May 24, 2007

You have to put a layer of hype on top of a statement these days for it to make the papers it seems, which is a shame because Valdano has a point, but it's obscured because everyone will focus on Peter Crouch the shitty stick. The bit that's worth looking at here is the part picked from the third link to the top of the first : "Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct." This is shown clearly in Chelsea's victory in the FA Cup. Mourinho has said he asked his players "Do you want to enjoy the game, or do you want to enjoy after the game?" He claims he won because United allowed the game to be played precisely along the tactical lines required for Chelsea to "enjoy after the game." To be fair to Mourinho, his tactics have been different in each of the three seasons he's been at Chelsea so far and have been designed to accentuate the talent he's amassed. Squeezing the best out of the likes of Eidur Gudjonsson the first year, then moving to a lot of Cole and Robben in a 4-3-3 and this past season the focus shifted to the midfield, with mixed results, but still success - Chelsea's points haul/Goal Difference this year would have beaten everyone last year. But the financial gain for getting it right is such that you can't afford to make mistakes any more. You have to squeeze out every last percentage point of performance and some managers will decide that less attractive systems are the way to do that. The acceleration in income at the top of the table is such that a couple of seasons spent applauding pretty football and finishing fifth, could see you struggling to get back on par with the teams who have concentrated on effective football and winning games. There are very few teams with pockets deep enough to be able to do both and even fewer who can afford to fall back off the pace a year or two and still recover. I think Claude Makelele is a big, (well, 5'7"), example of Valdano's point. Makelele was allowed to leave Madrid because he was just a grafter, a water-carrier - the perfect exponent of the tactical side of the game over the flair side. He moved to Chelsea and has since been a key part in a team that has won two championships, two league cups, an FA Cup and a Charity Shield. Madrid have been without a trophy since 2002. Madrid President Florentino Perez said of Makelele : "We will not miss Makelele. His technique is average, he lacks the speed and skill to take the ball past opponents, and ninety percent of his distribution either goes backwards or sideways. He wasn't a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres." That comment about a player that Fernando Hierro called the "best player at Real." How many of Madrid's fans would nix the Makelele sale if they had the chance to go back and stop it? If Valdano had been manager of Madrid again, would he have sold him in favour of more Galactico football? So while Valdano has a point; what's happening at Anfield and Stamford Bridge isn't exactly high art, it's not shit hanging from a stick either. It's the way football is. It's a realistic appraisal of what it takes for your team to win enough games to make enough money to buy enough players to win enough games...

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:40 AM on May 24, 2007

Another old guy telling everyone 'bout "the good ole days" and how they were better. The only thing more cliche is a spanish-speaker bitching about the English style, *yawn*. This story gives us the double. You know what the 'good old days' are? The old days. Get over it. Chelsea, and their dirty Rusky are largely responsible for the recent rise in English football. They have pushed the entire EPL to spend money, be creative, and take some risks in player acquisition. This whole question of style over tactics is moot and has remained moot since its' inception circa 1872 when England drew Scotland. Players play, coaches coach, and "philosophical" pundits say inflammatory things to get their name in the paper. In the meantime the only thing that really matters is who won the game. Last night the Pool ran Milan off the pitch. They had better passing, better tackling, more shots, and dominated possession. They lost. But I doubt "the philosopher of football" will be critiquing ACM's style because, ya know, they aren't English.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 09:11 AM on May 24, 2007

I don't know enough about soccer to judge, but this reminds me of how people talked about the Detroit Pistons of the '80s, the Stanley Cup-winning Dallas Stars and the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens. Cautious, hard, defensive play will always have its detractors. What did this guy say after the FA Cup final?

posted by rcade at 10:47 AM on May 24, 2007

"Some shit... some stick."

posted by JJ at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2007

I'm new to European football in general, but how does Kaka figure into all of this?

posted by yerfatma at 12:47 PM on May 24, 2007

Arf yerfatma. I think my views on Valdano's comments are well covered above.

posted by Abiezer at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2007

If it is an especially nice stick and an especially well placed piece of shit, I would argue that it is art.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:58 PM on May 24, 2007

HAH! Hah! Hah! Valdano cries "A shit on a stick" but gives us Poop on a page!! What he is really saying is that Benítez and Mourinho aren't managing their games the way Valdano wants them to.....shkriew that! Sure Chelsea and Liverpool play it up and down. Sure they do a lot of piss passing...but it works for them. Sure it's not as complete a game as DUTCH futball...but they play to their strength, as they should. Valdano makes it sound like they play robot futball all the time...but they don't. Both Chelsea and Liverpool gave us their fair share of highlight reels this season. Valdano is usually a good read...but in this particular article...he really needs to pull his head out of his attitude. And I have to agree with Joey Michaels

posted by True Blue at 05:07 PM on May 24, 2007

I agree Valdano is usually right in his assessments. However, someone at the club must have been responsible for selling Makelele and replacing him with...Thomas Gravesen. There's been persistent rumours and stories that Raul determines who goes and who stays, including managers. Besides, it was Milan under Arrigo Sacchi who actually invented the 4-4-2 pressing game that almost everyone now plays, not the Brits.

posted by owlhouse at 05:57 PM on May 24, 2007

If it is an especially nice stick and an especially well placed piece of shit, I would argue that it is art. Some darn nice sticks... ... and the tools with which you may design your objets d'art. (I knew one day that knowing that link would come in handy. Sort of.)

posted by bobfoot at 10:11 PM on May 24, 2007

bobfoot, you are my hero.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:16 AM on May 25, 2007

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