The lost art of defending

Football? Bloody hell!

Monday, October 7, 2020

They say that if you change one part of a system that the change isn’t always immediate and isn’t always the one you’d imagine.

I was thinking about this as I watched the other Birmingham team put seven past Liverpool and grumpy-chops’ Spurs run in six at Old Trafford.

I was brought up on the hard men of the seventies, Smith, Hunter, Storey, Chopper et al. There’s a line between hard but fair and brutality that these chaps occasionally wandered over.

As we entered the shiny new era of the Sky league, there was a case for a redressing the balance in favour of the skilful, so they could ply their trade and delight us with their tekkers, is that the word?, without fear of a good raking down the back of their Achilles or of Mark Dennis putting them over the advertising hoardings.

“So the laws have changed, the main one being outlawing the tackle from behind, or the side, or just tackling generally.”

So the laws have changed, the main one being outlawing the tackle from behind, or the side, or just tackling generally.

As I watched Man U and Liverpool defenders fail to lay a glove on any forward who hinted at going anywhere near their goal, I realised that they didn’t know how to anymore. Technique now is all about not going to ground, ie another way to avoid tackling, and that strange body shape where they contort themselves with their arms behind their back to avoid handling, or below shirt-sleeve arming as it now is, the ball.

The maestro of this modern day non-defending defender is David Luiz, who also throws in the ability to crassly give away the ball in highly dangerous positions to form the whole package of the post-post modern man who will guarantee us armchair punters the thing we crave most – goals and the creation of talking points for Jermaine Jenas.

The consequence is that 7-2s and 1-6s will start to become the norm, rather than the genuinely exciting exception.

With its gradual change into a non-contact sport and ramping up of the goal fests, Football is starting to resemble basketball.

But, for me, one of the beauties of football is the comparative rarity of the goal. That explosion of delight will start to dissipate as the ninth one goes in yet again.

Down with this sort of thing.

Football? Bloody hell!

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