Friday, March 13, 2009

The English Are Coming

"Some people are not happy... but England has created top quality.... The standards are really high here and the ones who lift the standards should be admired, followed and copied and not be the victim of jealousy."

- Arsene Wenger, scaring the hell out of me

There's really not a lot to write about, so I'm going to pontificate.

Wenger's had a go about the global fear that English clubs are dominating Europe at the moment. He says that fame is fleeting, success is cyclical; basically, all that crap about enduring English pre-eminence with a little bit of grace because it's not going to last.

I suppose the more paranoid, xenophobic English, Top-4 football fan (and aren't there a lot of those around?) would be a bit jumpy after all the antics from FIFA and UEFA. 6+4 homegrown player rules, revamped Europa leagues, footballers in skimpy uniforms... football administration's in a bit of a shock at all this Englishness in football at present, and they're screaming out propositions without doing due diligence.

I kind of understand Blatter, though.

There's a real danger that other top teams in other leagues will see the English way of playing (getting imported technical players to play at the high-tempo, bone-jarring English speed) as the mode de jour, and ape the English. We've seen Man Utd make mince-meat out of Inter, and Liverpool destroy Real Madird, by playing technical football at a speed that the continentals can't cope with. There's a real danger that Mourinho will realise that, and start introducing a faster tempo game next year.

The problem is that Serie A clubs will be forced to follow Inter's lead, in order to keep pace. It's okay for the top three or four teams, who can all afford players of that skill level, but it's going to be hard work for the lower-level clus. They'll have to decide between slow technical players and physical players with poor ball skills. And knowing how bloody pragmatic the Italians are, we'll end up with half of Serie A clogged with Bolton-esque sides.

Now, that's fine for the Serie A, which was moribund anyway, but what if this disease spreads to Spain? If Barcelona, the most beautiful football club in the world, gets mauled by Man Utd, I'm sure a bunch of La Liga sides will start to see the benefits of a high-tempo, pressing game with physical players that can run a lot and kick a lot and not do much more besides. And that'll be a footballing tragedy.

The greatest game I've ever seen was Valencia vs Villareal. 3-3 draw, on a balmy winter's night, with a last minute equaliser and with football so beautiful it could've been played in silence and still moved me to tears. Everyone was comfortable on the ball, and everybody knew where to move. It was so amazing I'm unashamed to admit that after the game, I tore my clothes off, cried like a little girl and had "Villa for Ever" tattoed on my chest.

The thing that keeps Sepp Blatter, Michael Platini and me up at night is that, if this dominance continues, the Valencia vs Villareal tie in 2015 will end up like Bolton vs Blackburn. And no one wants that to happen.


Anonymous said...

Global warming? Come now.

Anonymous said...

weg is da man, but it's still hard to resist that other blog with the fucked rack :-)

Anonymous said...

^^ salue the bayor

Connolly's agent said...

I'll even stretch this monkey if it makes you feel at home....