10 Things Pies Just Can’t Bloody Stand About Modern Football

Chris Wright

10th, November 2014


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…

Soccer - Capital One Cup - First Round - MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon - Stadium:MK

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.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Aston Villa - Stamford Bridge

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 their toe and ping a delightfully crisp eight-yard pass to the full-back before patting themselves on the back for a job well done and taking the next five minutes off as a reward.

It might be our rose-tinteds talking here, but we distinctly seem to remember when the best midfielders could and would dabble in a bit of everything.

5. The irresistible Sky Sports-ification of televised football

Every game is a MASSIVE, slow-motion, high-definition gladiatorial encounter set to “Lux Aeterna” while everything between is a loud, shouty narrative-driven soap opera bursting at the seams with MASSIVE talking points for honking imbeciles like Robbie Savage and Tony Cascarino to react MASSIVELY to.

The problem is that when MASSIVE AND LOUD AND SUPERLATIVE is the default setting, it becomes tough to make anything feel special after a while.


6. The general phasing out of the art of defending

Yep, steel yourself for a bit of an old fart rant.

As a top-tier defensive player in this day and age, it seems a clean, well-timed interception is your only option of nabbing back possession for fear of sending your man billowing away on the wind at the slightest hint of contact.

If an attacking player is allowed to use his raw pace, speed of thought and agility to gain an advantage over a defender, why should the defender not retain equal right to attempt to gain the exact same advantage using his physique, commitment and strength?

We’re not condoning thuggery, merely pointing out that football should flow both ways.

Brazil Colombia Soccer

7. The diving/falling/screaming/whining/feigning

It’s devious, it’s conniving, it’s appalling, it’s cheating and we hate it with the livid anger of one thousand vengeful suns.

Grow up and play properly.

Don’t even get us started on the rapidly-dissolving concept of “contact“.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Stoke City v Newcastle United - Britannia Stadium

Yeah, that’ll learn him!

8. Short-termism

Just like Freddie Mercury before them, most football fans – or at least the most vociferous and self-entitled ones – seem to want it all and want it NOW.

Take the slightly half-arsed “Sack Pardew” movement as an example: A middling team embark on an entirely plausible run of naff results and their manager quickly transmogrifies into an insidious bogeyman that needs yanking out at the root.

Three or four decent wins later and everything’s quiet on the north eastern front – with the little A4 posters of doom packed safely away for another day.

So silly.

Which brings us neatly on to…


9. Post-game fan vox pops

This may well be directly due to Pies’ line of work, but we really wish Youtube channels, etc, would stop giving these loud, ranting, fickle, knee-jerk pillocks a pedestal on which to honk for they tend to represent the very worst of modern football fandom.


10. The state of punditry

We know we drone on about it remorselessly, but punditry really is going to eat itself one of these days.

Martin Keown spending 10 minutes poring over a split-second freeze-frame to analyse which direction players are looking in?

Bullshit of the highest order.

Any little things about modern football that really get your dander up, Pies fans?

Let us know all about it…

Posted in Featured, Newsnow, Opinion, Top 10s & lists

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  1. OberKommandant_Mein_OberKommandant says:

    Well summed up. Sky has always rankled with its smarm, typically embodied by Richard Keys.

    “Parklife” by Nick Varley highlights the insidious plan that will surely stultify football even further. A must read if you want to know how it will go… and it ain’t purty.

  2. Potro says:

    American Pundits

  3. Dan says:

    This wins the internet.
    Pies is the gospel.

  4. Jim says:

    Half-time ‘entertainment’

  5. Alan Duffy says:

    I’d add podcasts – far too many now usually filled with sexually frustrated sneery twats parroting ‘humorous’ ‘ironic’ clichés we’ve heard a zillion times before.

  6. Murray says:

    11. Shit Refs Making Shit Calls

    From fans, to players, to executives, the collective dedication of our time, effort, and loads of money far too often culminates in the one middle-aged fart in neon who nobody gives a damn about doing more to sway a match through a blown call (a wrongful penalty awarded to a diver, no penalty awarded for a legitimate foul, etc.) than any of the 22 players we’re really looking to see.

    This is an area where new innovation (replay technology, extra sets of eyes on the pitch, etc.) could actually play a role in ensuring that the most crucial calls in important games have as little chance of being totally botched as possible, but in the current environment, this is THE single most unsatisfying thing about following the sport.

  7. Chris says:

    @Alan: Hear hear.

    Often wonder why anyone would want to listen to other people’s banal pub chatter.

  8. Jamie says:

    No mention of FIFA being generally a bunch of cunts?

  9. Billy says:

    I can’t stand Robbie Savage, would rather Eskimo kiss a baboon’s arse than listen to his gobshite.

    Peace Out x

  10. Kevin McConnell says:

    #11 Should be Sepp Blatter.

  11. Music played after a goal. Utter, utter dross.

  12. Jimmy says:

    People missing their pants when some player does a back heel. IT’S NOT THAT IMPRESSIVE. Really. I can do it, and I’m shit at football.

  13. Pablo says:

    Isn’t the Pardew thing the exact opposite of short-termism? Newcastle were crap for nearly an entire year, the fans justifiably wanted rid, and most of them still do. The only short-termism is from pundits who think everything’s fine after a string of decent results.

  14. Kingsland101 says:

    No 11: Newsnow. Too much news.

  15. Bob says:

    Ticket prices?

  16. Gui Finkler says:

    Players doing that obnoxious Christ-sign as they exit/enter the field of play is becoming “cool”.

    Honestly I’m now seeing park players and juniors aping the pros.

    Sends a bad message to the kids I reckon (i.e might make them want to turn in to happy-clappers or holy-nonces)

  17. Jimmy says:

    Also in regards to #2 I feel like there is a certain whiff of classism in the whole analytics echo chamber. Like they just can’t believe that an old-fashioned “football man” like Sam Allardyce could possibly know more about sports than they. They’re the same sort of bell-end as those people who argue that Shakespeare couldn’t have possibly written those plays because he was just a commoner from Stratford.

  18. Haywired says:

    I think the thing that annoys me most in modern football is the fact that what should be called “the 2nd division/league 2” is now called “the Championship” (and so what should be called “league 3” is now called “league 1″…) This makes absolutely no bloody sense! People still call the Premier League the championship, and rightly so, because the Premier League title is “the championship”!

    It even annoyed when I was like 9 years old, first getting into football when post-Premier League, “the 2nd division” was renamed “the 1st division”. Little did I know, there was worse to come…

    If nothing else it’s made discussing English football history a right bloody mess;

    “Who won the championship in 1972?”
    “What, as in the second division?”
    “No, the old first division?”
    “What, as in new third division?”

  19. James says:

    Big team bias. From everywhere you look – Sky, BBC, the bloody Sport Bible. One of their top “stories” that irked me today claimed that Old Trafford was the loudest ground in the Premier League after a study conducted this weekend – um yeah becuase all teams played at home this weekend didn’t they?

    Add the lad culture glory hunters to that too – even though they’ve of course been around since the dawn of time (the inauguration of the Premier League in their eyes) they seem to be around an awful lot more since Twitter and Facebook got big. Thus leading to comments such as “Get Young and Cleverly out of MY team”. Do me a favour you’ve never been north of Watford!

  20. porcelain sandwich says:

    #11 – Squirrels who run onto the pitch. I’ve seen it once and I will actually bust a nut if I see it again. We need a multi-million pound Simpsons-esque squirrel patrol if this epidemic is ever going to be wiped out.

  21. Ian says:

    The insistance that international football should matter. It has a time and a place… “the off season” to quotee one of the ubiquitous americanisms.

  22. Josh says:

    Gotta disagree with #8 in regards to newcastle fans, this whole thing about toon fans being fickle is bullshit, yes we have to give credit to Pardew for this run of 5 on the bounce and that may win him over with the short sighted among us but to most we havent just turned round and gone back sucking him off. We’ve endured 2 years of his misguided leadership and had to listen to excuse after excuse from both he and the board, in my eyes he isnt a good enough manager for a premiership team, we have a good squad and have played well to get the last 5 in the bag but its only a matter of time before he goes and fucks it up. Tactically he is inept, as a man manager he doesnt seem to know how to control players and his own emotions very well and combine that with his puppet nature and our pathetic ownership its just a ticking time bomb once again, next PR meltdown is imminent, but until that happens, haway the lads, keep it up.

  23. TravisKOP says:

    The incessant need to design and spew new terms and classifications for players. IE: “He’s not a traditional striker hes a deep lying poacher” etc etc

  24. Rob says:

    Stats that only begin since the beginning of the Premier League and Champions league.
    Every year we hear crap like “No team has retained the European Cup” and that “Chelsea have never lost at home to Southampton or whoever”
    Maybe someone should suggest that because the World Cup has changed its configuration since 1966, England have never won it.

  25. Bear says:

    @Jimmy haha perfect

    I actually would like to echo the point of the sideways midfielder – I cringe every time I see midfielders immediately turn themselves toward either touchline or slightly backwards, especially when they have oodles of space around them. I noticed it especially with Arsenal against Swansea, and it just looks so defeatist, as if each midfielder says, “I could totally sprout an attack against you right now, but I’m so much more advanced through my team’s superior technical strategy. Progressing the ball forward? So immature.”

  26. Nemanja says:

    #1 thing that I HATE about modern football: MONEY IS KING

    Sure you had enormous money deals in the past, but it seems like now there is a huge divide between 20-30 of the rich clubs across Europe (Real, Barca, Chelsea, PSG, UTD, Bayern.. to name a few) and the rest! Gone are the days where Red Star Belgrade, Steaua Bucuresti, Borussia Monchengladbach etc or any other club without deep pockets can seriously contest for anything titles in Europe. Even in domestic leagues, rich clubs dominate.

    It is more about advertising, and selling than about football itself.

    Just my 2 cents.

  27. Rob says:

    How about the electronic advertising boards?
    It’s already difficult enough for fans to try to watch the football and stare at their I phones, but those damn advertising boards add another distraction.
    When Man City are on the television the angle of the camera means that when the boards turn white you can’t see the crossbar, but obviously the advert is more important than the fan being able to watch a game properly.

  28. jos says:

    No doubt Neymar is a diver, but I just get the shits when people ignore Ronaldo in this case, he is the biggest of them all, claiming “contact” every time he goes into the penalty area, and nobody ever talks about it just because he plays for Real Madrid and used to play for united. For me he is the biggest Freud around in the game. It’s just disgusting.

  29. Giancarlo says:

    I think diving, whining, nagging for cards/whole team runs toward the referee as the worst part of football these days. After that, the stupid celebrations players do like American Football after they score/players running off like they won the World Cup after netting a 3 yard tap in off someone else’s hard work!

  30. Dave says:

    Post match action reaction and analysis by a trio of nob heads who have an hour to fill….the game was shit..just say that.

  31. Hugh Stewart says:

    #11-That Forest aren’t in the Premiere League.

  32. Dan says:

    Also, just international football in general. Largely redundant…

  33. Anonymous says:

    I believe the term for #4 is ‘water carrier’. Truly horrendous.

    Players surrounding the referee for every little decision that doesn’t go their way really grinds my gears. It should be like in rugby where only the captain can talk to the referee; it would restore some reverence and respect to the concept of wearing the armband at the very least.

  34. ian says:

    match D.J. playing music after a goal don’t need him to play a lame tune to remind me to celebrate

  35. Liam says:

    MONEY – the gap between the wealthier clubs and the not so wealthy clubs is getting wider and wider. The playing field is not as level anymore. Remember at the start of the Prem when teams like Blackburn, Villa, Norwich, Leeds, Newcastle etc, could compete near the top?

    Honourable mention to the players who would rather play for club over country.

  36. Danny says:

    The fact that people seem to like complaining about football more than football.

  37. Stu says:

    Footballers, most of them are wankers. Football is a fantastic game spoiled by the idiots that play it. Too much money too soon.

  38. Walter Eagle says:

    THE MULTIPLICITY OF STRIPS – nowadays a football team doesn’t have its strip, its colours, its visual identity that very often gave rise to its familiar nickname. What it probably does have is a “home strip” and a “home change strip” and an “away strip” and an “away change strip” and … Ye Gods why can’t they play in a single chosen strip all year round. And on the rare, very rare, extremely rare, occasion that they are playing at the home of a team whose strip is almost identical to theirs, they slip, for that one match only, in to a strongly contrasting set of jerseys pulled from the basket in the back of the bus. And when I say “almost identical” I mean just that. The fact that a team with, say, red stripes is playing a team with solid red tops is not sufficient reason to change. If a referee and linesman (can I put in a separate entry on assistant referees?) can’t tell the difference then they shouldn’t be in charge anyway.
    An example I recall was when Scotland played Sweden in Sweden a few years ago. The Swedes elected to play in their home change strip which, at the time, had a dark blue shirt with white shorts. So Scotland played in their away change reserve alternate B strip or something, which, would you believe, had a yellow shirt with blue shorts. So the two sides had effectively changed strips with one another! Why couldn’t the fools have just stayed with their recognised national colours?

    Grrrr… now off to compose one about assistant referees, players taking their shirts off when they score, players getting booked for taking their shirts off when they score, Blatter, etc etc

  39. SlimCharles says:

    SackPardew definitely not short-termist. Several years of incompetence from the club’s hierarchy were brought to a head by 20 months’ (save for one run in late 2013) of relegation form. To lump the anti-Pardew campaign with the likes the Arsenal fan tv idiots is wilfully misrepresenting their argument.

  40. Adam says:

    Every facial expression and petulant action Cristiano Ronaldo has ever made. Totally disgusting. If I had his adam’s apple, I’d gag even harder.

    #10 deserves a second mention.

  41. Jarren says:

    The buying of big-name players when they really aren’t needed.

    Just because it will generate more revenue for the club in the short term is no excuse when it becomes apparent that the “big name” is actually quite average and the club could have bought 3 or 4 decent players who would bring solidity (and therefore results) to the team.

    But nobody tunes in to watch John Smith, nobody buys his shirt.

    It’s a vicious circle.

  42. Fat Nakago says:

    All of these are spot on!! But I’m most intrigued by the horrifying potential of hybrid NFL football/REAL football cliches. For example:

    The “Next New Frank Lampard” = Touchdown Vulture


    “It’s like they’re playing flag football out there, Jeff”

    And since this comment is an offshoot of #3…I (and no other pedants) would like to correct the author by saying that “full-court press” is an NBA cliche, not an NFL one.

    In that vein however, I’m waiting for someone to describe Chelsea and similar teams as running a “swing-offense”. ((No I’m not)).

    He “took it to the hoop” and “slam-dunked” off a “fast-break”, not a counter.

    And let’s not forget baseball. After all, w/o baseball we’d go insane on this planet. So, instead of “winning at the death”, it would be “he hit a walk-off homerun.”

    Now, it’s soccer’s turn to return the favour. I can’t hardly wait for some beat reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette to start off by writing, “On a chilly night at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers started brightly, asking questions of the Chicago Bears defense. The Bears had no replies for Aaron Rogers and company and the Packers held a commanding 6-0 lead when Craig Wrolstad blew for halftime…”

    Bloody hell!

    6-0 = 42-0 for those of you who are hiding from all this madness in The Crown Inn in Trunch.

    Thank you for today.

  43. B13 via Blendon says:

    None of this exists in non-league football.

    Come join us over here…

  44. Chris says:

    The post game vox-pops are compelling and promote the EPL no end…and imho have made a difference to board decisions (in arsenals case). Disagree.

  45. matty says:

    Shit tattoos and Jose Mourinho.

  46. Anonymous says:

    in other words, 10 things popele who don’t understand football don’t like about modern football. Absolutely no clue mate

  47. A Brazil says:

    #11 Adrian Durham on Talksport ‘…..I really think that England are in with a chance of winning the World Cup / Euros…….No, hear me out and I’ll explain why….’

  48. Joe says:

    What’s so short-term about giving your manager 11 months to find a patch of form in his team after an absolutely abysmal run of results and performances? When was the last time that happened to any Premier League manager?
    I really don’t get why am organised protest during one home game constitutes anything other than patience being worn out and desperate measures to tackle the quite frightening realisation that the owner doesn’t have a plan B.

  49. Terry Shedingham says:

    The ultra slow motion replays/generally shite production in international tournaments. They get worse with every successive tournament. One example at the World Cup this year that I can’t forget is during the final, the cameras cutting away from the game (ball still in play of course, one of the Argentinian strikers bearing down on Neuer) to show some fat kid in the stands crying.

  50. Terry Shedingham says:


    A literal Freudian slip there…

    • Geraldo says:

      @Terry Shedingham jos is probably brassed off that Sigmund, Clement, Matthew and Emma Freud never made it in the beautiful game.

      And whilst I’m here…I once heard that doyen of broadcasting and shining example to journalism Alan Brazil use the term “fraudulent slip” on his TalkSh*te radio show…

  51. Terry Shedingham says:

    @Walter Eagle

    They probably had new strips to sell. I remember a similar situation in an England-France game a few years ago where both wore their away kits

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