Football Is About Results, Not Bullshit Analysis!
What actually is “the right way to play”?
In 2017, football analysis, like the game itself is mostly smoke and mirrors. The money in the game means a whole raft of employees come into clubs to analyse data, draw squiggles on charts, record kilometres covered, make sure players aren’t red-lining (yes a real term used to describe burnout) and to formulate a plan when taking on opponents.
Most of it is bullshit, simple, effective (in keeping their jobs) but bullshit nonetheless.
Take Everton against Spurs.
The visitors to White Hart Lane are a very good team, with one of the brightest strikers in the game up front in big Rom. So what did the analysis, data guys, squiggles at Finch Farm provide manager Ronald Koeman with during the week of the game to the manager?
Obviously bugger all!
It took Everton 80 odd minutes before using the big man, getting him turning and facing the Spurs goal, getting him running into the channels, and frankly scaring the life out of the Spurs back four. 80 odd minutes too late.
While Twitter was pouring out Harry Kane stats and making the latest Shearer comparisons, I couldn’t help but re-run Kane’s second goal and the question I kept asking myself was, “Do modern players only follow a script rather than use common football sense”?, and the answer most weeks I watch games is YES!
Robles gets the ball in a benign position where he is under no threat. Now call me old-fashioned but the very last ball he should be looking to lay is the one he did, to Schneiderlin, who had his back to every Spurs player, facing his own keeper with no idea what was going on behind him. Why? Was it the best ball or the ball which has been brainwashed into an increasing amount of goalkeepers, in other words, is playing out from the back, proving a team’s playing credentials more important than actually doing something to hurt the opposition? I’m afraid the answer coming back game by game is yes.
The right ball, whether you feel it’s backwards, dinosaur or old-fashioned was to do what Kasper Schmeichel did game in game out last season for Vardy and to drill the volleyed ball into the channel to get Rom on his toes, push back a Spurs side who love to press from the front (negating any threat they have in this department), keeping the big man in the game and being a pain in the arse for Verthonghen and co. It’s really that simple, but instead of doing something in-game which could have made the game much more of a positive one for the visitors, Everton fell into the trap that many teams do as a default…
they fell into the “we must play first” trap.
That’s fine if you have Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets as they are a perfect blend, honed in the biggest games, able to press, win back the ball and demolish teams, but Everton aren’t there yet, so surely utilise ALL weapons in an armoury rather than defer to a style over substance system of play which simply put, fell into Spurs lap.
You don’t need to be a genius to know that Gareth Barry, great player and servant to many clubs, isn’t the quickest, so why put yourself at risk by playing the ball out into his area when the guys he’s up against are young, mobile whipersnappers who have been pre-programmed to press high and often? It just makes no sense in logic whatsoever!
The best teams mix and match. If the two central defenders are 5 foot 10, you use a big man to beat them in the air, winning flick ons and knock downs to get you into the attacking positions to affect the game…
you don’t stick rigidly in game to a principle that isn’t working, that’s plain madness.
Football fans have been brainwashed that there is only one way to play “ the right way”, but the great teams of Ajax, Man United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Brazil all had their way, all different from each other, so where did this ‘right way” come from?
Snobbery mostly, from football writers who tried to justify their writing and musings on the game by making sure their prose was complex, sneering and dismissive of what football actually is and always should be, simplicity of thought and deed. This was then followed up by fans and then managers who felt their teams had to play in a technically and tactically superior way otherwise they would be tagged as dinosaurs or backward thinking.
The right way is the way which gets the best out of the playing staff a manager inherits or has chance to mould, it’s definitely not asking an Aguero to be a great presser of the ball or asking Gareth Barry to keep toe to toe with Dele Alli.
The reality in my eyes after watching Spurs v Everton is a single one. If the Toffees would have gone more direct, more often to Lukaku, keeping him involved in the game, keeping him scaring the wits out of the two Spurs central defenders, Everton would have come away with a positive result.
And that is what this sport is about, results, not style marks, as Leicester proved last season.