Is playing long-ball a Sin?

Long balls

Lets start with some FAQ.

What is the objective of football?
Ans: You have to score more goals than the opposition in-order to win the game.

Just cos the name of the game is football, are you supposed to play the game with your feet only?
Ans: No. you are allowed to use any part of your body other than your hands.

Is football a contact sport?
Ans: Yes.

Now over the years with the rise of Barcelona there is this theory propagated by some that beautiful football means passing the ball short with your feet all day in the middle of the park.Now who decides if a certain type of football is ”beautiful” to watch? The fan who is watching the game right?

Nobody can be told as to what is pretty and what is not so pretty. Let the fans decide what is pretty to watch and what’s not. I know of several people who find the brand of football Spain/Barcelona pretty boring to watch. The term pretty football is a misnomer imo. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and football administrators/managers/coaches cannot shove a particular type of football as the right way to play the game. Nobody has a divine right to dictate what is palatable or unpalatable for others.

As long as a team is playing within the clearly laid out laws of the game it should not matter whether they pass it long or short, whether they play it on the ground or in the air. The choice should be left to the fan who pays his hard earned money to keep the game alive. Right now there is this tendency of shoving out a particular style of football out of the game. The art of tackling is dying a slow death while the scene of a big burly old fashioned CF knocking it down for his strike partner to pick it up and stick it in the back of the net even rarer.

Football is a physical contact sport and just cos some teams take it to the extremes you cannot deem the aerial art itself borderline illegal. There are clearly laid out laws as to where the limits are and it is up to the administrators of the sport to determine whether a said team is crossing the line but you cannot hatch a conspiracy to kill the art itself right?

Gerrard was quoted after their Derby against Everton in October 28th, 2012 which ended in 2-2 claiming Everton as a glorified long ball team. The funny bit was that till that point in the 2012-13 season Everton were actually playing the more expansive brand of football. Can anybody with some sense of sanity claim Everton were boring to watch in 2012-13 season? Just cos you cannot play the game they do or you cannot deal with their game, you cannot start throwing your toys out of your pram.

More recently Mourinho was quoted as saying West play football of the 19th century after his team were held to a scoreless draw at the bridge. He claimed that only one team was playing football while the other team was not. Allardyce reply was a classic ”We’ve ‘out-tacticked’ him, outwitted him. He just can’t cope”. Now i have highest regard for Mourinho’s tactical abilities but him throwing his toys out of was the pram was more to do with his inability to break down a well organized and well drilled West Ham defence. Has Mourinho not played for a point from the outset? Has Mourinho never parked bus in front of the goal? As they say use the long ball excuse whenever it does not suit you. The much Ostracized Tony Pulis now in charge of Crystal palace has given them a genuine chance of staying up. Top teams expect the lower league teams to come out and play against their own interests? How fair is it? A football manager’s primary interest is to get the result matter irrespective of the means. He is not there to win media accolades. He is there to deliver results. With player of much lower skill-sets it would prove to be suicidal to go play an all out attacking brand of football against top teams for teams occupying the lower half of the table.

Barcelona end up winning trophies right, left and center and suddenly the type of football is the best, the most pretty is it? We used to be hailed like that in the past, even now but we all know deep inside that the kind of football we have dished out in the last seven years has been tedious and unnecessarily dragged out at times like an hour long movie stretched out to three hours. There was this interesting concept at the Euros  where Spain were called negative for passing the ball sideways in the middle of the park all day without coming back or going forward.

I think more than any team we have paid the price for not utilizing the aerial art of football effectively. It did not affect us that much in the past but after RVP’s departure we need to be looking at the more direct option whenever necessary. We do not have a Striker who can dribble two or three defenders for fun. We have a Striker whose strengths lie in getting to the end of crosses and holding the ball up bringing others around him in to play. As i said in my earlier post we need a Striker who is pacey/nimble/mobile/trickier who would be more at home with our style of play but now that we do not have one there is no harm in playing to the strengths of Giroud whenever possible. No i am not asking for a mindless hoof ball tactics but the beautifully weighted cross-field diagonal long passes are such a rarity in our style of play.

I think a team playing a well drilled and well executed brand of aerial threat can be a handful against any opposition as i tend to believe the Center-Backs these days are not what they used to be [read=tall, strong and physical]. I just want to say it is unfair to blame the likes of Big Sam and Pulis for employing a style which may not be eye pleasing to all but is mighty effective for them. Yes they overdo it at times but i don’t think what they are doing is illegal.¬† they need to be rapped on their knuckles if they cross the line but as long as they are within the permissible limits it should be fine. There are teams like Southampton which are employing a free flowing brand of football while there are teams like Palace and West Ham which employ a direct brand. I say watch what you want to. Do not let the media propaganda or the managers or the pundits make the choice for you…


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