Sunday, 13 February 2011

Player centric metric

Wayne Rooney scored a wonderful goal yesterday. Match of the Day, not the worst football show by far, concentrated on the technical execution by Rooney. It was truly an incredible strike.

But what made the goal truly special was the one touch build up. Scholes rescues the situation with a one touch ball out to Nani under pressure, and Nani delivers a sublime cross into Rooney. And nothing was said of it. Nothing. View it here from 14 minutes:

That is symptomatic of the Sky Sportsification of football in this country. In our quest for a hero we trumpet the achievement of the individual over the team.

Kenny Dalglish coming out and saying that no one man is bigger than the club was heartening.
The Messi v Ronaldo battles in recent friendlies and classicos, the focus on goal rather than build up, the journalistic quest for contrived controversy or tension... these things detract from the real beauty of the game: how to build a team of successful players. In a derby where styles are so strongly conflicting this hook was available.

Manchester United have the longest average time spent per player at any European club. Giggs and Scholes were instrumental in both goals, the second of which came from a brilliant team move. Manchester City are a hastily arranged team of expensive stars with seemingly little direction. There is no guiding light, no philosophy, no direction. And despite flashes of brilliance, they looked incredibly disjointed. In high pressure moments, feeling comfortable is key. Manchester United know each other extremely well: Manchester City feels like a 21st Century reconstruction of Babel.

The interesting issue isn't (just) a well executed volley, that every top forward could execute on the training ground.

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