By Chris Wright
Believe it or not, here at Pies we love football, bloody love it – it’s pretty much the only reason we do what we do for the kind of pittance we get for doing it.
While we’re not exactly card-carrying members of the Against Modern Football sect, there are certain aspects of the game that boil all four of our humours.
These, as they say, be those…
1. The general obnoxious over-engineering of everything
We ask you, do MK Dons really need rally-designed Yokohama bucket seats in their dugouts?
From Wayne Rooney’s military-issue Kevlar headband to the front-firing Lucozade bottles on the touchlines; everything’s so gosh-darn technical from an accessory standpoint these days.
Bit silly really, ain’t it? Definite collective case of having more money than sense.
Qu’est que c’est?
2. The endless procession of statistics
Stats, stats all around but not a single salient conclusion to draw from any of them most of the bloody time.
Call us old fuddy-duddies if you will, but reducing a ostensibly meat-and-potatoes game down into a spreadsheet has always rankled – indeed, there was a time when Pies used to moan about the irrelevance of giving credence to any given player’s assist tally.
However, now we have pass completion rates, heat maps, GPS-ordained mileage and even these utterly baffling spider graphs to deal with too.
Saints preserve us!
3. Grating use of coaching jargon
Again, symptomatic of trying to make everything so gosh-darn technical, managers like Brendan Rodgers (though he’s hardly alone in the field) now exclusively talk like they’re reciting passages from their UEFA coaching workshop handbooks.
Transition = tackling
Turnover = tackling
Breakdown = tackling
High press = closing down/tackling
An off-shoot of the same problem is the creeping use of NFL-style Americanisms here and there, with “Quarterback”, “full-court press”, “off-season”, “plays”, “game time”, “roster”, etc, all beginning to crop up intermittently.
This must be systematically nipped in the bud for obvious reasons.
Football already has a well-established lexicon. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t need embellishing with Yankisms.
4. The rise and rise of the sideways midfielder
Fine, we get the tactical intricacies of having a deep-lying midfielder: He’s a solid hand to keep things ticking over going forward and a body in the way coming back.
However, the neat and tidy pass-completing midfielder role (or the “continuity midfielder” role as we’ve actually heard it seriously referred to in the past!) is now perilously close to becoming a parody of itself in some quarters.
Too many non-committal dipsticks are now content to sprint headlong at their centre-half, take the ball off