Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I know nothing about football but...

...I do know something about language.
Why are Croatia "technically better"? Does that mean they can pass the ball in a straight line and not give it away? Isn't that playing football? Why is it only in football that we talk about people being "technically better", as if it were some new, somehow suspect, dimension of play?
We don't talk about Australia being "technically better" at cricket. We don't say that South Africa are a "technically better" rugby team. We don't talk about Tiger Woods being a "technically better" golfer.
They're just better. Maybe a few people ought to get that into their head.


  1. Of course our lot lead the world at being over-paid under-achievers. As Joey Barton put it about last year's "Golden Generation": went to the world cup; played like shit; here's my book. It seems little has changed.

  2. Anonymous12:26 am

    It's not that simple, and they're not "just better". You can be technically better but tactically worse. You need both.

  3. Anonymous8:40 am

    Anonymous is quite right. 'Technically better' refers to the nitty gritty like accurate passing and link up play. The stuff England are incapable of at the moment.

    Man for man we have better players, but in the link up and passing they don't gel as a team, making them ultimately 'better' than us.

  4. Anonymous10:35 am

    In what way are the English players "better", if they are unable to "link up" and "pass"? As Mr Hepworth says, isn't that "playing football"?

    Clearly, there are other qualities required, but it would seem prudent to master "linking up" and "passing" before moving on to other things, in particular, being referred to as a "better player."

  5. Anonymous12:04 pm

    Anonymous is right, and David is wrong. We do talk about "technically better" teams in other sports. It's not just a question of tactics, but also mental qualities, and physical attributes. "Technical" refers to technique. You can gifted at dribbling, passing and ball retention, but if you can be pushed off the ball by a fitter, faster, stronger player, you may not be a better footballer overall.

    We do indeed say Australia are a "technically better" cricket team than most/all others, because their abilities at playing the ball, and bowling are exemplary. But their mentality and fitness also play a part in their dominance. (India are a technically good team who are less resiliant).

  6. Slaven Bilic after the game: "I like your team, and I like your players, but wake up! You didn't lose because of your tactics - you lost because we are a better team that you!"

    Absolutely spot-on.

  7. Anonymous2:55 pm

    I think the "technically better" issue relates to a general suspicion of Johnny Foreigner. We Brits are supposed to be about passion etc.

    Others, not from these isles, do not have the passion but instead cheat by being better at passing, trapping the ball, dribbling and other skills that require patience, dedication and practice.

    Passion of course requires none of that and is therefore attractive to the overpaid English footballer enabling them to get on with the serious stuff of car buying and house hunting.

    What we need is passion and technical ability. A bit like the rugby team who may not have been genius's of the game but did have the ability to do the simple things well and with the required passion.

  8. Anonymous3:37 pm

    Anonymous - whoever you are - when I say 'man for man' I mean if you compared each England player with his Croatian counterpart and played Top Trumps, in most cases the England players would win out. Individually they are better players.

    But when it comes to performing as a team, Croatia were vastly superior. Embarassingly so. Our team is terrible, our players aren't. And the fault for that lies mainly with McLaren.

    Having said that, I don't envy then man that has come into the team to unite this talented but thick bunch of berks.

  9. why is the manager so important in football? People always act as if highly paid players who have played the sport since they could walk, couldn't act all without micro-management from the coach. Usually with odd exception the team on the pitch is the one most people would pick, isn't it up to the players to actual play. Yes managers have a role but self motivation, professionalism and pride from the players is needed. I think it's good that english football has been denied going to the finals, it's a forlorn hope that removing the Fa and players head from this lucrative trough will force them to sort themselves out. Particularly as they want to hold a home championship instead so they can milk the cash cows of the public and tv rights some more. I'm going to stop now as the animal metaphors are getting out of hand. ps I stopped watching the match halfway through last night in disgust and went to see British sea power play instead; a far more wonderfull way to spend 90 minutes.

  10. Anonymous9:32 am

    It just plays to the whole xenophobic, patronising superior English mentality. 'We' have hearts of oak, staunch, fearless, naturally better players (somehow or other). They, on the other hand, have effete, wimpy, lucky players with funny names, though let's be fair they have some 'technical' skills, those Johnny Foreigners. Still, we have 'world class' players, which they obviously don't, and 'we' 'deserve' to be at top tournaments, which they also don't, and we will win it one day, which they won't, because we are English, which they aren't. And whoever wins it next year will be lucky, not very good, who cares anyway, but probably technically 'quite good' - which is obviously no subsitute for being properly good, like us.World class, in fact.

  11. One point I'd disagree with David about is the idea that we don't use terms like "technically good" in rugby. Japan, for example, have always played technically beautiful rugby, in the sense that they have good scrummage technique, handling and passing skills, etc; they get hammered by the big teams because they simply aren't big enough. Contrariwise, Fiji's game, though vastly improved in "technical" areas, is still shaky - but they have a lot of players with uncommon gifts of flair, ability to do the unexpected, power, and so on.

    Where I agree is in regard to football: if you keep giving the ball away, you're just playing bad football, end of story. The grudging respect accorded the Croatia team made me wince: they outplayed England all over the field, came to attack despite not needing to, and could have scored several more goals. And they're ranked higher. So Alan Hanson saying something like "they were good but they're nothing special [the implication being England could have beaten them easily had they been on form]" is a joke.