Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This is why you Fail

Andy Gray's comments that "Barcelona would struggle in the EPL as they've never played the likes of Stoke" mean one of two things. Small conclusion: Andy Gray is a fossil and we should pay attention to his opinion as much as we would John Madden's on Brett Favre's place in history or Dick Vitale's on John Calipari being misunderstood. Larger conclusion: English football is held back by attitudes like Gray's.

The underpinning of Gray's thinking is that Stoke represent a big, tough team that get stuck in and that a passing side like Barca would struggle to break them down, presumably because Stoke would push them off the ball and the referee would wave play on. (Maybe he puts a lot of emphasis on playing in the cold, not realizing that: (1) there are parts of Spain that get cold; and (2) as recently as 2008, Barca got results on the road in the Champions League at Rubin Kazan in November and Dynamo Kiev in December. It's not like the team would cease to function when the orange ball comes out, but I digress.) In other words, bah humbug to this Latin notion of passing, close control, and movement being the keys to good football; we want players who are full of piss and vinegar. This attitude is absolutely toxic on lower levels as it deemphasizes skill and emphasizes physical dynamism. If you want to know how Spain can come to the World Cup with a surplus of midfielders - Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, and Busquets starting; Cesc and Santi Cazorla on the bench, Javi Martinez waiting in the wings; and Mikel Arteta wondering about getting a British passport - and England wonder yet again why they can't put together a functioining central midfield, just think about Gray's comments.

Or maybe Andy is just a muppet.

1 comment:

klinsi said...

Interesting. As you know Michael, I recently had the opportunity to watch Gray's commentary and extended pre-/post-game analysis courtesy of British Forces Broadcasting over in the desert. His tactical analysis on a weekly basis was very different. He excoriated Liverpool (and their Spanish superstar) for their lack of movement and passing and ripped teams like Blackburn who played one-dimensional long ball tactics. Why the difference I wonder?