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Football

Communist Football

The aftermath of the pulsating Chelsea v Manchester United game produced a couple of predictable outcomes. For those that didn’t manage to view the match, Chelsea conspired to take a three goal lead over their Premiership rivals, only to somehow end up drawing the match. A great match for the neutrals, for the United fan base but not such a great result for Chelsea and their manager André Villas-Boas.

Naturally, a lot of (not so neutral) observers and Chelsea fans made match referee Howard Webb the scapegoat for the fact that he awarded Manchester United two penalties in the second half, which were duly converted by Wayne Rooney. However, the problem was not with Howard Webb.

Some commentators decided the fault lay with Villas-Boas and his inability to convey the necessary mental strength and fortitude to his players to ensure they protected a three goal cushion. Once again, the blame should not be placed at AVB’s door. There were some who blamed David Luiz and Gary Cahill for some comical defending that allowed one of the most vertically challenged individuals on the park to head in the equaliser. Wrong again.

All of these theories are all incorrect.

No, the root of the problem emerged when Daniel Sturridge ended up in the Chelsea penalty area making a “striker’s challenge” on Patrice Evra, which subsequently earned Manchester United their first penalty.

The FA Cup game between Arsenal and Aston Villa produced a challenge by Darren Bent on Laurent Koscielny that led to a penalty. It would appear that Bent had been listening to all those interfering pundits who have a problem with his “lack of contribution in other areas of the pitch besides goal scoring”. Bent should show those people the middle finger and focus on what he’s good at doing – scoring goals.

You see, football used to be a simple game and everybody knew their assigned roles. If you were a goalkeeper, you stopped the ball from going in your net. If you were a defender, you stopped the opposition from scoring. If you were a midfielder, you performed a dual role of linking defence with attack and doing some defending.

If you were a striker, your job was to score goals. When not scoring goals, strikers did not drop back into their own half and interfere in the dirty business of slide tackling and getting involved with trying to win the ball back. Strikers conserved their energy for the important business of putting the ball in the back of the net.

It’s amazing how a few short years ago, fans and pundits alike used to complain about Cristiano Ronaldo and how he “didn’t track back” during his time at Manchester United. This was simply because Ronaldo was too busy with scoring a record number of goals en route to helping his team win the Premier League and Champions League titles. Tracking back would have interfered with his primary responsibility of being a goal machine.

That’s all changed now and it is now important for everyone in the team to contribute. Pep Guardiola has continued the Total Football pioneered by Ajax in the 70’s by defending from the front. The whole team presses the ball very high up the pitch to ensure that Barcelona maintains their incredibly high possession statistics.

Other teams in the Premier League have cottoned onto this nonsense and it’s no longer unusual to see the likes of Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey in their own penalty area contributing with defensive duties. Another popular addition to the roster is the non-scoring striker/winger – e.g. Dirk Kuyt or Ji-Sung Park.

What needs to happen now is a return to the old school. Forget about this communist football where everyone is expected to contribute all over the pitch.

Let the strikers strike. End of story.

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About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Communist Football

  1. Coming from a rugby background I’m inclined towards Communist football. :-). I see ur point, however.

    Posted by mmatu | 08/02/2012, 09:03
  2. Dude I agree that this “tracking back” nonsense is not the way football needs to be played but I must take issue with a few of your conclusions regarding Sunday’s game. Howard Webb made some very poor decisions which gave Manure the momentum to go from 3-1 down all the way back to level. The penalty decisions, like Chelsea’s defending, were comical indeed. On various other occassion Mr Webb waited for cues from the Manc bench, on-field louts, and even their travelling hoards before making a decision, sometimes waiting 5 seconds (an eternity in football) to be sure he hadn’t misunderstood the instructions he was receiving. That said you dont give up a 3-0 lead so ballocks to Chelsea!

    My main issue with you sir is the throw-away line about total football and equating that to the now infamous tracking back. I believe that equating total football as practiced by the gentleman of Catalonia the “tracking back” as practised in Saxony is a travesty! For starters the basis of total football is that all players need to have sufficient footballing talent and skill to play in at least 2 of the broadly defined 3 roles in football, defender, midfielder, or attacker. In Saxony the core requirement is “grit” which is a loosely defined array of “traits” often characterised mostly by a zeal that is often in excess of ones natural talent to execute a given task.The second element to totall football beyond the footballing skills is the use of all of those skills across thej entire playing area, for example attacking from within ones own penalty area (and here I am NOT referring here to the long-ball to a hopeful striker 80 yards away), or defending the opponents fledgeling attack from within their own penalty area! This bears no resemblance whatsoever to “tracking back”!

    My final point is that total football is a thing of beauty, a symphony, an opera! It has the ability to lift ones spirit beyond the mundane and provide us with glimpses of what life in heaven might be like :-). British footie is much more meat and potatoes than that, it provides many with the belief that the battle is not lost until the fat lady sings and has sat on you to prove it! We love them both, and when you think about it fat ladies and operas often go well together!

    Posted by Njikaldo | 08/02/2012, 10:09
  3. Once more, a fascinating analysis of the game and match in particular between the two footballing clubs. It was enjoyable to read, keep them coming, please.

    Posted by mupamombe | 08/02/2012, 15:14
  4. Great analysis. As a Liverpool fan, I am deeply concerned at our inability to convert chances … especially at home! In the recent game against Spurs, we seemed to defend better than we had in a long time, but at what cost? Are players being brainwashed by overcomplicated game plans to the detriment of scoring goals?

    Posted by biobot | 08/02/2012, 16:48
  5. Tich, I definitely agree that Webb was not to blame on Saturday. Chelsea’s discipline was poor throughout the game, especially in nthe first half. They went into the break 1-0 up, but had conceeded 11 fouls to United’s 5. Welbeck had a legitimate penalty shout (certainly more so than the one given in the second half), and seemed to be fouling players whenever they had lost momentum.

    Chelsea also failed to “kill off” United after going 3-0 up, and had few more chances while United looked like they always had a sniff. This is the danger with “tracking back” or parking the bus in front of goal to protect a lead as it finds players like Sturridge in tough positions that they are not used to.

    In the first leg of the Carling Cup semi final at The Ethiad, Liverpool played a similar tactic to protect a 1-0 lead (at one stage playing, essentailly, a 9-1-0 formation!). It paid off, but could have gone horribly wrong, as it did for Chelsea on Sunday.

    United never really lossed their srtucture or simply threw all their players forward, even at 3-0 down, and I reckon it was this structure and compusure that got them back into, as opposed to Chelsea’s panic.

    I agree with Njikaldo in the sense that total football definitely has a place and is awesome to watch, but if you’re 3-0 up, why is your top scorer defending in your box?

    Posted by Ollie | 09/02/2012, 09:28

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