Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hey guys sorry i haven't written anything I've been swamped with coursework at school. Great game last night with Rooney putting a great performance despite all the media hoo-hah. Carrick was exceptional making 95% of his passes! Hopefully we can take the advantage back to old trafford, if we can maintain or increase our lead we have a great chance of making the final as Schalke (Who will probably go through after beating Inter) are definitely beatable :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Newbies Guide to How Manchester United Play

I'd like to eventually put together a little 'e-booklet' to impart just enough football knowledge for your average Joe-never-kicked-a-ball to be able to enjoy and discuss a match as much as Joe soccer fan. I'll start off with some rough posts and hopefully after I've gained a few fans and a bit of blogging experience I can go back and make this.

If you have any criticisms, questions, or bits of advice i'd love to hear them please drop me a comment!

One thing keeping people from getting into the soccer when they have little experience of it is that to them it just looks like 22 men running around aimlessly. The truth is a lot different - unless you support Wigan FC -, top level players spend hours and hours practicing tactics until they can play a move without even looking* and thus I'll try and explain very simply some of the common positions and runs players make by describing a typical Manchester United side. Please excuse the rather illogical number system I used! 

Manchester United mostly use a '442' formation (4 defenders, 4 midfielders, 2 forwards). As you can see from the diagram, however, the wingers (8 and 9) often play very high up the pitch whilst the midfielders drop further back to compensate defensively. Some people thus call Sir Alex Ferguson's tactic a '424'. I'll go through the players:

(NB)Each player will usually be marked directly by an opposition one for the vast majority of the game, usually when a 442 plays another this means the 2 defenders central defenders will each be responsible for an opposition forward the wide defenders (full backs) will watch out for the opponents wingers.

  • 3 and 4              Centre backs need acceleration, jumping height, concentration and strength. Vidic and Rio Ferdinand form perhaps the best centre back partnership in the world: Vidic is the 'stopper' closing down, outmuscling the opposition and attacking the ball whilst Rio uses his experience and vision to drop back and block runs and shots in the rare event Vidic doesn't cut the attack out.

  • 2 and 5               Rafael (brazil arrow) and Evra (france arrow) are the quintessential modern fullbacks. They rely on pace and stamina to sprint out of defence and into midfield - allowing the wingers (8 and 9) to push forward into goal scoring postitions. Whilst Rafael usually cuts his runs short and crosses the ball towards the forwards, Evra often performs an 'overlap' whereby he outruns the player marking him and up past his winger to allow the winger an easy pass past his marker.
  • 6                      Central midfields made up of two men will usually have a more defensive player and one with more license to attack. Carrick plays the defensive role, and will drop back into the box to head out crosses or close down wingers that evade the fullbacks.
  • 9 Nani or Valencia. Nani can use both feet equally well and often 'cuts inside' (dribbles into the centre of the pitch towards the box) to take shots or take a short pass to a teammate, he can play on the left or right. Valencia's left foot isn't great but he is insanely fast: sports scientists at the club worked out that if he could maintain his top speed on a 100m track he would outrun Usain Bolt (Seriously!) He uses this to blitz past defenders and crosses or plays a short pass into the middle of the box when he reaches the byline. These wingers benefit from the long aerial passes spread out to them by Rooney and Carrick.
  • 10 Rooney roams all over the pitch, he especially drops into midfield when United need to keep the ball and runs wide to outnumber fullbacks and pull centre backs out of position.
  • 11 Berbatov is a great hold up player: he's incredibly skilled at controlling long passes and good at keeping the ball despite being outnumbered by defenders until support arrives. Chicharito is very different, constantly making runs between defenders pushing them back and thus making space available for his teammates to operate. See how in this video he floats around 3 different markers for the first goal, causing a moments confusion he exploits with a great header. The otherworldly acceleration from deep means that despite his marker having several meters head start over him, the balls in the net before he can even move.

*(Sometimes this leads to players 'passing the ball to noone' - 90% of the time this is due to a player trying to instigate a pre-planned move and his teammate not realising. Soccer's a fast game and inside a noisy stadium communications often break down.)  

I hope this has been helpful to anyone wanting to learn football tactics from scratch, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Newbie Guide To Football/Soccer

I've noticed i get a lot of viewers from America on my blog. It's great to see football/soccer finally gaining recognition across the Atlantic, and it works both ways: the Superbowl was on TV over here a few months back and that got a lot of people talking about it - a big group of young kids at my school even playing it every break now! Don't really know what the Black Eyed Peas were there for but i guess that's a cultural bridge that we can cross a little later on!

I thought I'd put a few keystrokes into explaining why we love footballsoccer so much over here, and try and convince anyone who thinks otherwise!

Great atmospheres mean great nights. Being with some sets of fans is like being in a medieval army. It may be animalistic and uncivilised, but roaring along with 50,000 accomplices sure makes you feel alive.
Knowing one kick could send hundreds of thousands of fans out onto the street for a party so debauched it would make Vikings look sensible. Knowing one slip could lose everything your team worked for.
Knowing your rivals will sing songs about you for ****ing up and gifting them the win. Knowing 100-250million people are watching world wide (for Champions League Final. Anything between 500-900million have been cited for the World Cup Final - estimates of numbers vary wildly)

Children over here grow up dreaming of being footballers, not soldiers or rockstars or politicians. 'Hero' to them is scoring the winning goal.

This is Liverpool, I have a friend that support them, so I've never really loathed them as much as I should as a United fan. This video is a demonstration of how quickly football can turn around:

They're 3-0 down in the first half of the Champions League final thanks to Kaka - the Brazilian who later went on to be named World Player of the Year; pulling the strings for AC Milan - the second most successful team in European football - a team whose president is and was the Italian Prime Minister himself. This is how Liverpool responded to a game commentators rightly described as 'over' with 45 minutes yet to play.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

England vs Ghana

Recently the English media have been kicking off over Fabio Capello's decision not to play his first team for this friendly match and decided that such a thing was 'scamming everyone who bought tickets to see the game'. Barely half a year ago they'd been complaining about how by using the same players over and over again he wouldn't be prepared for future competitions as these players (lampard, terry, crouchie, defoe etc) creep ever closer to bus-pass age. The man can't win!

Personally I thought seeing 1930's-boy-adventurer throwback Scott Parker, hoofing winger Stewart Downing and on-fire Wolves winger Matt Jarvis in the team is brilliant, this friendly (against world cup quarter finalists dont forget!) was a great chance to show what they could bring to the table.

I thought Capello's 4141 system worked great here. Whilst normally a defensive formation - allowing wingers to cover opposition fullbacks meanwhile a holding midfield player and the defending fullback can double up on the winger; effectively snuffing out attacks down the flanks unless the opposition can switch and stretch play - here it was very fluid through the flanks. The ITV commentators called it a 433 and indeed the wingers breaking inside did produce this effect when England advanced. At a couple of points in the first half Ghana were pushed back deep, Jagielka pushed out of CB into midfield and Johnson flew up wide while Young and Downing made for the byline, 433 became a 2143 with Baines dropping back for a bit of covering speed and Barry starting play from the back with 7(!) attackers ahead of him. Recklessly attacking tactical bravery is not something you would expect from an Italian manager!
Great game!

It's weird seeing an arsenal with a bit of balls after seeing so much of the side we're used to now. From now on if anybody quotes Wenger in saying Arsenal get bullied and kicked around I'm showing them clips of this! Dirty ****s! I wouldn't want it any other way mind.

Commentators can't stop waxing lyrical about Barcelona's pressing game but when you watch old premier league game's - even first division games from 30 years ago - you're quickly reminded of just how intense the pace was before sky's worldwide coverage made us all gasp at the slow skill-obsessed wonders of the spanish la liga. Every man in possession here was charged down by the defending team like a mob of stewards after a streaker. The pace of this game made me wonder if I'd left the fast forward key on, the cameraman must have been absolutely dizzy.

John O'Shea! What A Finish!
Heinze! Couldn't defend for shite!
Keano! Don't we miss him now, what a warrior.


Hi i thought i'd make this blog to talk about my favourite football team, my favourite music and everything else that i think is awesome and think you should too :)

Now it's a bit late so i'm going to go to bed and watch Arsenal 2 United 4 from 2005