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Football Thread 2016/17


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39 minutes ago, Timmo said:


He is without question one of the best goalscorers of all time but that doesn't necessarily make him one of the best players and that's the point being made. No-one mentions Gerd Muller during these best player debates.


It's extremely subjective but it's easy to see why people think different things about Ronaldo because much of his success is down to hard work rather than natural talent. You get the impression he would excel in almost any sport due to his attitude and body whereas Messi and Iniesta are such natural footballers.


It's not even that for me, it's more that there are 11 players in a team, so if you say anyone who is an "all time great" is in the top few hundred then fair enough, otherwise it should be one striker in the top 10 and so on really. But people always tend to lean towards overpraising strikers. Things like goal scoring as well, you look at the stats and see Messi and Ronaldo all over the top charts and some think "Best goal scorers ever!" whereas an equally valid response would be "Well that league is incredibly unequal/is appalling at defending".

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Gerd Muller was an excellent poacher but Ronaldo has always had more to his game than that, even in recent years with his diminished all-round game. He's one of the greatest athletes of all time in terms of wringing every last ounce of performance from his game that he possibly could, through sheer determination to be the best.


There are quite a few footballers more naturally talented, more skilful, and more aesthetically pleasing than him (like Iniesta). But they're not better than him.

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On 07/09/2016 at 12:51, The Fox said:

Gerd Muller was an excellent poacher but Ronaldo has always had more to his game than that, even in recent years with his diminished all-round game. He's one of the greatest athletes of all time in terms of wringing every last ounce of performance from his game that he possibly could, through sheer determination to be the best.


There are quite a few footballers more naturally talented, more skilful, and more aesthetically pleasing than him (like Iniesta). But they're not better than him.


We might be arguing different things. By 'better' do you mean 'more effective' in single moments or that all the qualities Christiano Ronaldo has makes up for his weaknesses. Because his effectiveness in terms of goals is all it is, he isn't influential or the difference for his teams. I think they are better at football than him. It's nothing to do with 'skill, being more aesthetically pleasing', they are just better at football at its essence.


People seem to measure consistency as the most important thing, but then only calculate that by goals scored, play rubbish but score and you're still great. Midfielders dont have that luxury of being able to lean on single moments like that. Neville put it well when comparing Gerrard and Lampard and Scholes. Carragher; I think Gerrard is better because he scored goals in big games. Neville; Gerrard scored in big games, but Scholes won leagues. He controlled the game late on to allow United to apply pressure to get the late winner. 


You take an average team and put in Christiano Ronaldo, he is wholly relient on service to put away chances that as the tournaments show he's not efficient at doing. Yes more than a poacher, but he doesn't even have free kicks in his game anymore. You take an average team and put in any one of the great midfielders, and the side is transformed, everyone is made better through their presence. Portugal won the final without Ronaldo, and got there despite his wastefulness in front of goal not because of the chances he put away. 


I don't consider heading the ball as what defines football. It's a part of the game, can win you a match, but if football is about how in tune you are with the ball, how well your brain is at communicating to your feet to respond intuitively, you can be having a mere of a game in that regard and yet still leap high to score a headed winner. You can be better at football in a game that is 0-0 by your good positioning, good awareness, pass completion rate, never losing the ball, chances created, passes forward, than the attacker who loses the ball every time he receives it but who can reach up in the 90th minute to score the winner. Like Zlatan in the charity shield. (just an example, not calling out Zlatan too)


These midfielders are better at football because they are always at one with ball, and need to be switched on throughout. Ronaldo as an attacker can coast, not worry about his positioning every single second, not worry about always being available to receive but not lose it and keep the play going. Most of us play football, it's hard to do it, in terms of operating 360%. You've got to have such good balance and composure. It's easier to receive the ball high up the pitch with only opposition ahead of you and switch it on temporarily, with pace and directness, and no issue if you lose the ball.


think Busquets is better at football than Ronaldo in terms of how I define it. Not more effective purely in terms of goals scored, but better at the fundamentals of football. If I'm picking a 5 a side team of pros, I'm picking him before Ronaldo, which might be unfair because there's no heading, but I think he'll never lose the ball, always be in the right place. We'll concede less with him. With Ronaldo I just think give him no space and he'll be weakened. 


The true measure of these players is that, as I said above, take out Iniesta and Barcelona struggle, as in the matches above, I can't find better examples. But a team can find another pacey player, who can header the ball well and make runs, and be direct. Who is going to link midfield with the attack? With Argentina the reason Messi isn't as effective and looks heavy legged is because his defenders don't have pace, so don't push up as high like at Barcelona, Messi has to drop deep to pick up the ball, cover more ground, ends up further from goal. 


It's not even all about flair and skill, otherwise Isco would be running the Real Madrid midfield and he's unfortunately not, because he's yet to mature into a player who can dictate a game like Iniesta can. Messi too like Isco was the individual dribbling rascal, now he looks up more and searches for runs, mostly with long cross field balls to Alba and Neymar. The knack for positioning and correct decision making that is even harder to define. Mascherano has said something about Barcelona's collapse last season, that playing game after game wears you down not physically but mentally, it just starts to affect the hundreds of split second decisions you make during a game that means you're either on top for most of it or chasing, or being on top and creating clear chances or just going through the motions ineffectively. Enrique's lack of squad rotation throughout the season is what caused that collapse.


Some words by Guardiola about Iniesta



“We never seem to treat Andrés the way we should; we don’t seem to recognise him. He’s the absolute business as a player,” Guardiola says. “He never talks about himself, never demands anything, but people who think he’s satisfied just to play are wrong. If he thought he could win the Balon d’Or one year, he’d want to win it. Why? Because he’d say to himself: ‘I’m the best.’


“I think Paco defined him perfectly,” Guardiola says. Paco Seirulo was Barcelona’s former physical coach, the man from whom Lorenzo Buenaventura learnt; now Guardiola makes Seirulo’s description his own. “Andrés is one of the greats. Why? Because of his mastery of the relationship between space and time. He knows where he is at every moment. Even in a midfield where he’s surrounded by countless players, he chooses the right path every time. He knows where and when, always. And then he has this very unique ability to pull away. He pulls out, then brakes, then pulls out again, then brakes again. There are very few players like him.

“There are footballers who are very good playing on the outside but don’t know what to do inside. Then there are players who are very good inside but don’t have the physique, the legs, to go outside. Andrés has the ability to do both. When you’re out on the touchline, like a winger, it is easier to play. You see everything: the mess, the crowd, the activity is all inside. When you play inside, you don’t see anything in there because so much is happening in such a small space and all around you. You don’t know where the opposition is going to come at you from, or how many of them. Great footballers are those who know how to play in both of those environments. Andrés doesn’t only have the ability to see everything, to know what to do, but also the talent to execute it; he’s able to break through those lines. He sees it and does it.


“I’ve been a coach for a few years now and I have come to the conclusion that a truly good player is always a good player,” Guardiola says. “It’s very hard to teach a bad player to be a good one. You can’t really teach someone to dribble. The timing needed to go past someone, that instant in which you catch out your opponent, when you go past him and a new scenario opens up before you … Dribbling is, at heart, a trick, a con. It’s not speed. It’s not physique. It’s an art.”


Lorenzo Buenaventura says: “What happens is that Andrés brakes. That’s the key, the most important thing. People say: ‘Look how quick he is!’ No, no, that’s not the point. It’s not about speed, about how fast he goes; what it’s really about is how he stops and when, then, how he gets moving again.”


Guardiola adds: “Tito Vilanova defined him very well. Tito used to say: ‘Andrés doesn’t run, he glides. He’s like an ice hockey player, only without skates on. Sssswishhh, sssswishhh, sssswishhhh …’ That description is evocative, very graphic, and I think it’s an accurate one. He goes towards one side as if he was skating, watching everything that’s going on around him. Then, suddenly, he turns the other way with that smoothness he has. Yes, that’s it, Andrés doesn’t run, he glides.”


Guardiola admits, “I came to really value something else Andrés does, something that he had made me see with time: the importance of attacking the centre-backs. No one does it. But watch and you see it. If the central defender has to step out, everything opens up; the whole defence becomes disorganised and spaces appear that weren’t there before. It’s all about breaking through lines to find space behind them. Open, then find.


“For example, we set up our attack so that Leo Messi could attack the central defenders,” Guardiola explains. “We had to attack in such a way as to get the ball to Andrés and Leo so that they could attack the central defenders and that opened them up. When we managed that, we knew that we would win the game because Leo scored goals and Andrés generated everything else: dribbling, numerical superiority, the ability to unbalance the game, the final pass, both to the outside and filtered through the middle. He sees it all and he has that gift for dribbling that’s so unique to him. That dribbling ability is everything today. And it was Andrés who opened my eyes to the importance of an inside forward or midfielder being able to dribble too. If he dribbles, if he carries the ball and goes at people, everything flows. With time, I saw that.”


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You need balance.


A very creative midfield  without good forwards will lack cutting edge, unless they have a couple of monsters like Platini or Zico in there who could dictate AND score loads, even then it'll be tough to get the goals sometimes.A team with a workmanlike or ordinary midfield but virtuoso forwards will need to be tactically astute to avoid the Pele or Messi upfront being starved of service.That's not even getting into defence, management or keeping.


If you take Spain's recent success as an ideal example, being they were a very balanced side with quality throughout.They would have been highly unlikely to win 3 tournaments if you replaced Xavi, Iniesta, Silva with some decent workhorses...they might have won one at most because it's not been that strong an era internationally.But i'd contend they would be just as unlikely to have won 3 if you kept the great midfield but replaced the also great David Villa(or even Torres for 2008 before he became a liability) with someone like Aleksandr Kerzhakov or Steven Fletcher.


At the end of the day you have to score goals to win games and have a few players that score quite a lot to win leagues.No amount of marginalising of a striker\forward skillset(and i'm much more of a playmaker man myself too) can get away from that.







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On 07/09/2016 at 20:23, spork said:

I remember when he was great on one of the old versions of football manager.


He was great, I think it might have been the same one where Robbie Keane was The Greatest Striker Ever too.

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8 minutes ago, feltmonkey said:

Under Ferguson, away teams didn't get in our penalty area. :)


This is a fantastic game. City are clearly the better team and deserve to be ahead, but you wouldn't be surprised to see United score.


Ha, fair point. If only that were 100% true.


Yeah, it's been a great great game to watch. 


Not doubting the tackle on Rooney wasn't a penalty but I've no sympathy for Rooney when he doesn't get a decision. He's had enough games where he's been given lenient treatment.

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