By Walter Broeckx
When I saw Mourinho win against Barcelona and Bayern Munich with his very defensive tactics I feared the worst for football.
I feared that we were in for a lot of teams trying to stick to his tactics. Park the bus in front of goal and hope for a counter attack and win the game. A bit the old Belgian tactics I so deeply hate.
As I have noted elsewhere, people who want to see a game on TV (when it is not their team that is playing) want to see attractive football. In Holland there was a drop up to 40 % when a Mourinho team played the final, even with some Dutch players in his team.
Of course Mourinho and Inter will not mind that people turn off their TVs. And maybe Uefa don’t mind at first but they have to be careful because the sponsors could mind if they see that the audience drops because of the ugly football on display.
But as Guo Sheng Lee said in his “Why are you an Arsenal fan?” article, the “winning is all” philosophy is king in football for the moment. I’m not saying winning is not important, because it is. But is winning at all cost good for football?
Of course for the team that wins the game it is. But how long will people come to the stadium to see a team win in such a way? How long will people sit in front of their TV and doze off? And how long will sponsors keep on paying money and risk that no one is noticing their advertising hoardings because the stadium is empty and the TV is off?
In fact, in the long run the Mourinho philosophy could bring the future of football in danger.
By the end of the first games in each group in the world cup it was clear to see that the big majority of teams are trying to play the Mourinho tactics. The result was that never before in the modern times we have seen so many boring games. Because if the two teams play the same tactics you get the most dreadful football you can imagine. The number of goals scored is very low. Alarmingly low I would say. It is not that there is no icing on the cake, there’s not even a cake.
I know you can have very entertaining 0-0 draws but this can only happen when both teams are trying to attack and through a series of last second interceptions, shots against the post and amazing saves, the goals just don’t come. I think we all can remember some games when we could go home satisfied because the game was good, there were chances but sometimes the goal just don’t come.
But so far in the world cup we have seen a lot of games where the teams don’t attack each other. They wait for the other team to attack them and if that team don’t attack them they just keep on sitting in the back.
So we see what happens when all the teams would play the Mourinho tactic. In a way I feel very sorry for South Africa. For the first time there is a world cup in their continent. If we leave aside for the moment all the criticism that one can have against Fifa we must say that it is a great thing to have a world cup in Africa as the people in Africa deserved it.
And now the people who love football in Africa come to see the beautiful game and all they get to see is mostly dreadful football. I think the people in South Africa deserve better. But unfortunately the people don’t decide the tactics; the trainers do.
I think we should be careful about using comparative phrases such as “the best” or “the worst world cup”. These are always dangerous. As only the first games have been played we still have a long way to go and things could change. So I will not be saying, yet, that this world cup is the most boring world cup ever in history. I will not be saying, yet, this is the worst world cup ever in history. But what I do can say is that this is the worst first games ever in a world cup in history.
25 goals in the first round in 16 games is an all time low, an average of 1,5 goals per game. And luckily that we had Germany, the only team in my eyes that have made some impression and played 90 minutes at a high level, who scored 4 goals (because otherwise we would have an average of 1.3 goals per game). Imagine this: Germany the saviour of attractive football in the world cup. Well someone has to save football in the world cup I guess.
In a way this world cup is maybe a bit of a blessing for some Arsenal fans. I know most fans enjoy the way we play football in the Wenger era a lot. I do anyway. We play an attacking game, we play nice football with skill and a quick passing game. In most of our games we see good attractive football and we can be proud of the way we play.
Of course after a while some may take this for granted. But when you see during a week nothing but utterly boring and defensive football you begin to appreciate the way we play even more.
The Arsène Wenger philosophy with its entertaining football, is something that could be lost when the manager leaves us. Imagine what happens if we get a trainer who would adapt the way Switzerland plays. I could have taken another country but this was just the game that came to mind.
Yes, Switzerland won but are we going to sit full of anticipation when they play their next game? Are we going to mark the date and the time in our schedule to be sure that we don’t miss a second of their game? Well I will not that’s for sure. I will be looking when they play so I can be sure that I do something else when they play. And I repeat I could have changed the name Switzerland by almost any other country in the tournament. Don’t take it as a personal attack against Switzerland if you are a Swiss Gooner.
So for the moment we can only hope that we might see a bit more football being played and that the coaches have to stop their defensive tactics a bit. But I’m afraid that from the moment the group stages are over we will see even more of this Mourinho type of games. So I will be watching in the hope that we get to see some nice football but I wouldn’t bet any money on it.
The good thing is that in only one month time we will have most of our boys back in training and ready to start the season and see some attractive football. Please, please bring it on.
Avoid Boredom: read “Making the Arsenal”
Avoid Boredom: read more articles on Untold
Avoid Boredom: read about Arsenal during war time
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