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Are You Stupid?
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
I am. Ok, I'm not really stupid. In fact, I like to think I'm quite clever. I can read and write and count to almost 100. I managed to survive sixth form college and university and I'm occasionally paid to do things involving my brain. I can hold conversations with strangers at bus stops and I regularly perform better than the least successful contestant on the losing team in University Challenge. And yet when it comes to football, I remain quite stupid.

Over the last 15 years I've watched many hundreds, perhaps thousands of games of football, and yet it occurs to me that I've only the vaguest idea of what is going on. I know the basics: I know that it's 11 vs 11 and I know that the angry man wearing the shorts (Owen Coyle), Mr Byrite suit (Villa Boas) or laughable baseball cap (Pulis) is the manager. Beyond that, I'm a bit lost. I should be an expert. If I had watched as many episodes of Eastenders as I have watched football matches, by now I would be an official resident of Walford.

Of course, I can bluff my way through conversations about football as well as anyone. One of the key social skills that any British man develops in his twenties is the ability to talk to a stranger in a pub about any given Premiership football team. (If in doubt, you can always default to mentioning Sam Allardyce. The sentence: "Allardyce has the reputation for ugly football, but look at the players he bought at Bolton: Okocha, Djorkaeff, Campo - all great ball players" will get you out of almost any awkward social encounter). Still, when you scrape away the statistics and quotes, it turns out that like many other people, I don't really know what is happening on the pitch. If I were ever invited to coach kids playing football, I don't think I'd get any further than: "Pass the ball to someone else. Don't fall over." After that I would run out of ideas.

I live if fear that my ignorance will be exposed. Imagine the scene: you are watching your team play a game of football. Your team are expected to win the game, but instead they are playing badly and losing. A friendly man with a moustache turns to you and asks you what is going wrong. You freeze. Yes, you could make something up about how the wingers aren't pushing forward enough or how the team needs a big man up front to hold the ball up, but the honest truth is that you don't know. Despite the thousands of hours of watching football, all you actually see when you look at the TV screen is 22 men running around like ants, chasing after a small round object. So you rush into the toilet, lock the door and start to cry.

Very frequently, when I'm watching football I become monumentally stupid. Particularly when watching teams who like to play elaborate tiki-taka passes around the area. After about 20 minutes, I find myself standing up, shouting at the television screen: "KICK IT. JUST KICK THE BALL. JUST KICK THE BALL HARD INTO THE GOAL!" I imagine that if I ever became a professional footballer, my main skill would be whacking the ball as hard as possible at the goal.

The thing is, I refuse to be educated about football. When a pundit on TV starts talking about the technical side of the game, I am lost (note: this is normally Lee Dixon. Alan Hansen hasn't made a technical observation since 1996). At some point the pundit will talk about the distance between the centre-halves, or the empty space between the back four and the midfield, and my mind starts to drift onto what I'm having for dinner, or just why the final series of LOST was so very disappointing. Basically, when football pundits talk about tactics, all I hear is that buzzing noise the teacher makes in Peanuts cartoons.

I've given up trying to be clever about football. It's much more fun to just let your brain go and enjoy the pretty patterns.

Blog by Greg



This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Somere (Portmore Utd) 2 years ago
Many people are like that. They know their teams and their footballers but can't seem to pay attention to to the tactical side of the game. Over the last 3 seasons I have tried to watch as many games as possible and as many managers as possible to see how they play the game different. Because of this I have gone from loving the usual English juggernaut game to the more continental style of Spain and Barcelona (not a fan of either). My favorite formation has gone from being the 4-4-2 that Manchester United plays to the 4-3-3 that Barcelona plays and the 4-2-3-1 that arsenal plays. I no longer like to see wingers running at fullbacks but rather midfielders and wide attackers passing the ball and moving in a more free form formation. I like to see attacking fullbacks which allows wide attackers to take up space in and around the 18 yard box. I now rather a short ground pass over a long beautiful pin-point ball any day (sorry scholes).
There is however one thing I can seem to understand and it's the use of zonal marking while defending
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 2 years ago
I should point out that I'm not totally ignorant of tactics - I can bluff my way through a conversation: "Well, Chelsea play a 4-3-3 when the have the ball, but when they lose the ball they revert to a 4-5-1. " That's easy enough
Redsince63 (Manchester United) 2 years ago
Nice article Greg, I think leave everybody to there own thing, i've been a football fan for 40 + years and have never really bothered with the tactics, for me its just the pure joy of seeing the game played and watching the ball go in the net add to the that the passion and love for your own club and yeah who needs more? Those who study tactics the best of luck to them, I'll stick to me thousand dreams and enjoy them till the day I drop dead !
SongkyKong (Manchester United) 2 years ago
Takes all sorts to make a world. I for one love the tactical side of football. Some argue that arguing tactics is just being pretentious but tactics and a team go together like a glove in hand. A team cannot function without a tactical plan (think Blackburn at this point of time) and a tactical plan cannot function without a team capable of carrying it out (think Arsenal's defence and a high line).

My brother's like that as well. I start talking about AVB's style of football compared to Guardiola's and he just switches off aha
Tanmay 2 years ago
Cue comments about how article is adorable but comment writer, being superior, lives and breathes tactics.    Great article btw!
LumpOfCelery (Chelsea) 2 years ago
Lol I owe you a drink my friend. Lol good prediction, good article greg
Lovecalcio (Fulham) 2 years ago
I meet too many people like you on the football pitch. It's really frustrating when you can't get an adult who plays and watches football regularly to understand simple basics that you'd want to get a child to understand. I also think that English guys are the most difficult people to enjoy a game of football with. You can explain something to them 100 times and break it down for them like a primary school teacher and they'll still just try to whack the ball as hard as they can from unrealistic positions as you said in your article. I think it's due to their ignorance and individualism as I find Englishmen to be selfish all wanting to shine without the ability to celebrate a good simple pass or an assist. That's why England doesn't achieve in any team sports. They aren't collective! English changing rooms sometimes look like an episode of Eastenders, broken down into groups, one bitching about another (probably shagging his girlfriend/wife) only thinking about their own individual progress in the team whether it takes brown-nosing the captain or the manager. Because I grew up abroad in continental Europe, I learned different habits as a member of a team. Whenever I come to a new team for a training session and go around the changing room shaking every single person's hand without ever meeting them, some players look at me as if my behavior was odd to them
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 2 years ago
Well I can't comment to the typical social behavior of an englishman, but that the english nationalteam isn't playing as a team is quite obvious even to me
Reds89 (Manchester United) 2 years ago
Even to me an Irish person, you sound like a retard Lovecalcio. I don't think you no too much though so its ok. The World Cup winning English rugby team a few years ago defeats your point. Not too long ago English football clubs had only english players and maybe the odd irish 1 thrown in for good luck lol. They also won alot off things. Your rant is just ignorance
Peteko 2 years ago
Anyway.
Really, Lovecalcio, I think you are a victim of your prejudices. Don't judge the character of people based on their nationality.

Actually some would say that "bitching against each-other" was actually invented in the "continental Europe". And it is from the "continental Europe" that some of the best examples of egoism on the pitch come mind
Sclark (Celtic) 2 years ago
There is nothing wrong with pure enjoyment; the love of the game keeps it alive. However, if you want to learn the game - coach. I played youth soccer, scored goals, had assists and won many games. I did not understand the full spectrum of the game until I was in charge of 15 to 18 players with different skill, passion, and confidence levels. The chemistry between players is paramount to the success of a team. It is not surprising that team like Man City was able to disassemble Man United's defence. David silva could have been blindfolded and still had assists in that game. He knew where everyone was without looking - team chemistry. That does not happen often, Man UTD 8 - arsenal 2, no but it does happen. Are you stupid, no. You are watching the greatest team sport know - give yourself some credit, have a pint, and remember: it is not synchronized swimming we are chatting about
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 2 years ago
This article set my focus on TV Shows. I was thinking quite a while to name just one which does explain football technicaly, does anyone? I can speak only for german TV here (Yes its boring like in your country). Mostly you see an entertainer and a former football player. Sometimes it does happen that the former football player starts to explain some actions technical or from a tactical view, but exactly then the entertainer interuppts with nonesense like "What do you thin about Gomez new haircut? " I would find it very interresting to see a deeper view of a team explained by a coach fo example, showing the tactics or possibilities with that team or players. But that's maybe to much useful content for TV. So far lets talk about haircuts
FifaXX (Napoli) 2 years ago
I was a lot like the author of this article until I started playing Fifa 10, lol.... That game will not only revolutionize your understanding of tactics and positioning, but managerial duties as well
Peteko 2 years ago
Try Football Manager 2011 or wait for 2012 and you'll see what it will do to you
FifaXX (Napoli) 2 years ago
I have friends that play it but they're so addicted I'm afraid to start...
Vishal024 (Arsenal) 2 years ago
'xactly. We can all sit around dreaming up tactics on our armchairs but we don't undrestand the true pressure and experience of being a manager. Not all of us can conduct a football team and club so efficiently, although we may think so. Pay some respect towards the work of managers in modern day football
Peteko 2 years ago
Great article Greg,

But it is not confined to football alone. Do you really want to read critics dissecting you favorite literature book? I can't stand when someone during or after a film tries to tell me how the stunt man actually realized a certain moment in the stage. ("Yeah, I get it, it was not really raining, they used a machine for it. " Ugh.)

I will tell you this, though. When I was a child, I loved those films when Bud Spencer would face some karate master, who had all the fancy moves, but then Bud would throw him to the ground with an old-time-punch in the face. Yes, tactics matter and I don't want to have those TV pundits lose their jobs, after all you need someone to start the convo, before all the experts world wide butt in. However, deep down, I'd like to believe that it is all in the hearts and minds.... And the legs of course.

Check the athletes, often splits of seconds divide champions from nobodies. No matter how good you are, there is no guarantee that your ball will go every time where you meant it to go. And even the strongest people are only up to a certain level stronger than most of people.

What I mean to say is that throw all the best tactics and the best preparation and the best players, but the game will still need to be won in the minds of the people who play. I don't think that there is a substitute to strength, courage and intelligence.common sense will do the rest.

Then go ahead you pundits! Explain to me why this and that, but no matter what a critic will say, I like a certain music because it talks to my heart and I will always take the team that fought tooth and nail to the last minute of the game, tactics and schemes be damned
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 2 years ago
It is true that if you analyse or break a beautiful thing down too much you destroy the illusion that makes it so wonderful in the first place, but sadly I am a sucker for that, I like to know how the game was won and lost but my tiny little mind won't go beyond "well 2 seasons ago Cech would not have been beaten at his near post 3 times in a game like that" or better still, "that Walcott goal agains Chelsea is everything the little man is made of in a nut shell, trips over himself, gets up takes on 3 players and some how finds his hard but fairly straight shot in the top corner.... Brilliant"
LumpOfCelery (Chelsea) 2 years ago
I have also noticed this stereotype in most conversations about upcoming matches with a noticeable underdog yet still a decent team.

"I reckon if they can score early and put *Insert Team Name* on the backfoot they can totally win. "

Imo kinda of stating the obvious.

Good article



   
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