37 responses

  1. ziggy
    26/05/2012

    English fans call it passion and there are still a few Arsenal fans who would prefer we played that way.

  2. Bobby Pliers
    26/05/2012

    I played schools football in the 80’s for a team in the north of England. Here is a selection of the usual advice from the touchline:-
    a) get rid of it
    b) let him know you are there
    c) don’t let him past
    d) stop fannying about (usually when taking more than 1 touch and retaining the ball – I apologise for the expression!)
    e) hit the centre forward (not literally but hit a long ball to him bypassing everyone else)

    This was English schools football for a generation. Speaks volumes really and explains a lot.

  3. Pat
    26/05/2012

    Thanks Walter and Bobby Pliers. Very revealing! And not unexpected.

  4. El Tel
    26/05/2012

    Ziggy

    There are millions more who prefer not to play that way.

    Bobby Pliers, i remember all those expressions too and this was in the early seventies. We as kids were shit scared to play football. When we were having a kick about over the park though we enjoyed ourselves more.

  5. rantetta
    26/05/2012

    My teacher shouted to one of my team-mates: “Bring him down”, from the sidelines – during a match where we were outplayed.

    I’m sorry you had to go through all that, Walter, even though that experience has undoubtedly helped you become the man you are. (Including the wet eyes experienced when reflecting on Eduardo’s Arsenal career).

    Raphael Honigstein’s book, Englischer Fussball – A German’s view of our beautiful game, offers some clues…

  6. bob
    26/05/2012

    El Tel,
    “We as kids were shit scared to play football. When we were having a kick about over the park though we enjoyed ourselves more.” Your remembrance is so moving to me. It’s what the Authorities do to play, the most natural and joyful activity. Something is surely amiss in this state of affairs, the way they steal childhood and turn it into grim normalcy.

  7. bob
    26/05/2012

    rantetta,
    if it’s at all handy and if/when you could spare that time, what are some observations from Honigstein?

  8. bob
    26/05/2012

    Is this finally getting at some of the roots of why England finally flops in international competition?

  9. Arvind
    26/05/2012

    A very sad article Walter. Even though I come from a country where football is largely a peripheral sport…its very sad that “foot”ball is a game of head tennis for so many teams.

    @Bob: Another reason for England flunking IMO is no one apart from Beckham and Owen had the guts to go out and play in another country. And Owen was largely peripheral. And it isn’t a coincidence that Beckham is largely the only English player of that generation I have any time for. Not the most gifted, pacy or steely player..from a kicking perspective…but he had a great right foot and a lot of courage. He’s played in England, Spain, Italy and the MLS and dare I say he’ll make ONE more money move before he retires. Takes guts. And I’ll never forget his free kick against Greece in the last minute. As for the rest…Duh…

  10. rantetta
    26/05/2012

    Right, Bob.
    Before I make my excuses, let me acknowledge the interview you posted a link to re: A. Wenger, given to a Mail reporter and a Times reporter. I was so taken at being able to read an in depth interview with a man I have the greatest respect for, that I kept a copy of it, from the (London) Times. (And the reason I did so was because I didn’t know that the same interview appeared in the Daily Mail). I knew I’d be unable to link/refer to it due to the Times paywall.

    You have linked to the interview via the Daily Mail, which means we can all read (or in my case, gush, over) it.

    Thank you Bob, for the original and subsequent posting(s), and please allow me to put up the links again, for those who might not have seen them:

    Part 1
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1206377/ARSENE-WENGER-INTERVIEW-The-transcript-Martin-Samuels-fascinating-meeting-Arsenal-manager–I.html

    Part 2
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1206363/ARSENE-WENGER-INTERVIEW-The-transcript-Martin-Samuels-fascinating-meeting-Arsenal-manager–II.html

    A time for excuses.
    I’ve found the book – Englischer Fussball. This was no mean feat as
    1) I finished reading it about 2 years ago
    2) I didn’t find it on my shelves (the ones where I keep books)
    3) I’ve looked for it in the meantime, without success
    4) I eventually found it – where I’d left it – in the bedroom, on the multi-junked bookshelves within.

    I’m unable to give a reasonable synopsis of the book as it’s some time since I read it, but I’ll copy a paragraph written from the book, which referred to a 1999 essay by Hunter Davies:

    “The tradition in England is the same as everywhere else – you cheat as much as you can. When the ball goes out you raise your hand, even though you know you touched it last. Players go down, especially in the penalty area, to con the ref. They push, pull, shove, kick, spit, insult. The only crime is to be caught. English players are not better than others; they’re merely less cunning and subtle. And yet the myth still exists that English players practise fair play. Only because we gave the world that expression”.

    From memory the book refers to the origins of English football, from ‘Rugby’, (or Stoke, as some would have it), relating to “class”/boarding schools/clergy, etc. The book’s first chapter is entitled, “Take it like a man: The pleasure of suffering”, and it goes on to talk about Ramsey’s injury and the related comments of Hansen and Lawrenson for the BBC, which I won’t repeat here.

    It may be that in the future I’ll re-read this book but I really couldn’t do so presently for fear of reaffirming any depressive thoughts that coursed through my veins at that time.

    Here’s another tiny snippet:
    “Players like Charlie George know what to expect on the pitch, John Sadler wrote in the Sun at the beginning of the 1970’s. In other words, players who showed off their talents so openly had only themselves to blame.”

  11. iniez
    26/05/2012

    bob,
    “Is this finally getting at some of the roots of why England finally flops in international competition?”
    Maybe that’s why they still hold onto this “culture” of being tough on the field. In all due respect to england, they have slim hopes of winning in international competitions. Maybe they see this and want to hold onto what they still have, and still have in their control, their image.

    Then again everything is relative. Many places in the world have customs I wouldn’t be too comfortable with, which says more about my openness than that particular custom. But to the english, they have this rough and tumble view of football and whether we agree or not, that’s how they like it. Only through the transition into international club football has this image of “tough” football started to vanish. Foreign influence on football in england makes these hardmen a dying breed, and of course that doesn’t sit well with many. Subsequently arsenal became the embodiment of the “foreign influence” ruining their game, thus becoming the premier league’s piñata.

    I have to say though, that I do sympathise with them, to an extent. Essentially they had a way of doing things but globalization took hold of their game and slowly choked out what made them ‘special’. I would sympathise more if it wasn’t for how dangerous and anti-football this style can be

  12. Mandy Dodd
    26/05/2012

    Think it is a big reason why England flops Bob, not only playing like that but also because foreigh refs will not put up with what our own refs do….with certain players anyway. I guess Chelseas recent exploits will give the dinosaur element confidence to carry on ..for now.

    BTW, if Engelbert Humperdinck wins the Eurovision for us, does that mean the Spuds lose their Europa place?

  13. bob
    26/05/2012

    iniez,
    I really like all of how you put your comment. What I get from it is that there’s a long-standing style of manhood that’s being threatened and the kick-back is to maintain it with a vengeance, the way they know how – to defeat the growing threat to the privileges that hard manhood used to convey without question.

  14. rantetta
    26/05/2012

    Bob
    I’ve made some sort of reply at 4:34 pm, on this page. It’s presently in moderation, so if it’s ‘passed’ you’ll have to scroll back up the comments.

    In the meantime, and, predictably off-topic, A Sp*rs fan laments:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LZDlz39BR0

  15. Shakabula Gooner
    26/05/2012

    Now, thanks to Walter, we have a sense of what may be one of the roots of the problem and that to this day, the sturdy and anti-tippy-tappy English approach/attitude to the game may still persists at the highest levels of football officiating in the country.
    The question remains: without prejudice to the English mindset, how do we get the officials to execute the letters and spirit of the law governing professional football game officiating? How do we get them to show less prejudice or bias against certain teams?

  16. bob
    26/05/2012

    Why Mandy Dodd!
    Would you be insinuating perhaps, that one, the sanctified Wayne Divemaster Rooney, might not have gone Cardless had he played in the Euro leagues? I find that a most shocking allegation, smattering on conspiracy theory, which surely has no place in these pages! 🙂

  17. Scott
    27/05/2012

    I will be as quick as possible,so bear with me.
    Australian footballers have always been known for high energy,big hearts,physical presence but not technical brilliance.
    Last year,I began coaching my sons U/5 side.
    To my dismay,I found it was all 4 a side……geez,they’ve gone soft,I thought.
    I did some research and found Brazil and Holland are two countries who produce the best technical players in the world,and have done for decades…….they have been playing small sided,small field games for decades……enough said.
    I have coached my side positional play with an emphasis on passing…..it CAN be done even at this age.
    My kids are winning 30 minute games probably with an average score of 12 or 14 to 1.
    Now,I’m no genius and was an average player,but simply by teaching the kids to keep the ball at their feet with no long shooting,and no kick and chase,suddenly I’m looking very smart lol.
    I actually spent a bit of time reading up on Wengers philosophies when it comes to kids,so at least I was smart enough to do that!
    This season,the club has me running 4 sides as the other 3 coaches are novices,whose sides were getting belted last season.
    Theyre now at least all competitive.
    Anyway,the point is this……bad coaching will destroy good kids forever,before they even have a chance.
    I see my kids belting sides who shoot from everywhere,with coaches and parents applauding BIG KICKS!!!.
    This frustrates the hell out of me,but you know what,that style of play was exactly how I learnt to play the game!!!
    In closing,the reason some countries play a certain style of intimidating football is because they were not shown the correct way to play the game in the first place.
    A big,fast 12 year old will probably outplay a small,technical kid on a full size field,but a few years down the track,the technical boy takes over.
    What does the bigger kid do?
    Try to intimidate the technical boy.
    My prime example of a footballer who never needed to learn how to play is Theo Walcott.
    Being so fast meant that as a youth,he’d simply dominate,but now he’s up against tough,smart professional,he can sometimes look very,very ordinary.
    Hope that was short enough.

  18. Adam
    27/05/2012

    Mindset of English football= Research Mob Football.
    It’s not only some British sides that play rough house ball, the Scandinavians where notorious for kicking you up in the air. It was more of a northern european thing(the long ball game).

  19. Adam
    27/05/2012

    There was talk of stopping youngsters from playing 11 aside games untill they where 13/14 years old. The standard of coaching is changing but it will take time. Plus the standard of surfaces is better abroad than in England this also has an impact at grass roots.

  20. Arvind
    27/05/2012

    That’s an interesting perspective Scott; thanks. I think it really comes down to 1 thing; and maybe that is how life is as a rule. You don’t have to be as good as others; just good enough to survive. So for example: If you have a government job in India, even if you are utterly abysmal at it, you’ll never be kicked out for multiple reasons. Mapping that to football, if the FA thinks kick and run is great, 80% of all the teams in England think its great, at least 14 out of 20 teams play long ball in the EPL, all the refs think the “physicality” is great and all the managers cry about how they “cant compete” otherwise…..and most importantly all the youth coming through who know that their careers are going to be in England think that style is the best…and all “great” English icons play “IN England” bar Beckham….so …. expecting anything else BUT kick and run and long ball.. is not logical.

    And that is why Arsenal is disruptive…in a way…it is changing albeit slowly the norm…from a business point of view and a football point of view. If the FA cannot see that…more fool them.

  21. Shard
    27/05/2012

    If you think England is bad, try playing in the local leagues in India. Especially Delhi. Any player with any bit of skill is targeted by these muscular numbskulls, and if you ever make the mistake of going past one of them with say a pirouette or a stepover, that’s it. You’ll be kicked out of the game. Of course poor coaching, poor quality of pitches and infrastructure (not to say the intense heat) all contribute to a poor standard of football.

    Why it should remain so in England, I do not know. They have the money, the infrastructure, the exposure. I don’t know if people really would hold onto this idea of a mythical glorious past where English football was great, and there was no diving or ‘weakness’ shown in the game, you just ‘got on with it’ etc, if the ex-players didn’t propagate that view so much. Which begs the question why do they get so much space in the media? One difference between England and Italy, France and Germany (that I’ve noticed at least) is that while ex-players there have their say, they are usually not the ‘go to guys’. It is specialised football writers who analyse the game. The player is used more for some insights into particular incidents on the field, and player reactions etc.

    Of course the specialised football writers here are luminaries like John Cross and Martin Samuel. That wouldn’t help much with anything, would it?

    As a wild guess, I think the FA is aware of the problem and want to rectify it. (Whatever happened to that academy they were planning though?) I think England’s problem might be the opposite to India’s problem though. We don’t have much money in football, so there is no incentive to change for the better. The English have the richest league. Too much money. So where’s the incentive to change for them? Why grow when you are already on top? (In terms of money, and that’s all that matters these days) Far easier to let things be and rake in the moolah.

  22. kampala gun
    27/05/2012

    I think the FA is doing a disservice to English football,look for example who would dare give Terry the card he received in the Champions league or who would dare give Rooney the card he received in the Euro’s qualifier?(This season he never got even a single card) I mean any ref or 2ref would be relegated to the Division as he was not fit to be in that match or he is not the ref to do that.
    I think its high time Ref/FA without segregation to apply the rules of the game simple.So those of you who will be watching the Euro’s watch and see if rules applied in Euro are the same as those in the Premiership.

  23. bob
    27/05/2012

    Exhibit A once again rears its ugly head. It is the Bad Seed – indeed, how to succeed in the EPL on EVERY LEVEL: the celebrated crime scene and the fans adulation of the victory and the method of victory at Old Toilet on October 24 2004. A day of infamy. A day in which the values embodied by English Football are on full display, in full effect. And the rewards of following its example – and punishments for rejecting its example – are clear. It is the template; the actual Law of the (English) Game. Indeed, it should be taught in every youth setting as what NOT to do, as how to disgrace the game (as players, as refs, as managers, as fans), and how to fail in international competitions: (again, to thank rantetta for keeping it in circulation):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM747L9Wf8M
    And then, let the seed be planted. Why is this “way of the warrior” being promoted? and by whom?

  24. bob
    27/05/2012

    p.s. sorry, ^ “let the good seed be planted.”

  25. Stuart
    27/05/2012

    If Walter or any ref reviewers use Bit Torrent, I may have found a source for game 50 of the invincibles.

    http://torrentz.eu/c65dd66b192d6d64997b2009323b5cff283df774

  26. bob
    27/05/2012

    Stuart,
    What’s Bit Torrent? How does the neophyte access it? (C’mon, steal the fire and give it to the cold and huddled masses.)

  27. Stuart
    27/05/2012

    Bob,
    I’m not quite sure myself, I accidentally worked it out once but never again.

  28. iniez
    27/05/2012

    bob,
    Yes that’s what I’m saying, though you put it better. It just makes sense to me I suppose. The incessant boasting by pundits, players, and coaches about the english spirit and getting stuck in, surely means they’re very proud of it. It’s an overt love for that style of play. Certainly something that they’re so proud of must be protected and, as you put it, they need to fight back “the way they know how”.

    Whether arsenal became the poster-boy for this fight back is up for question, but it seems whenever a finger is pointed for deviating from the english way, it’s pointed at arsenal. Arsenal “don’t like it up em”, arsenal “need an english backbone”, etc. To me it’s essentially a promulgation that arsenal is the anti-christ of english football. From there the doors only open. The public sees arsenal as soft, so any complaints we make is just us bitching because we don’t like it. Now when it comes to refs, just pick your favourite conspiracy theory, whether they themselves also believe arsenal is just soft or it’s coordinated bias, just pick your poison. So once everyone is good and desensitized to arsenal getting the treatment, it paves the way for teams to do be a little harder with us. Either as a strategy to stop/hurt us, or to fight the “foreign invasion”

    And Bit Torrent is a program used to download files online through peer-to-peer sharing. These files are called ‘torrents’ and can be music, movies, games, programs, etc. The torrents themselves are found from torrent dedicated websites (such as the torrentz.eu as linked by Stuart).
    This is a link to the bittorrent site if you wish to download it http://www.bittorrent.com/. If you have any questions please ask

  29. bob
    28/05/2012

    iniez,
    so, a bit further, that overt love for “the only way the know how” to prevail also betrays their fear of failing by their inability to cope with a more technical style, hence having to label it “unmanly” (french), “alien (johnny foreigner’s) and, on the pitch, by kicking it to bits. imo, these combine with profit-driven as well as other economic motives (such as eliminating the threat of AFC’s sustainable business model) to produce the actual (not-paranoid) experience of our having to play against twelve men in far too many games. would you agree with this combination as generally what’s been going on?

  30. bob
    28/05/2012

    p.s. last bit: imo, in the foreground, the UK football media focuses on beating the drums for the “English style” (combining a style of manhood and their version of being patriotic) against the “foreign” influence (technical proficiency) because it’s a long-standing formula for capturing public agreement and then channels it against AFC/AW for the above listed reasons. In the background are the deeper economic games and shadow wars that deploy their media assets to push the foreground buttons in service to their economic interests (winning the league, CL qualification, billionaire control, bung-o-rama forever, and other deeper machinations.)

  31. Shard
    28/05/2012

    bob

    I’d like to say thank you or that link, but in all honesty, can’t thank you, because that link just made me so ANGRY.. And that man is the head of the referees. Simply brilliant.. And looking at Fuckworth Ferguson’s beaming face tells you all you need to know about that man. Does anyone doubt he told his players to go out and kick the Arsenal players? And Rio’s clock on Ljungberg.. Fucking amazing that that referee becomes the chief of all referees in England.. Or not… Busacca is also now head of referees at UEFA isn’t he? And no..these matches are never fixed..no..never..

  32. bob
    28/05/2012

    Shard,
    i couldn’t agree with you more. it’s the Bad Seed and says it all – and it’s still going on, “hidden in plain sight”!

  33. bob
    28/05/2012

    Shard,
    one last bit: I find it mind-numbing to behold those rapturous fans’ immoral complicity in the whole rotten charade. that is the main reason i am so glad that the Rednose XX was de-railed (even by these petro-ballers). It all starts again soon enough…

  34. bob
    28/05/2012

    Shard,
    I think Bussacca is now head of referee standards (or some like exalted title) for FIFA (I think. But I have read that it’s somewhere other than UEFA – perhaps a distinction without that much of a difference.)

  35. iniez
    28/05/2012

    bob,
    Yes very well put! But I would believe that what happens in the background hinges on how effective the work in the foreground is. There’s a very fine line between the “english style” and assault, so that interpretation must effectively be translated over to the public. Likewise there’s a difference between complaining because you’v been mistreated, and just being a softy that can’t handle it. The key to me is this translation to the public

  36. bob
    29/05/2012

    iniez,
    totally with you there. the illusion must be maintained and the translation must work with enough of the public so that those who complain can be marginalized as whingers, nutters and conspiracy theorists… hmmmm.

  37. bob
    29/05/2012

    rantetta,
    there was so much to chew on here that I actually missed your super (or should I say Zuper!) links to Englischer Fussball. It is really good. Maybe you should provide installments, a bit at a time for us to savor. It sounds like required reading. And, of course, I’m really glad you have Arsene’s interview to gush over! 🙂 That too is required reading. These links are so worth keeping alive so there’s something like solid ground in this madhouse.

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