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Size Clearly Doesn’t Matter In Football
Footytubeblog (Blog) 2 years ago
We are often told that the Premier League is the most physical league in world football; that to survive here, you need to be of a certain physique, build and stature. However, when you look a little closer (pun unintended) at some of the league's shining lights last term, a pattern starts to emerge and one that bucks the trend of the top flight's perception around the world.

Chelsea's two best and most consistent players last season were Juan Mata and Ramires. Both have hugely contrasting styles of play - one is a creative playmaker, the other an all-action box-to-box midfielder - but what is a common theme is their relative lack of size compared to years gone by. The Spaniard stands at just 5ft 7' while the Brazilian comes in at just a shade under 6ft. Both have adapted superbly to the rigours of the top flight, Mata in particular in his first full season in England has been nothing short of superb, finishing it with 21 assists across all competitions.

Looking at Manchester City, and while Yaya Toure is undoubtedly a beast of a player, an unstoppable physical force in the middle of the park, rampaging wherever he so wants, a lot of their success during their eventual title triumph was built around the tippy-tappy styling’s of the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and later on, Carlos Tevez. To adapt an old saying and flip it on its head, size really doesn't matter; it's simply how you use it.

Smaller more stylish players in the past such as Eyal Berkovic, Juninho and Georgi Kinkladze were lauded for overcoming what was back then, an extremely physical league, and they acted as the trailblazers for today's more smaller-statured players. Now, every team worth their salt needs a diminutive playmaker. The fact that Liverpool didn't have one last term, whereas rivals for a top four spot Tottenham, Newcastle and Arsenal all did is just one of the many reasons why Kenny Dalglish's side did so poorly in the league, with Luis Suarez often found stranded up top by himself starved of the service that he's very capable of creating for someone else.

Having a player that is capable of drifting in between the lines of midfield and defence is now a crucial weapon in any team’s armoury. Going back just 10 years ago, the size of a football pitch had a huge impact on the way a game would play, but since then, the space between defence, midfield and attack on a pitch has become a lot more compacted.  The space has been squeezed, which is why smaller players, with exceptional technique and balance have come to the fore as teams seek to exploit the smaller gaps in the opposing team's defence.

The obvious example to mention is of course, the juggernaut that is Barcelona, which grinded to something of a halt this season having missed out on the Champions League and La Liga title. Cast your eye around the sizes of the Catalans starting eleven and you're likely to only find three of four players over 6ft tall. Technique knows no height restraints, but being slight of build has its advantages.

Sir Alex Ferguson likened playing against Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets to hopping on to a carousel from which it is impossible to get off safely. The emergence of smaller players this past decade as the best players in the world is a throwback to a bygone era where quality dominated size.

The 1990s in particular saw speed, athleticism and size trump technical brilliance time and time again, but football is a cyclical game and the roles have since reversed. The fact of the matter is that the Premier League is simply not as physical or size specific as it once was. In a sense, it has become more European in that regard. The blistering pace of the league remains, but the size of those involved has got gradually smaller.

Of course, there is still a place for those who excel in one specific discipline, such as the powerful Didier Drogba, the hench Micah Richards and the freakish Cristiano Ronaldo, but these are now the exception now rather than the rule. They're not obsolete, but they're not quite in the same demand as before, hence why Nikola Zigic, all 6ft 8' of him stayed with Birmingham in the Championship last season. Nobody has a real need for a huge target man who can't kick a ball properly.

Technique is the dominant specification of our era and as we cast admiring glances towards the likes of Spain and France, they are light years ahead of anything we have in this country because they had to adapt a lot sooner. Jack Wilshere, Josh McEachran and Joe Allen are the future. Composed, quietly assured and lacking the strength of players in their position in years gone by, they will all flourish in the future as the Premier League has adapted to meet the technical demands of competing with the best in Europe.

Blog by James McManus



This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
HangTime (Chelsea) 2 years ago
For me, whenever playing fifa 12 or picking as all-star team, I do prefer the smaller guys in my attack.
------------aguero--
Hazard---iniesta---hulk
---------xavi----essien-
Cole---terry---luiz---lamn
-----------cech------

So pretty much the only players who got to have a little size and height are the defensive mid and central back.

Being 5'7'' like mata is not that short. Mata can still compete with those who are 5'10'' and only have a disadvantage against 6ftplus tall players. The biggest thing is that mata plays wing or attacking mid, two positions where size does not matter as much as the other positions.
For ramirez, I remember a commentary said, "he is built like a stick. " but, he is a very strong player who can hold the ball against yaya toure.
I am 5'3''.... 160cm tall. I played at the college level in america and it was hard to compete against bigger guys. I played central mid-two things....
1. We played a 4-4-2, which means that half the defensive responsibility in the central mid is mine. Defending is definitely not my strong trait.
2. It's american soccer. Americans takes more chances, loses the ball more often, which means that I will have to fight for the ball more often. I cannot win a 50/50 ball against a 5'10'' plus guy, he can easily body me away.
You can guess it that I did not get much playing time in college. I'm glad to be back home doing pick up soccer with friends who are my height.... Hahaha. (home is still america but friends are asians like me)
Being a small player, I prefer to keep the ball and keep it simple. I hate strikers or other players on my team who try to do too much, loses the ball, and I have to run back and defend.

In conclusion, I think that smaller players excel in the attacking mid and even winger positions b/c they are more comfortble with the ball at their feet (IMO). Smaller players should not play central mid in a 4-4-2 position.

Sorry for my grammer and etc. English is my second language.



   
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