build the team around their abilities, not ostracize them for being unique. Further highlighting the flawed English viewpoint that favours physical attributes, those players that tow the line and fit within the narrow minded and rigid English 4-4-2 formations and playing styles.
Barca have shown the way, beautiful football and winning aren’t mutually exclusive, you can be both.
At the end of the day football is meant to be a form of entertainment, escapism from mundane everyday life.