The eminent football snobs have been out in force recently and it’s starting to stick in my craw a little. Football Snobbery grew in stature and self-righteousness with the dominance of Barcelona last decade and they have refused to abate any with the slow decline of the afore-mentioned team.
By Matty Lawrence.
‘If it ain’t “tiki-taka,” then it just ain’t football.’
These people may not come out and say it quite this blatantly, but they sure as hell allude to it with just about every word that tumbles out of their mouths. How blinkered do you have to be?
Leicester City have just won the English Premier League (sorry to patronize you, but at least one of you must be inhabiting Mars) playing a style of football so far removed from “tiki-taka” that these snobs probably deem it unfair…….
“They run around too much and don’t allow the other team any time on the ball”
“Surely it’s against the laws of the game to win that many matches with so little possession?”
“Why do they rely on counter-attacking and/or a quick ball over the top of the defence so much?”
“They even appear to lack any superstars, or egos and genuinely seem to like each other.”
Now, I may be paraphrasing slightly, but more than one of the above quotes has already been leveled at Leicester City. Look, I’m not one of these foolish bandwagon jumpers. I appreciate the media-centric world in which we live and understand that every next achievement has to be the BIGGEST and the BEST.
The media making out that LCFC winning the league was akin to Jesse Owens, Mark Spitz, Clough-era Notts Forest, the original Wimbledon FC and Kaiserslautern’s achievements all rolled into one. Whilst Jamie Vardy knocked down the Berlin Wall (artistic license) is just a modern day problem.
The real fact is that Leicester won the league against all the odds (about 5,000 of them) and it is a feat that will be talked about for decades to come. And guess fuckin’ what? The title was won without one semblance of “tiki-taka” football.
Why? Because if they had have tried to play like that they would have had their behinds tanned at every turn. Bbarring when they went to Villa Park, of course. My point is thus: football is a sport with many facets and many styles, so please hand in your snobbery in at the door.
Arsenal have tried a style of “tiki-taka” football for the last decade, or so. Wenger and his players have turned it into a losing masterclass. To win any sport you need heart, desire, endeavour and a helluva lot of skill. Just make sure that the style of play you choose suits your players and your team. Let’s stick with the English game for a little while.
Take a look at MK Dons of the Championship. Karl Robinson, their manager, is a highly-talented up-and-coming coach that will move onto bigger and brighter things. I’m just a little worried that Robinson can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve watched a great number of MK Dons games in the last couple of seasons. I have seen the team rise up through League One and reach the Championship.
This season they fell woefully short of the mark and have, subsequently, been relegated. MK Dons have only scored 38 goals in 45 Championship games this season. MK Dons have only won two games away from home in 23 all season. What I can guarantee is that they have played a “lovely brand of football.”
I saw it in League One and I saw it again in the Championship this season. My position is that at some point you may have to change your “brand” of football, or footballing ethos, to actually prevail and win games. As a fan, firstly I want to win games and then we can worry about entertainment: the trees keep getting in the way of the damn forest!!
I believe that this season has been excellent value for disproving the football snobbery theories. Take a look at Sean Dyche and Burnley Football Club for instance. Maybe they haven’t quite been vilified, but their style of play, and ability to eek out results in tight games, has led to Dyche and his team being questioned. They have gone the last half of the season unbeaten for goodness sake: what more do people want?
“We went 22 unbeaten. How many of them did we not play well in? You can’t play badly in all of them, can you? We’ve done it with the old-fashioned 4-4-2 that Leicester have won the Premier League with. That’s ironic, because it is so old-fashioned, apparently.”
I love the above quote from Dyche.There-in lies part of the problem of the football snob. They sometimes struggle with things that are deemed a little old-fashioned. Where do the four revolving No.10s fit into a 4-4-2? Burnley, like Leicester, had an immensely successful campaign built on the back of hard work, desire, endeavour, great management and swathes of skill.
Take nothing away from “tiki-taka” football. Boy did it suit the Barcelona side that came to the fore a few seasons ago. Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and friends were a joy to behold. That Barcelona side was a joy to watch playing that style of football because it suited them to a tee. Others it does not.
Look at Atletico Madrid.
They have just swept aside the two favourites for the UEFA Champions League, in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with a mixture of high intensity, dogged, defensive and resilient football with a touch of world class finishing thrown in. Atletico now battle it out with Real in a Madrid derby to see who is crowned Champions of Europe.
At the San Siro in Milan in a couple of weeks time leave your football snobbery at the turnstiles and behold a new world. Every team has to find the right style of play that best encourages them winning games of football. 78% possession and 38 shots on goal has never won anything.