Written for the LateTackleMag – A moan about those professing to be the master of tactical analysis.
A moan about those professing to be the master of tactical analysis.
Football is a simple game, in theory and practice. Score more than your opposition and you win. Play better than your opposition and you’ll win, for the most part. Tactically, too, football is simple; there’s no need for convoluted, and confusing, methods of build-up play and defensive stratagem.
From a young age I was instructed to play the ball simply, and so were many others. Playing the ball simply does not rescind the licence of expression, however – I was told to enjoy playing, to enjoy the thrill of taking someone on, shooting and so forth. Passing the way you’re facing, passing out wide, crossing the ball in when given the chance and shooting on sight: they’re considered primitive forms of football by those who claim to chair the throne of tactical masterminds. In reality, they’re those slumped on a sagging sofa, never having played the game. A team does not have to have a plethora of game-plans and they do not need countless variations on a formation to succeed.
A player does not need to be the beneficiary of monotonous build-up play to have the opportunity to shoot. Inverted wingers, false number nines, paradigms of bewildering axis in an unrecognisable formation – jargon exclusive to those who revel in the sham of tactical mathematics.
Let me be clear, I do not shun the notion of tactics, but the pretentious and unnecessary world of tactical algebra. Tactics are best utilised when simple; let’s face it, footballers, generally, aren’t the most intelligent.
The immense attacking prowess of Barcelona is built upon fast passing, movement and clinical finishing. They’re economical in the play, wonderfully ruthless. There is no secret behind the way in which they play. There’s no intelligible and grand theory behind it. It is pass and move, pass and move.
Okay, so what about Pep Guardiola? I’m not calling Pep, and other current successful managers, fraudulent, I’m chastising those who seek to explain their football footprints as revolutionary. Guardiola’s tactics have been incessantly explored, and explained in a variety of different forms; really, his team is built upon pressing and movement (as explained in this masterpiece) It seems also sanctimonious to reduce such a great manager’s ideology to two words – though, what differentiates his team’s pressing and movement is the intensity of the closing-down and the unpredictable and essentially erratic nature of his forward’s movements, making it difficult for defenders to mark.
Aren’t I also just claiming to know everything? You could quite possibly view this article as that, but I’m not professing to know every nook and cranny of each manager’s ways of initiating movement and pressing. Other than the fact this it is often dependent on the opposition, without actually being a manager, one can never understand the slight, but often match-changing, adjustments to player movement, pressing, defending and passing that the best managers make.
I, along with everyone else, will never fully comprehend the workings of a manager and their team. But, on a basic level, the best teams revolve around one simple theory: pass and move.