Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The Song Remains the Same - yet another update

Sometimes the lofty derision of the SBS tirades is annoying enough to stir even a former employee into an acerbic response:

Like a petulant child disdainfully fingering at his dinner, picking out the bits he doesn’t like, these football fashion bores believe there is a massive debate going on about style.

There isn’t - only a lecture from one dogmatic corner, which brooks no counter perspective, and feels the need to impose their views - relentlessly - on everybody else.

Now, Mr. Hill, who could you be referring to?

To my mind, falling back on the old "long ball" shibboleth misses the point about the football played in the A-League, and why it has frequently failed to entertain in recent times. It's far more a question of managers being willing to attack, to commit players forward in numbers, to take a few risks.

There was plenty of passing (or rather shuffling) the ball along the carpet during the closing stages of the last World Cup, but much of the football was unspeakably turgid. And this had plenty to do with five-man midfields constantly stifling each other, ensuring that the ball rarely reached the forward line (or rather, the forward).

I just wish that managers in the A-League were more interested in playing football than stopping the opposition from doing so. It's a delicate balance, of course, but the trend towards focusing on harrying and blunting opposition attacks at birth (while standing around like Brown's cows once possession is recovered) is what needs to change, if anything.

It just need to be said... The long ball from the back is VERY attractive if it is accurate and deftly trapped by the target man. I love this when I see it. There's a difference between a beautiful long pass and a lottery kick.
methinks the sbs crew has forgotten what it is like to be a fan.

to win or draw a game that your team had no business being competitive in. tis a beautiful thing.

if you were a CCM or AU fan you probably had a blast last weekend. purists be damned.

the only question i am interested in nowadays is whether something is effective or not.

...The long ball from the back is VERY attractive if it is accurate and deftly trapped by the target man. I love this when I see it....

Hankering for those old Ognenovski-Kruse combinations, eh Hamish? ;-)

...the only question i am interested in nowadays is whether something is effective or not....

I've still got one foot in the SBS camp in so far as I'd rather see the team that's played the more positive, attractive football take home the points, other things being equal. But this facile notion that "ball along the ground equals good football, ball in the air equals ba-a-a-ad" is blinkered and limiting.
i remember a couple of years back ... i was an arsenal fan at the time and there was this champions league tie against CSKA moscow.

and arsenal did everything but put the ball in the net. 20 or 30 shots on goal.

cska had 3 shots on goal and one went in.

i think that game had a big impact on my thinking about football.

maybe that was the moment when i decided to not argue with the result. never to say that one team deserved the win that it didnt get.

the team that is more attacking, yet incapable of putting the ball in the net is held back by its deficiencies. and i don`t know if those deficiencies should be forgiven.

Clayton, I agree with you about 76.4%. From a fans point of view, you're entirely right of course.

Another point of view is that of someone who specifically wants to see the game grow in an environment like Australia where, frankly, we still can't take such growth for granted.

I often take people to games, to share my enthusiasm. I know I can't expect them to become a Roar fan or a Socceroos fan unless they actually become seduced by the game itself.

A direct observation is that the 'attractive' type football that Mike and the SBS crew talk about is the type of football that makes newcomers go, "Wow, this is cool to watch." (Though as I said I also think accurate long passes that are beautifully trapped are very attractive). Roar vs Celtic was a good example even though the local team got thrashed. A game of lots of long balls, that are basically defensive lottery balls, just doesn't have the same 'wow' factor.

Actual fandom doesn't come for a while I reckon, Even for myself it took time to really feel like a Roar fan. First people have to be convinced by the game itself.
Anyone ever stop to think that it's about culture and not style or results?

ie: it doesn't matter the results or the style, someone that likes the game and supports that team will do so regardless.

I know several people that are die hard bunnies fans and will never miss a game despite the bunnies playing rubbish league basically every year for about 20 years and playing a largely unwatcheble, IMO, game in rugby league.
"But this facile notion that "ball along the ground equals good football, ball in the air equals ba-a-a-ad" is blinkered and limiting."

And where does it leave good wing play and crossing? if you listened to pundits and fans you'd think the only teams who played good quality attractive football in season 2006-2007 were Newcastle, Melbourne and Queensland I guess. Adelaide's vibrant and successful wing-play (Dodd, Spagnuolo, Owens, even Petta all impressing) was greatly overlooked, and it's a shame. I hate how short-passing-through-the-middle stuff is synonymous with all the fuss being made about improving the quality of Australia's football. That's narrow minded and ignoring the values (both in efficiency and aesthetics) of wide play.

Looking back on Barcelona's much heralded CL triumph in May, the wonderful thing about them for mine wasn't exactly the patient short passing style, but the ATTITUDE, the general strategy.

Barca looked up against it in a lot of ways in the lead up to that game, but Guardiola still identified that the best chance to win was to attack and take risks - so contrary to top level mindsets in recent times. He happily proclaimed "we will attack" right after the Chelsea semi-final despite seeing his side struggle then, knowing a few key players would be out and that the reigning champions and superb counter attackers were awaiting in the final.

Too many top teams in recent years have been more concerned with the opposition than their own attacking ability, and the most refreshing thing about Barcelona 2008-2009 was that they did not let the threat posed by the opposition take away from their own strengths. It increasingly stuck out as the season wore on and kind of made a mockery of their challengers, particularly the EPL contenders who with all their financial resources should really be the standard bearers in adopting a proactive approach.
I think this style debate from SBS has the roots in the fact that many people in Australia like watching football.

However only a fraction of football fans support the A-league while the rest watch socceroos only, or follow EPL or other European clubs, old NSL etc.

Therefore there are far more neutrals then there are fans of an A-league club. Therefore all A-league clubs has an obligation to ensure that the match they play are entertaining the neutrals and not just there to win whatever the cost to please the limited fans of the clubs. I believe this is one of the best way to expand the core fan base of the club (rather then just people who jump on the bandwagon when the clubs is winning and then jumping off when they are less successful. Results are impermanent but attacking, entertaining football can be permanent with a right coach and playing groups)

I support Adelaide Utd. I rather have them win ugly then lose playing attractive football. However all my friends who don't support Adelaide who I tried to take them to the match couldn't care less whether Adelaide wins or not. As they are neutrals even if they born in Adelaide. They just want value for money in terms of entertainment. I been to match where I seen my team win and then see my friends say, this was boring. Well that's one fan lost.

so I can really understand why someone like Craig Foster is pretty militant in the need for clubs to improve their style of play.
style, results, culture, types of play ... so many interesting things are swirling around.

more random thoughts.

Hi Hamish,

"attractive" football is one thing you can use to get people interested, and then to invest emotionally in your club, get a culture going.

other aspects that get overlooked though are community / grassroots engagement, pricing and supporter relations. and the special buzz that comes with winning that brings people along.

i get a little worried about the need to grow the game ... in reasonable doses it is a healthy thing, but thinking too much about people who are just looking for a bit of "entertainment" is bad for the health of the game methinks. some entertainment seekers become fans ...

but when basketball was riding high they were "entertaining" lots of fans. and they were gone as soon as the winds changed.

hi dasilva

same thing happens over here in japan. housewives, baseball fanatics and people from all walks of life follow the national team obsessively, but have no interest in the j-league.

and if you see some soccer mad kid on the street, they`ll have a euro jersey on. one of the champ league big guns. most of the j-league is on cable tv over here, but it seems a lot of fans get the cable packages to watch euroball - not j-league.

while its very healthy, the j-league has only captured one corner of the soccer loving market - a similar percentage of soccer fans as the a-league has in australia me thinks.

I wonder why A-League teams won't take a cue from the National Team. They played quite beautifully against Rep Ireland. It was measured, composed and varied. They've produced a number of such performances in the last five or six years.

Sure, the A-League clubs don't have the level of talent of the NT but it's something to surely aspire to and model one's play on. And their recruitement should be geared to facilitate the establishment of that style.
Wow, the national team have played a few nice friendlies. They have also played some of the most sleep-inducing, dreary football ever seen in matches where results were all-important.

The national team generally play in a way that suits the particular match, as do the A-League teams who play in a short season against evenly-matched teams and can rarely afford to lose.

To compare apples with apples, we'd do better comparing the Ireland match with this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_8MCiP21w4
Has anybody ever seen "dogmatic corner" at an actual a-league game? He seems to know very little about the league or the players, but pontificates nonetheless.
Barcelona can rarely afford to lose either, but you don't see them changing their style.

It's a matter of philosophy.
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