This blog is born of the idea that when it comes to football journalism, what happens on the pitch is more important than what happens in the reporter’s head.
Too often, British football journalism is strangled by the desire to impose a narrative upon proceedings after the event. As history is always written by the victors, so it is with football. The result is that conveniently glib explanations are applied to extremely complex circumstances. Why did Liverpool fall off the pace in the 2008-09 Premier League? Because Rafael Benitez lost the plot. Why haven’t Arsenal won anything since 2005? Because they’re too young and fragile. Why did England get knocked out of the 1998 World Cup? Because David Beckham got sent off.
The reality is that the outcome of a football match – and, by extension, a football season – is governed by an enormous variety of interacting forces. Every single touch of the ball, every ricochet or bad bounce, could change the course of a match, a season, even a whole career.
Accordingly, every second of a football match represents a myriad of possibilities. Every decision taken by every player at every second of the game changes the course of that game irrevocably. Every attempted dribble, tackle, pass and shot is Gwyneth Paltrow hurtling towards the tube train in Sliding Doors.
One constant theme amid the disorder is the tactical plan that each side is trying to follow and it’s my belief that a study of tactics brings you closer to an understanding of how and why teams win and lose than any other means. Off-pitch events certainly have an impact, but the outcome of a match can only be decided by what happens on the pitch.
This blog will therefore serve as a voyage of tactical discovery. I hope that by diligently studying how the game is played I can arrive at a better understanding of the tactical, physical and psychological forces that determine who wins and who loses.
I’ll also be serving up the regular football blog staples of videos, reaction, players to look out for and the odd bit of breaking news, with particular emphasis on the major European leagues and next summer’s World Cup.