The Devolution of Football
Whilst this sport has seen massive strides forward off the pitch such as the (attempted) eradication of racism, hooliganism and negative fanaticism surrounding said sport, the way the game is played has also changed with the times. Although change is to be expected, it’s not necessarily always for the better.
In the 80s and the 90s, football was, in this writer’s opinion, at its best, both tactically and physically. Back when defensive shrewdness was just as important as efficient counter-attacking or ball possession, the majority of teams around the world played to score as well as to keep a clean sheet. Individual brilliance was abundant, however increased tactical discipline meant that there was less egoism in the air back then and players focused more on collective success rather than chasing individual accolades.
When the Premier League started to rise financially and successfully during the early 2000s, a shift of playing style was seen throughout Europe where attacking contributions were preferred over defensive ones, rather than balancing out talent altogether. This led to speed and stamina being preferred over accuracy, ball control and vision, which, in this writer’s opinion, decreased the quality in football altogether. This led to the Premier League being widely known for a league with lots of goals, yet it’s also the league which experiences the worst defensive howlers.
When Pep Guardiola took over the reigns at Barcelona, a tactical revolution saw the introduction of the now famous ‘tiki taka’ strategy. Guardiola’s reasoning was that a match cannot be lost if you keep constant control of the ball, which is accurate in certain cases. In fact, thanks to this strategy, Barcelona experienced a golden phase of success between 2007 and 2011.
Stay tuned this week as the second part of this article will explain further on how this writer believes that football has regressed over the years.