Forums / The Stands: Intelligent Footy Debate
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Spurs, Manchester United, Real Madrid And Then Barcelona!
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Spurs are the new United.... Well not quite!

I've supported Manchester United since the days of Alex Stephney, through good times, no so good times and great times, so I think I deserve to be able to make the following comment:

Consider this:
The 4-3-3 formation gives Manchester United absolutely no wing play in a squad with so many wingers! Manchester United play the clock with a full 6 minutes of normal time still to go! These things are NOT 'The Man United Way'.

I know that football has changed and that tactics have changed but I long for and am proud of 'The Man United Way'. Even in the days when we didn't have prolific league success but were still a very good cup team, we played positive attacking football and were able to build the great fan base we have precisely because of that consistent-attacking at pace-using the flanks style of football, and not simply because of winning trophies. Our fans weren't glory hunters - they were pleasure hunters who could rely on 'The Manchester United Way'.

I much prefer 'The Man United Way' to the pass pass of Liverpool back then or Barcelona or similar clubs now. (Whilst Messi with the ball at his feet is simply intoxicating, the overly patient, occasionally probing, possession-at-all-costs square passing of Barcelona is at times dull and boring. 'The Man United Way' or 'The Spurs Way' as I might now have to call it, is IMHO the most entertaining style of football that exists!

So what is the 'The Man United Way'

1. Attacking at pace.
2. Counter-attacking at pace.
3. The use of wingers as part of an attack at pace.
4. Attacking (to the last minute) because attacking is the teams strength!
5. Play formations that back the teams strengths!
6. Playing with great determination and integrity. And most importantly,
7. Not sacrificing the teams strengths to counteract the strengths of the opposition.

It´s on this last 'way', in an effort to bring greater success in champions league, that I've observed most change. As a consequence, the entertainment value of our football has begun to suffer. If you consider what I suggest IS 'The Man United Way' then it is clear that Spurs (contender for the most entertaining team in champions league and EPL) are, for the moment, playing 'The Man United Way' but still, perhaps, lack the gritty determination of a Manchester United.

Inter won the champions league with a defensive and conservative formation and style of play. We've won the champions league playing 'The Man United Way' and we've won it playing more defensively. For me, we can't always win the champions league but we can and should always play 'The Man United Way'. Is success ultimately measured by entertainment value or silverware?

Which style of play would you describe as most successful or most entertaining?
Tony (footytube staff) 3 years ago
Well like yourself gary, being of an age? .... I have seen stepney and those other three, the holy trinity or something they're called, anyway.... I can agree with all of that, utd have lost the utd way of playing.
The birmingham game for instance, 6 minutes left to play + injury time, and ryan giggs was time wasting by the corner flag, and lost the ball, whats all that about?
I remember utd hammering away at teams at that stage of the game, not time wasting, hitting long balls, ball watching, and giving up possession.
Fergie must not trust this squad, no matter what he says about it, and their chances of winning anything, because I can't remember ANY utd team adopting those tactics
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
It's interesting that perhaps the worst thing that could happen (well maybe not the worst thing) is that United win EPL and champions league and therefore continue to play in this way.... Scary thought!

To see Giggs - the best counter-attacking player in the world for many years - timewasting is *!*!
Tony (footytube staff) 3 years ago
If we continue to play like that we will win nothing mate, we have been lucky thus far, then again the other teams are no better, so we must be the best of a bad lot.... Lol
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 3 years ago
United still have that ability to win a match. United players still seem to go out believing they should & will win simply because they are the great Man Utd. Other teams really want to beat them but there always seem to be that doubt lingering, are we really supposed to beat Man Utd...
Tony (footytube staff) 3 years ago
Well we have been there for the taking in recent weeks, and surely our only way is up, as we have been s**t up to now, apart from the liverpool game, and community shield, I can't remember too many other good performances.
If we can on any kind of run, we'll be hard to stop, but so far we have been lucky
Eric (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Agreed on all counts. Though I was thrilled with the performance today.... Giggs more than made up for the previous performance (seriously, that finish was a stunner). I will say though that for me the only reason that the Spurs are exciting to watch, is because of Gareth Bale. I just think back to that Inter Champion's League group stage match and smile.... That really was something else, even though they lost the game. I had a huge smile on my face at the end all thanks to Gareth. Beating the best keeper in the world 3 times with, let's face it, the same shot 3 times after blitzing past a slow Inter defence.... Though he makes anyone look slow, even Rafael in the last United match and he's no slouch. Really exciting play. Even that United match was exciting, though scoreless
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Over the season so far United have played about 180 of entertaining, attacking football and a whole load of minutes of scrappy but successful wit a further 90 minutes of lucky/desperately hanging on football. The good thing is that the hanging on football was early in the season and the entertaining football is more recent so it does seem like United are progressing in terms of style of play. When Valencia returns we may see the style of play improve even further.

On the whole I think Rafael has done really well against Bale especially as Nani is not the most reliable at tracking back and often leaves the right back exposed. Bale is great to watch but I give Spurs more credit than just depending on Bale they have a creative attacking team and formation that amongst other things gives Bale the time and space to do what he does. Bale, Evra and Giggs in the same squad.... Just a nice thought!
RealAnimalz (Real Madrid) 3 years ago
@ Eric, Julio Cesar is good but he's not the best keeper in the world, that title still goes to Buffon or Casillas
Mixtaplix (Arsenal) 3 years ago
I've always loved the fluidity of Arsenal's passing game. Their posessions skills have always impressed, as has their offensive attacks. It's what drew me to them years ago.
It is also probably the most frustrating, infuriating and hair-pulling footy to watch when it doesn't work right though...
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Yeah, I have to agree that, under Wenger, Arsenal have played an attractive possession oriented style of football. For me, more attractive than Barca and, at present, Manchester United. However, Spurs games are just great fun to watch.

I've dealt more with Arsenal's style below
FootyRulz (Chelsea) 3 years ago
Yeah they a kind of a more attractive version of barca except for like you mentioned above ends up in disaster if you don't get it right
Donnchadh (Liverpool) 3 years ago
As much as I love the position of winger, running all the times, always giving defenders hell, my favorite style of football has to be Barcelona. I think you had the best of both worlds in Ajax and the Dutch national team in the early 70s, total football with high pressure, Cruijff on one side of the pitch and Johnny Rep on the other making defenders look like they're standing still. Those teams never stopped attacking and they were always trying to play good football, never letting the opponent have any space and just passing the ball beautifully. Plus they had that straight forward way of thinking in the wide areas that you are talking about.




Those teams certainly fit most of your criteria as well. Especially numbers 6 and 7, illustrated in their loss to West Germany in the final. They would loved to pass the ball and build the attack, but they were also capable of attacking like lightning. Steal the ball high up the pitch, and counter so fast, one or two passes then the ball is in the back of the net. Barcelona you say is boring at times, they are probably boring the opponent as well, then bam, they attack and they score.

Right now I think Barca is the best team to watch, although Spurs are immensely entertaining as well. Barcelona I think is just magnificent, and there is never a boring moment in a match, for me, when I watch them. The way they move the ball it is like they are telepathic, no what the other is going to do before it takes place, maybe Guardiola has them mind reading during training haha. Watching the Messiah, and Xavi, Iniesta, Dani Alves it's just football heaven in my opinion, modern total football.
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I have to admit I was/am a big fan of Total Football. Thanks for the video. I don't see where Barcelona are even close to Total Football. They do move the ball very comfortably and with patience waiting until they can make that killer pass which is no longer a square pass but a forward pass to runner - this is very effective but their patient passing attacks are not as effective as they might seem. Almost inevitably it's Messi's dribbling that really creates some space and also makes their attacks more entertaining
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I'm grateful Barca have Messi but Spurs are just outright fun to watch
Joeymac (Manchester United) 3 years ago
You said it yourself gary- I think that they way manchester united used to play is the most successful and entertaining way to play football.
Constant attacking, wide play, not a lot of useless long balls, good crosses, the like

I also loved to watch germany this past world cup. They were always dangerous and could counter-attack in the blink of an eye
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I think many supporters of the game of football enjoyed Germany's refreshing style of play
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
The Dortmund v Bayern match, although at club level, was also a good advertisement for German football. It was competitive, there was good passing and build up play, but not an over-emphasis on possession at the cost of goal scoring opportunities
HangTime (Chelsea) 3 years ago
Defence win championships. Don't work in the total football style. Teams are not trying to outscore a team by a few goals anymore. One goal is enough to win
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
Man you must love boring football
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
HangTime - you sound like you developed that argument/defence supporting Murinho's Chelsea. But in all seriousness Manchester United have won numerous championships by outscoring opponents and not by out-defending them or by out-keeping-possession-of-the-ball them
HangTime (Chelsea) 3 years ago
JustGary- I'm not actually saying that Man United play big defence only. I'm talking about soccer in particular. And no, I don't support Murinho's Chelsea team back then bc I did not start following the premier league until after he went to Inter.
Kimaway17- Soccer is actually boring to watch unless you're watching your favorite team playing then you'll have something be drawn into. Playing soccer is a different story though
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Yeah, I know it's a comment on football in general and it's one that is, sadly, accurate. But winning without entertainment will eventually turn into losing!

You make a fair point as United's success over the years has definitely been contributed to by having a good quality, settled back four and disciplined wingmen who track back and defend.

I watch football teams that I don't support all the time and find many matches to be drama filled and entertaining and that's why we want to see ambitious football.


Maroon45 (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Defence wins championships? Attacking, fluid and clinical play wins championships. While being strong at the back is very important, how many major trophies has Greece won? Bar that fluke Euro 2004 championship, they're defence-first style of play has been shown to be far too pedestrian
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Maroon this is a very good point. It used to be the case that defence could win championships, especially in Italy. It was for this very reason that the 3point system for a win was introduced and the 2 point system discarded. Today, its about measured or tactical attacking, if I can use such a phrase
Juno (AC Milan) 3 years ago
I remember fondly of the Manchester United of 90s and the gungho way they play is very similar to the current Spurs side. Primarily, such tactics are suited to 4-2-4/4-4-2 variations, as such Spurs of 2009/2010s are playing like the United of 1999/2000s.

Yet, we must remember why Ferguson ditched the 4-4-2 in favour of 4-3-3. While they were thrilling the fans worldwide, they were also failing to achieve continental success. English teams of 90s frequently loses out to the Italians simply they are tactically naive then. After 1999's success, but Ferguson has already noticed how often they were chasing a game. And in the aftermath of the defeat to Real Madrid in UCL in 2000, Ferguson pull out all stops to change the playing style and tempo to more continental, hence embracing the 4-3-3. The results are a more consistent dominant team on the Europe front, while still winning the EPL for a number of years.

While we are still enticed and mesmerized by this kind of football currently carried on by Spurs, the clubs in contention needs to figure out which one is better for them. For Manchester United, switching the tactics has allow them to induce tricksters in the likes of Ronaldo and Tevez into the play. If 4-4-2 were to slow down due to multiple stepovers, then they will be overrun in the midfield in no time if they are up against 4-3-3/4-5-1 variations.
For Spurs, using such gungho methods allows the players and club to reach the higher tier of football faster. And for Spurs, they are lucky that Redknapp is a natural reactive coach, able to spot the problems on the pitch in time to make rectification, hence saving Spurs a number of times with the correct substitution or instruction.

Myself, I favored Barca's possession based football.
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Thanks for your comment Juno. I agree with everything you've written. As I mentioned above, in 1999 Manchester United were able to win champions league with the 444/424 formation. Even though the final wasn't a great footballing match, Man United were the best side in the champions league that year and they played exciting, entertaining football during the competition. Of course they have been able to win champions league since then playing with greater centre midfield presence, a slower attack, more time in possession and less wing play - BUT ONLY ONCE. So IMO both styles have been equally successful on the European front in terms of trophies.

Without checking the results and just based on my memory its seems like they have been more consistent in champions league but, I would add, not more threatening! Either way, consistency has NOT translated into more champions league silverware but it has probably translated into more semi-finals and finals.

In sports training (especially basketball) one of the concepts of 'intensity' is to be able to reproduce/execute skills at speed or with pace because this gives you an added advantage. If two persons have similar skills but you can do your skill quicker, stronger, higher, etc then you have an advantage and this is the threat of a quicker, wing-oriented442/424 style of play. The down side is less control of possession and less central midfield presence.

I genuinely think that Barca's possession based football works because of Messi's dribbling threat and the resultant spaces that appear in defences as they try to cover his threat and not really because of the emphasis on patient possession.

From a tactical perspective Manchester United can get to the semi finals and finals almost every year but will always have difficulty beating a Barcelona at their own game. Conversely, there is no team in the world, including Barcelona, that can cope with Manchester United´s attack and counter attack at pace
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
If United go back to play the United way they can beat Barcelona. Just play high defence and do a quick counter down the wing. The left back and the right back are not that good in defending so you could beat Barcelona or Madrid if you go back to the United way. And in 1999 you were second in you group drawing 4 games
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Kimaway, natrually, I agree that Manchester United have to go back to The United Way to beat Barcelona on a regular basis.

Yes, United were second (in the group of death) but my point was that they played great football. Two (2) of those four draws were against Barcelona. I was at the Old Trafford match and it is still by far the best match I've ever seen live. Barca were incredible (especially Figo but United's way of playing meant we were always in the match - enough said!

Anyway thanks for giving me the opportunity to post these two videos as evidence of: the quality of entertaining football; why those draws were like wins; one of the best ever champions' league goals; and why Manchester United need to play positive football to beat Barcelona on a regular basis.

Manchester United vs Barcelona 1999 champions league.




Barcelona vs Manchester United 1999 champions league





Juno (AC Milan) 3 years ago
Do remember you wrote this: "its seems like they have been more consistent in champions league " - this means financially more consistent. Before 1999, they have been struggling to get out to quarter-finals, and never make it past then.

1999 games with Barcelona resulted in 2 3-3 draws and Barca haven't been playing with the swagger they are doing now. I'll be happy to watch Man Utd of 1999 play the Barca of 2010. But Man Utd will struggle like the final of 1999 because of the inability to dominate midfield.

And the hardest thing for 4-4-2 is not to replicate the wing plays, but to find two telepathic front 2 who can know each other inside out. Cole and Yorke, Rush and Dalglish are a rarity nowadays. The most telepathic front 2 are with Liverpool now, yet they can't find or develop a decent winger.

However said, the style is indeed one of the most entertaining for football. Anything is better than anti-football for me
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
Consistency of financial returns via champions league is a really good point and an important consideration. However, its also true that Manchester United built up a massive fan base without any European consistency but JUST by playing attractive football at the top level. They have always had the biggest attendances in England. Even when Liverpool were dominating the national league and Europe, Manchester United were getting almost 50% more attendance with huge waiting list from that day until now.

Of course United would struggle but so would the current Barcelona defence. United would score and Barcelona would score so the question would simply be who would score most.

Rooney and Berbatov (when they get to play the front two roles and have support from wide play) have really looked very good - the telepathic understanding type of play you mention.

The truth of matter is United always give the opposition chances by their style of play - we win some we lose some but the alternative was what happened between Inter and Barca. I would be devastated if United started playing like Inter on the basis of champions league consistency and silverware success.

The more teams play this way the duller the 'entertainment product', which is football, will be. Fundamentally, we must always remember that sport is a subset of the entertainment industry. In general and over time if its not entertaining its not good business. Winning the champions league every year by playing a 5-5 formation and then going to penalties might be good business for a season but over the medium to long term it would cause an erosion in fan base and therefore sponsorship
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
Well I loved the way Germany played at the World Cup. Their quick counter attacking football that gave them 16 goals or so. I also love Holland in the 2008 world cup. Their style was very nice to watch and brought quiet alot of goals. But at the moment the kings of sexy football goes to Spurs
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 3 years ago
I think Johan Cruyff's Barcelona dream team of the 1990s was amazing! They were even better entertainment than today's Barca and probably just as good. I watched most of their matches in those days and can suggest you all search for videos, with Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Romario and others! I'm still a fan of Barca these days....

As for Tottenham, I loved the way we played in the 1980s with Hoddle, Ardiles, Archibald, Crooks and many others. Later throw in the likes of Lineker, Sheringham, Gascoigne, Klinsmann and others. I wrote in my profile when I first joined footytube almost a year ago, that the current team have the potential to go even further. It's a great thing our players are enjoying each other, they seem to love playing for Spurs (in stark contrast to what we've seen at teams like City). Can we throw in a title somewhere in the mix, I think we'll manage to keep our best players and attract others to come. We're due another FA Cup soon, so that's a possibility, while we keep dreaming about the EPL and Champions League....
Northstream (Tottenham Hotspur) 3 years ago
I have also been impressed watching United over the years. They've had some incredible star quality and SAF at the helm as the ultimate manager. They're lacking on various points this season but as soon as Rooney gets the right service and starts putting them away again, they'll be on a roll. At this stage though, we should absolutely beat them at White Hart Lane next weekend! With or without Beckham.... !
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
Well most people might think I am crazy but I see spurs in the final of the Champions league. And you can win the league soon
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I also think Spurs have a good chance because of the way they play but it's also true, just like Man Utd in the past, that Spurs might get knocked out by a possession-keeping team if that team scores first. I would love to see a Spurs vs Manchester United final - I know it would be a great advertisement for football
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
That would be an excellent final. I think that it would be a very open game. Maybe 2-1 to United. But it would be very xciting
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
So Spurs vs Manchester United is the next fixture. It's interesting that no one is predicting a 0:0 draw nor is anyone predicting a 1:0 victory. The vast majority of observers expect goals. I expect goals as well as an open, competitive match with good attacking football. It will be interesting to see which team lays claim to the style of play we've discussed
Marcinny (New York Red Bulls) 3 years ago
I am certainly not missing this one
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
Spurs vs United is going to be a great game. It is going to be very open. With lots of goals
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
For some it was a disappointing 0:0, for Harry Redknapp it was a "really interesting game without being a classic"
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
All four of the teams mentioned in the thread title are still in the Champions league as well as several others. Barcelona are favourites but it will be interesting to see which style of football turns out to be most successful in the champions league. I would like to group the last 16 teams on style of football (and maybe formation) can anyone help. So far got

With a lot of attacking down the wings and more direct attacks.
Spurs
Manchester United
Real Madrid (Tentatively)

With and emphasis on possession and ball movement and patience in attack
Barcelona
Arsenal
FootyRulz (Chelsea) 3 years ago
Unfortunately things have changed. Beautiful football will not always will you matches any more. You can play the best and style of football there is but at the full time whistle it's the result that matters. Mourinho's tactics may not exactly be entertaining or anything but he has managed to win a trophy with every club he has managed in the last 8 years. Also the last 2 winners of the world cup didn't exactly play the most attacking attractive football but they got the job done and that was what mattered in the end. I'm not trying to say that I hate attractive style football, in fact I love watching attractive football but I'm just trying to say I'd rather watch my team grind out a result rather than play amazing but lose. And don't think I'm trying to imply that attractive football guarantee's you a loss because it doesn't
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
I understand and appreciate your point of view. I think as trophies become more regular you might then focus more on the way they are won. I definitely want to win trophies but for me the style of play is more important for two reasons. 1. You can play attractive and win which is just the best feeling in the world.... Well almost. 2. You can't always win trophies but when you don't win you are still left with being entertained as opposed to losing and also not being entertained. Remember sport is first and foremost part of the entertainment business
FootyRulz (Chelsea) 3 years ago
I totally agree with you especially with number one as we (chelsea) kind of showed that last season
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
It's also worth noting that some people argue that Morinho's dismissal at Chelsea was more to do with 'the style of play in being successful' than lack of success, even though there was no champions league trophy. So the way teams win can be very important to fans, players and managers but also to owners
Zlatan94310 (PSG) 3 years ago
The most effective way to get goalscoring opportunities is to stretch the back four, making them leaving spaces and losing their shape.
So, attacking down the wings is a very good option
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
This is a key point and wing play is especially effective when the back four have to be running toward their own goal and defending as well!

I think there is just a lot of attacking footballers who just don't have the skill to get to the by line and make a good cross
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
The thing I hate about 2day games is that its more on tactics. I wished that managers could go all out with a nothing to lose mentality like Ian Halloway. That is why Blackpool is one of the best sides to watch in the league
HandOfDog (Plymouth Argyle) 3 years ago
Hollowords has a nothing to lose mentality because Blackpool have nothing to lose lol, just as he likes it, as he has himself admitted. Pity any 'big club', with respect, that has a decent amount of dough to throw around, that in the future may see him as a manager for them. His mental & emotional stability, as far as management pressure is concerned, is highly suspect in my opinion. But then I am a Plymouth fan lolol, thouugh that does make me qualified to say this I suppose
FootyRulz (Chelsea) 3 years ago
Well apart from the style of play I really like his attitude. When decisions don't go his way in a match he tries to see the funny side of it in the post match interviews. He is a very optimistic person and inspires his players to get the best out of them. Many pundits predicted blackpool to finish with the lowest possible points but they have shocked everyone. Last night they almost got a result that would have been considered absurd 7 months ago against Man utd
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
It's amazing how much support there is for Ian Holloway and he style of football he's promoting when you look at other forum threads
Mongol99 (Real Madrid) 3 years ago
Realmadrid from 2003 through 2006 is the most entertaining football and it was like orchestra
FootyRulz (Chelsea) 3 years ago
Los galaticos up until 2003 (I think you got you date wrong) were unstoppable because of their amazing team until makelele left. Funny how most people think attractive football comes from having the best attackers when it usually these players like makelele and xavi are the engine of the team's success
Kimaway17 (Liverpool) 3 years ago
So you think more entertaining than Barcelona now and Spain?!?!
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
How would you describe Real's formation and style of play in footballing terms during this period?
JustGary (Manchester United) 3 years ago
In what I can only describe as an absolutely fantastic interview, Xavi makes it clear that he wants to win but believes it is more important to play in a manner that leaves a legacy!




Some of my reflections from reading this article:

1. My whole reason for starting this thread was the discussion between 'playing in a style to leave a legacy' and 'playing in a style, solely, 'to win'. I'm glad Xavi and I agree - legacy leaving is the absolute best!

2. I have a greater appreciation of the philosophy behind Barcelona's current style of play.

3. Interestingly, for those persons who don't see any demerits in Barcelona's approach, Xavi clearly acknowledges that Barcelona's style of football can lead to "boring" football if the other team just play with a defensive manner.



   
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