Forums / The Stands: Intelligent Footy Debate
Order: Newest / Oldest
Would It Bring An End To Anti-Football?
Footytubeblog (Blog) 4 years ago
Chelsea’s open top parade bus was perfectly at home on the streets of London following their victory in the Champions League. It’s a bus, that’s it’s place. It certainly had no business being on many of Europe’s battlefields on their road to the Champions League final—at least that’s the view of the football purists.

But Chelsea’s ability to take their chances in front of goal—and there were very few—equated to the team ‘parking the bus’ against some of the continent’s most impressive attacks. For Chelsea, it was the only way they knew how to win—a backs-to-the-wall performance of discipline and bodies thrown in front of shots. For lovers of attractive football, it was a stain on their beautiful game.

I’ve spoken in the past about the need to enhance the game to fit with the current climate and the necessity to keep things fresh. The notion of scrapping away goals might help things on some level to abolishing anti-football, but it’s never as clear cut as that.

The term anti-football is a little ambiguous, but we’ll get onto that. English football loves the victory of the underdog and the ‘giant killings’ of domestic cup competitions. But that’s the nature of this country and the culture we’re used to. Chelsea’s many heroic performances in the Champions League are just that—heroic. But that’s from an English perspective. They’re not so drawn to that level of thinking in other parts of Europe.

It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what football fans really want from their teams. Aesthetically, is there a drive and a need now for attractive football? What about clubs like Blackburn who ditched Sam Allardyce’s way of thinking for something a little less “boring.” Barcelona have certainly set the benchmark for this generation and you can’t take away fans’ desire to see something as graceful a little closer to home. But then there’s that tricky balancing act of combining attractive football with winning football. At the moment, it’s evident how difficult it can be to strike that equilibrium; Arsenal and Chelsea are some of the better examples of that.

But then that leads to the argument of away goals and anti-football. For most teams it’s easier to simply stick 11 players behind the ball and wait for a counterattacking opportunity. That’s their nature and it has been the makeup of their club for a long time. It’s difficult to see Chelsea as a fearless, attacking monster with polarising ideals of the game either side of the halfway line. They’re very good defensively and we’ve known that since the days of Jose Mourinho. But their impressive attacking ability hasn’t always been as pleasing on the eye as some may have wanted, especially Roman Abramovich. The introduction of Andre Villas-Boas did little on the football pitch in the way of results, but he certainly proved that Chelsea can’t simply be re-branded as the English equivalent of Barcelona. Quite simply, it’s one or the other.

Chelsea won the Champions League because they know how to defend and are able to make good use of their counterattacking ability against better sides. Similarly, Stoke City have become mainstays in the Premier League because they know how to play an efficient, no nonsense brand of football. Sure, it’s not what many would pay to watch on a Saturday afternoon, but if Stoke were to ditch their footballing philosophy for something a little easier on the eye, you can almost guarantee they’d be in a world of trouble.

English football loves brave defending and last ditch tackles. Essentially what those defenders are doing is preventing something aesthetically pleasing from the likes of Robin van Persie or Sergio Aguero. Does that equate to anti-football? It shouldn‘t, but on some level it does. But that’s the English way of playing the game and fans want to see that. Taking away a ruling of away goals isn’t necessarily going to stop that.

Of course, scrapping the away goals rule, especially in European competition, should encourage teams to be a little more adventurous in their approach to the game. But as the game evolves away from a ‘boring’ spectacle and onto something more pleasing, so do managers’ tactics and their ability to counteract an attacking team.

You can have as many rules in place to ensure an open, attacking game, but teams will eventually find a way to get the better of those with a higher footballing standing than them. It’s part of the reason Barcelona have struggled in recent times and it’s a lot of the reasons why Arsenal can’t seem to join the winners table. Simply, teams know how to defend against those who will see more of the ball and who are more effective with it. Chelsea’s victory in Europe was simply a showcase on the biggest stage of what is the norm in football.

There’s nothing anti-football about defending well for 90 minutes. Again, the English love that brand of heroics. Rather, anti-football is the acts of players like Nigel De Jong, who brought much shame to the Netherlands during the 2010 World Cup Final. Or even Pepe’s mission to destroy the oncoming Barcelona attacks during some of the Clasico meetings last season.

The diversity of ideals and footballing philosophy across Europe is never going to change simply by eradicating a rule of the game.

Written by Thomas Hallett

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Northgreen (AC Milan) 4 years ago
Take away the away goal rule and watch how many away teams will start playing defensive to be in better option for the home leg
BeefCurtains (Limerick) 4 years ago
Imagine that. Yet another piece designed to either:

I) justify the 'donkey' tactics that will be employed by England in an upcoming tournament

Or, more generally

Ii) continue that fine UK tradition of dragging the general standard (of whomever/whatever is in relative proximity) down to their comfort level.

On a side note, I thought this was genuinely hilarious:

"if Stoke were to ditch their footballing philosophy"

Blazzedlord (Chelsea) 4 years ago
Ffs stop saying this chelsea park the bus crap we only parked the bus against barcelona and bayern
Achiox (Manchester United) 4 years ago
I think that's the point.... Chelsea did it [parking the bus] in two vital games (much less during the final I found), when fans expected more from the team (mind you, these are not Chelsea fans, but ones who casually watch champions league and Internationals).

In the final, Bayern had plenty of chances.... If that was Chelsea "parking the bus", then what are we concerned about? It obviously didn't work, because Chelsea couldn't have done anything about all those opportunities their opponents had.

Also, why is parking the bus considered a bad thing anyways? If a team chooses to play defensively, they play defensively and that's their choice. Even Mancini's philosophy focuses on defence first. It only becomes a problem if a team makes no efforts to attack whatsoever - I remember very clearly that during an England game in the 2010 World Cup, the last 5 minutes or so - overlapped into extra time - involved Rooney and some other midfielder passing the ball back and forth in their opponents corner. THAT is parking the bus for me, when you've literally stopped attacking and just want to hold the ball still to waste time.

Parking the bus:

(Did Birmingham seriously do that against Chelsea? I mean it looks effective but those lads aren't very tall in comparison to the goal....)

Anti-football in a nutshell:

"[....] Or even Pepe’s mission to destroy the oncoming Barcelona attacks during some of the Clasico meetings last season."

Made the article for me.

Kick4Life - changing lives through football