Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Football & Film reading...

The Kicking Culture, part III

Some things are completely predictable. On cue, British players and managers are coming forward to offer support to Ryan Shawcross, the player responsible for breaking the leg of the extremely talented and promising 19 year old Aaron Ramsey. Only in English football can people who commit wrong be seen as victims. On the other hand, nothing is being said of Ramsey, the person whose future seemed so bright. Now, one can only wish that Ramsey recovers as soon as possible.

Thankfully there are a few intelligent and sane voices who are standing up. Martin Samuel of the Times puts things perfectly:
Yet malicious intent - the motivation to actually cause serious injury - is rare in football. One thinks of Roy Keane’s tackle on Alf Inge Haaland in the Manchester derby or the one by Gavin Maguire of Queens Park Rangers that ended the career of England full back Danny Thomas, and resulted in a compensation pay-out of £130,000.

Shawcross did not tackle Ramsey like that. He did however arrive late and with sufficient abandon to lose any chance of controlling the consequences. The greatest sickness in English football is that we do not recognise the wrong in that. 'Spare me about how nice Shawcross is,' Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said acidly; but the testimonials to his decency were already under construction.

But Martin Samuel's words are rare to find in both English and American media. One has to turn to various Arsenal blogs to find the truth.

DannyT is spot on as usual in his Arsenal Truth blog:
The only way the truly talentless can make a career for themselves in the Premier League is by replacing their lack of skill and technique with aggression and antagonism - anti-football. Why applaud that? What's that got to do with "the beautiful game"? Last time I heard, football was about 22 players kicking a ball around - not 11 players kicking the ball around while various others players try to impede them through intimidation, ferociousness and long throw-ins.

How many more Aaron Ramsey's do we have to witness before the FA grows a spine and drives this scourge out of the game.

And why do pundits applaud these tactics? For the life of me, I've never understood it. There is only one thing to applaud in football, skill! I'm not saying there is no place for the well-timed tackle, high-speed closing down, a shoulder barge or some grappling in the box - but there is never a reason to break a players leg. To break a players leg requires considerable force, the type of force that is never warranted or required to win a small round ball in a tackle - except perhaps in the most freakish of incidents, once every 20 years! Not three times in three years for one club, it's obscene.

Plenty of excellent evidence is gathered by Tim at 7amkickoff & Arseblog which show that Shawcross is a chronic leg breaker and not the nice guy the media is painting him to be. It is sad that the media are not doing the objective journalistic job they are meant to do and are instead so biased.


It is extremely rare to find any discussion of football tactics in British papers as most soccer related articles are centered on a player's "commitment", "attitude" and "character". Yet, none of these things would matter if a team is not tactically prepared to handle an opponent. Which is why Jonathan Wilson's articles are so welcome because he breaks a game down in terms of the tactical details. Heck, he ever wrote an insightful book on the history of soccer tactics (Inverting the Pyramid). His newest article sees him outline Egypt's 3-5-2 formation prior to their match against England.


There's a brand spanking new issue of Indian Auteur out. The online magazine format certainly makes for a beautiful reading experience. On the other hand, one can access the articles via individual links. The Notes on Directors and Director's Report Card gives a worthy run down of current Indian directors plying their trade. And just like bad football, the bad directors continue to hog the headlines.

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