Archive for the ‘General Football Articles’ Category

Jose Mourinho
Fortune, good luck and knife-edge decisions are as much of a decider in the outcome of games as any tactical or technical ability.  To start with everyone is praising the tactical genius of Mourinho and yes Inter defended extremely well considering they were away to a free scoring Barca and a man down for 60 minutes blah blah blah, but as I’m sure the always modest Jose will tell you himself luck had just as big a part to play in Inter’s aggregate Champions League Semi win as any managerial genius. There’s not many things I detest more than show offs and attention seekers. Well Mourinho is not only both of them but his arrogance post beating Barca is very much misplaced .
Barca’s 1-0 2nd leg win would have been enough if either of these 3 key decisions were to have rightfully gone Barca’s way, it should be Barca in the final right now.
  1. Milito’s definite offside goal in the 1st leg
  2. Bojan’s missed point-blank header unmarked from a few yards out in the 2nd leg
  3. The wrongly awarded hand-ball decision against Toure just prior to Bojan’s clear goal in the 2nd leg, it was either not handball, or ball to hand as the Inter defender smashed it at him from a yard away and Toure’s hand was in a very natural position, tucked into his chest.
Mourinho is a very adept manager but Inter are so much better equipped than the rest of Serie A that there is no skill or merit in winning Italian league titles with them and lets not exaggerate things he got VERY lucky to beat Barca and has a very average overall Champions League record after his win with Porto in 2004.
Mourinho’s obviously more tactically astute than most, but you have to ask yourself whether it’s a good advert for football when these defensive tactics (with literally no desire at all to attack) overcome the expansive football of Barca, albeit with a large dose of luck.
Some of the more recent examples I can remember of luck playing a pivotal role within The Champions League include:
  • Barca’s win away to Chelsea last season after the ref dismissed two clear-cut penalty claims
  • Terry slipping a fraction before his crucial decisive penalty v Man Utd in the final
Yes you want great players and managers at your club in-order to achieve but given the choice I’d rather be lucky than good and Morinho’s fortunate in the fact he seems to have both angles covered!

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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.

Let’s entertain!


Related Posts:

Why Barcelona Are The World’s Best On & Off The Field

The brillance of Xavi and other playmakers

Why Berbatov is great and theories on why he has flopped at Man Utd

Why Heskey shouldn’t be in the England Squad and other more deserving players credentials assessed

Why don’t more clubs play sexy like Barca?

Why the offside rules are broken and favour the attacking team

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This issue has been my biggest bug-bear since it was introduced, I know Terry’s goal today is not the clearest example of why the offside rule is b@llocks,  but it is possibly the most high profile and obviously fresh in people’s thinking. (in-fact it may not have been offside at all, but that would ruin my whole argument!).

So, to the question. When is an attacking player who is ahead of the last defender not classed as offside? This issue is more grey and blurred than that infamous  Manchester United grey tiled kit.

Quite clearly even if Drogba never touched the ball after Terry’s header, he is interfering with play as Van Der Sar is obviously conscience of his presence and uncertain whether he will make contact with the ball. Without Drogba there, Van Der Sar mind is free to concentrate on the trajectory and placement of Terry’s header without anticipating another touch. Allowing him more time to potentially save the shot.

To exagarate my stance on the issue i’ll paraphrasing one my favourite quotes on the subject: ” The only way a player cannot be interfering with play is if he’s not on the field”

I find it absolutely illogical and absurd that this rule change to offsides has been introduced. I think it’s sensible to suggest that even if a player does not interfere with play he should still be classed as offside because his position on the pitch (whether in an offside position or not) the opposition defence are conscience of him. So it effects how they behave when defending.

I’m all for giving attackers the advantage but a defender’s game is hard enough without them having to play offside, then still stay alert within a second phase of play just incase the guy who is offside leaves the ball (making him inactive) leading to the potential of any other player arriving from an onside position. It makes a mockery of the whole game.

In future I will add in more video examples of clear faults in the relation to the offside rule, if and when I manage to find them:

As it shows at 1.23 on the video below the striker who competes for the ball in the air and Gallas the eventual scorer are both offside when the ball is played.  It is irrelevant whether they touch the ball, they are influencing play. Gallas has an advantage once Henry passes it by starting in an offside position, as he is slightly ahead of the defenders to the goal, meaning  he can get in and score. The only way Gallas would not have that advantage is if the defenders moved back to play Gallas onside but that would not make defensive sense at all. Surely it is logical to suggest as soon as Gallas or the player competing for the ball in the air attempt to get the bal the play should be called offside? (Obviously i’m ignoring the 2 hand-balls as i’m arguing against the offside rule, but add the 2 hand-balls and that’s 4 reasons why that goal should not have been given, talk about luck of the Irish hey!)

Here’s a more recent clear offside goal that was given because Van Persie was judged to be inactive because he did not touch the ball despite the fact he played a crucial part in deceiving the goalkeeper.

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Playmakers are undoubtably my favourite type of players, and are the primary reason for my love of football.  Nothing resonates with me more than when a player opens up a team with a defence splitting pass, that bends around the defence straight into the path of the on-coming striker. Or that body feint that bamboozles the defender leaving just enough space to off-load a shot onto goal.

They refuse to give up possession, they are always composed when in control of the ball, and they are never fazed by hounding defenders.

Considering England are one of the most advanced football nations, I always find it confusing why we fail to create many flair playmakers. Is it because of English coaching focused towards strength and pace rather than technique, why do other nations seem to produce them players at will?  Lampard and Gerrard are great goal scorers but they lack the flair and invention that I enjoy seeing, they are more ruthless and workman like.

Some of my fav playmakers past and present would be:

1. Bergkamp

2. Zola

3. Cruyff

4. Arshavin

5. Zidane

6. Berbatov

7. Scholes

8. Ronaldinho

9. Xavi

Everyone  shouts from the rooftops about Messi and Iniesta but the real conductor at Barca is Xavi, he allows the others to take the glory while he plays in the shadows, releasing gem after gem.

In-fact he had a staggering 29 assists last season, and was the main man on the field behind one of the greatest teams in modern history, if not all-time.

His decision-making, vision and passing accuracy are unrivalled in World football.

A dedicated Youtube video of all of Xavi’s assists in 08/09 is here:

Let’s hear it for the playmaker…

  • Always playing the game 3 moves ahead of the opposition.
  • Can visualise a potential opening or passing opportunity in the blink of an eye.
  • Unlike the scorer, he does not flaunt and scream after that pinpoint precise pass that leads to a goal,  but is quiet, modest yet at the same time deadly.
  • Dictates the whole game creating openings for team-mates to exploit, and goals to be scored.
  • Cruyff  “Football is a mindgame, you play with your brain”. Playmakers are the Einsteins of football they see things others don’t, think faster and more abstract allowing them to perform acts others wouldn’t even contemplate
  • They are the beauty behind the beautiful game.

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For the opening 40 minutes Spurs looked comfortable defensively containing  Arsenal… then it all went wrong!

In attack Crouch was getting nothing but long ball ****, which is so frustrating. I mean it was so obvious it wasn’t working why did the team and Harry let the long balls continue throughout the game?


Defensively I truly think it’s purely a mental thing with Spurs, I mean pro teams just don’t concede 2 goals in the space of 2 , it’s unforgivable. Spurs did the same at Man U last season despite being 2-0 up. They completely collapse time and time again, to spectacular effect like no other team. Something is not right and I don’t think it ever will be unless they get a host of new players/characters in, as their players have done it too many times and not learn the lesson to say it won’t happen again and that they can rectify it.

Not sure exactly how to fix it, but it’s a massive problem that will mean they can’t match the top 4/5 not just purely on football terms but mentally. This was most apparent when they needed just a draw away to West Ham in order to clinch 4th in the league, which they had held for months previously and with that clinch the elusive Champions League spot away from rivals Arsenal. But nooooo not Spurs they managed to be undone by a dodgy lasagne and failed to get that paltry point.

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First thing that comes to mind as I’ve been struggling to come to grips with this for some time now. emile-heskeyWhy does this guy keep getting picked for England, one of the greatest football nations on Earth? I mean his club side Aston Villa don’t even pick him, and for a very good reason his game is extremely limited. Yes sometimes he holds the ball up half decent connecting the midfield and attack but surely that alone does not make him England material?

I would argue no other nation within Fifa’s World Top 20 would play Heskey within their starting line-ups. As he offers literally zero goal threat and for a striker that aint good!. Carew at his club side Villa offers a much better option, holds the ball up well and scores goals. Heskey can jump for headers, but not actually score them, can hold it up, but does not have the technique to play players in and lacks the instinct to get into goal scoring positions.

Only a team like England would persist in playing him as we like strong, fast physical players. Whereas the rest of the world encourage skill, flair and technique in their players from a young age.

Here is my list of strikers I would pick ahead of Heskey to partner Rooney and why.

1. Carlton Cole

Plays a very similar style of game to Heskey, leading the line for West Ham very well the last 2 seasons and, imagine this, actually scores goals. Very strong, can hold up the ball and run the channels just aswell as Heskey, while also having the technique to create chances for himself and others. He’s also impressed during his brief cameos for England.

2. Peter Crouch

Has an astonishing record of 18 goals in 35 England appearances, yes some of the goals were against some of football’s minnows, but alot were also sub appearances.  Lacks the strength of Heskey, but is more effective in the air, has better technique and is better at bring others into play.

3. Jermaine Defoe

I’m convinced he will score at least 20 goals this season and his recent performances for England are evident of how effective this guy is as an out and out goal scorer. I would say he is England’s best actual striker. As I regard Rooney as more of a creative forward. As he prefers to drop deep and dictate play.

4. James Beattie

Has been criminally largely overlooked for England despite performing consistently for some of the Premiership’s lesser teams.  Since arriving at Stoke City he has been a regular scorer. Beattie scored 7 goals in 16 games last season, that’s almost 1 goal in every 2 games for a relegation battler.  Offers just as much of a threat in the air as he does on the floor.

5. Kevin Davies

Yeah lol, but i’m serious… He’s not the greatest striker ever but he does the “Heskey role” better than Heskey! Despite not being the best goal scorer over the years, he had his best season in 08/09 scoring 11 goals in 38 games, a tally Heskey can only dream of! Like Heskey a very limited player but exceptional at attacking set pieces,  strength, holding up the ball and aerially.

Related Posts:

Why Barcelona Are The World’s Best On & Off The Field

Why Berbatov is great and theories on why he has flopped at Man U

Why don’t more clubs play sexy like Barca?

Why the offside rules are broken and favour the attacking team

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Nah but this one is different to the billions? before it. In this one I’m gonna chat random gibberish about what i’m thinking and tell you about myself. Sounds great don’t it? I think it will be a winner, unlike my Spurs team on Saturday 😦morinho-tougue

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