When was football’s tipping point? Plus, Rashford and more mails…

Date published: Saturday 8th January 2022 11:28 - Editor F365

Roberto Baggio playing football

We have mails on when the big change in football came, non-league football, Marcus Rashford and Philippe Coutinho.

Send more of your mails to theeditor@football365.com

 

When did football change?
This transfer window has brought home to me just how much football has changed since my youth. Talk of ‘projects’ would have seemed so alien just a few years ago.

I grew up remembering the football of the late eighties/nineties. When the Italian league ruled Europe and to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid was the ultimate ambition. Where you watched Channel four to catch glimpses of Ronaldo (no, not the pretty one) Baggio or Bierhoff.

But the Premier League is the new ‘hip’ place to be. Where players are desperate to show their skills, earn ridiculous sums and retire to commentate on the premier league in their homeland.

But, I don’t know where the tipping point came from. Where we went from muddy football pitches to world class turf. Where we went from page three girlfriends to Instagram models.

Was it the Sky money? The quick globalisation? The modern stadia post Hillsborough? The business people at the top of the clubs?

Can anyone suggest when they think Football changed?
Rob G (jumpers for goalposts? Marvellous)

 

Non-league football is fantastic
Fantastic piece by Ian King on the rise of Non-League football post-lockdown
, he is right on so many points from the fact there is no VAR, the atmosphere is always fantastic and there is also that element of home comfort, after all it is a team that play in your home town, the players are not on extravagant wages, in fact most players have a regular day job alongside playing for the hometown club it all feels very community and quite often it is exactly that.

I do believe the grounds hold a special place in all our hearts too, you do not have polished stadiums like you see in the higher tiers of the football league but quite often a simple ground placed in the middle of the town with old school retro stands, moving away from the grounds element what about the sponsors? You wont find a any crypto currency firms on the jerseys but quite often the local painter/decorator or oddly this season i have seen a funeral director on an away team’s shirt, for anyone who longs for the game of yesteryear this is the perfect place for them to be at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

When football returned in 2021 allowing fans to return properly i certainly found myself heading down to the local club, paying my £10 to watch a game of football, there may not be the same level of talent you would see in the Premier League, but there is passion, community and a great atmosphere, for £10 that is enough for me.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod (Mailbox, what is your memorable moment from watching a Non-League game?)

 

No More Red
Following in Tromso’s Amnesty-supporting QR kit footsteps on  January 7th, Arsenal launched an incredibly thought-provoking and timely campaign through their sponsors Adidas. After a heartbreaking ten thousand knife crimes in London between June 2020 and June 2021 and a record number of teenagers murdered by stabbing in the capital, Arsenal’s current, former and famous fans fronted a highly evocative and energising short video to explain their campaign and the need for it. Idris Elba, Ian Wright and players Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka shared their manifesto for change.

Walking around The Emirates, Elba kicked the video off by reminding us that,  ‘our future stars live yards from this stadium’ supported by Gooner legend Wright adding how ‘ they look to this place, as we all do, for inspiration. For Elba, ‘it’s getting harder to see, though. They’re looking elsewhere. They’re looking over their shoulder. There’s blades, there’s beef.  It’s madness. These kids are killing their future.’ Smith-Rowe challenges us by asking ‘how do we change this? ‘  and  Saka appeals to us through the power of football to, ‘change our lives.’ Ian Wright spotlights how for fans, the players wear ‘the colours they love. Let’s use them’ before all the video’s voices conclude with its key mantra of, ‘no more red.’

This is a tremendously powerful image of the red of Arsenal running through their fans’ veins and the red blood being spilt needlessly in the stadium’s surrounding streets. The power of the club shirt is the perfect catalyst for these two striking images. The draining of the shirt’s font and the barely visible logos of the club and sponsors creates a feeling of calm reflection as the normal hectoring demands to consume (while visiting Rwanda) fall silent for an hour and a half. It’s also really pleasing to see that, although in a muted colour scheme, the right sleeve has been given over to No More Red.

The game on  January 9th against Nottingham Forest in the globally iconic FA Cup third round was the campaign’s centrepiece. Whether by happy accident or design, these were the best possible opponents to share their message with. Three Forest players moved to play for Dial Square FC (Arsenal’s original name) in 1886 and brought their red Forest kits with them. Having so few funds available to launch a new kit, the Londoners decided the cheapest option was to kit the rest of the team out in the same colour as the new recruits and the knitting needles went into overdrive. The 2022 game created perfect symmetry.

It is easy to be dismissive of what looks like another shirt gimmick to boost sales and create extra planned obsolescence, but this campaign is different. The shirts cannot be bought but will be offered for free to people effecting positive change in the local communities around The Emirates. Or, as the Arsenal Twitter feed challenges its eighteen million followers:

‘You can’t buy these shirts, you earn them by doing positive things.’

After the game, the match-worn outfield shirts were presented to ten organisations working in the local areas specifically trying to repel the rising tide of pointless murder including The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, Steel Warriors and Don’t Stab Your Future (DSYF)  The next steps were the creation of safe spaces to play football and No More Red mentoring schemes where young people doing positive work in the community were supported by the video’s stars. Social media profiles of the white shirt were shared with their tens of millions of global followers and Arsenal.com eloquently explained the power of the club shirt to bring about meaningful change:

‘The shirt will become a symbol of positivity in the community, given to individuals and organisations who are giving back to the community and creating a positive environment for young people.’

Those awarded the shirts will immediately be shown as role models validated by the club that the overwhelming majority of the local community support. Where a trophy or certificate often has the unintended consequences of alienating and ridiculing the recipients from their peer groups an Arsenal shirt, especially one that cannot be bought, has tremendous currency and kudos that represents real achievement and a meaningful connection to the club that cannot be short-circuited by those with money and access. They then become, like the ever-growing number of Her Game Too shirts that fundraise for the grassroots girl’s game, beacons of hope in an otherwise desperate situation. Too many shirts have become calling cards for socially corrupting influences, but this initiative briefly wrests back the narrative to one of humanity and community.  Never underestimate the power of a club shirt to do good when handled respectfully.
Matthew R

Man Utd forward Marcus Rashford receives instructions

Rashford’s right hand man
If Ashwin has all this inside information about the goings on in Rashford’s head, his motivation levels, what he’s actually motivated by etc. why is he wasting his time emailing the mailbox when clearly he could raise the concerns directly to the player himself? He must have a direct line to the man to have access to such privileged information.

The “he’s not as good as Giggs, Beckham, Rooney” argument that is used with so many young English players who don’t reach their perceived potential. No he’s not as good, did he ever say he was? Is it his fault he’s not as good as some of the best British players ever? It’s also not his fault he isn’t living up to your expecations Ashwin. Would stopping his charity work magically make him the new Ronaldo? Of course it wouldn’t and that’s ok.

Clearly what is really hurting the contributor is the team he loves (a little too much?) are a shell of their once great selves. Every team needs a scapegoat in this situation and with Pogba out of the picture I guess it had to passed on to someone else. There are plenty of other players performing equally as bad, if not worse but they don’t have the excuse of being pre-occupied ‘feeding hungry children’ (such a throwaway line completely diminishing his impact by the way). So can we expect further mails about Maguire, Shaw, Wan Bissaka, Matic, Fernandes, Sancho and Ronaldo? I sincerely hope not, but at least it would provide some balance.

The last couple of years have ramped up the simmering toxicity in this country and it still absolutely amazes me that high profile people who have the audacity to raise their head above the parapet are subject to these kind of opinions. I guess it’s true that opinions are like arseholes in that everybody has one, it’s just some arse’s smell worse than others.
James, Kent

 

Rashford doesn’t track back, constantly loses the ball, has had an air of entitlement and acts like opposing players can’t touch him ever since he began his charity work and his off field achievements count for nothing on the pitch?

Blimey that’s quite a take.

I haven’t been able to stomach Manchester United for a quarter of a century but Marcus Rashford is the only United player I would ever applaud as he takes to the Emirates pitch.

It’s all about what you value. Some choose to bask in the reflected glory of a player who scores umpteen goals resulting in relentless silverware, while others can recognise a good man, who hasn’t forgotten his roots and just happens to play football.

Bill Shankley once said football matters more than life and death. He was wrong.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

I’m a bit confused by Ashwin’s email attacking Rashford. For a start he spends about half of it talking about how bad Rashford’s form has been as if that is the debate we have been having. I haven’t seen anyone in the mailbox saying Rashford has been playing well recently so why do we need a rehash of that?

But what really made me raise an eyebrow was the talk about how elite sportsmen focus solely on their sport and cut out distraction This is completely out of sync with reality. He mentions Kobe Bryant as an example which is hilarious because he had multiple sponsorship deals and also did extensive philanthropy as well as appearing on multiple TV series (including Moesha and Sister Sister). I’m sure you are aware of how much non-sport related things Michael Jordan did off the court. Closer to home, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo has dozens of off-field ventures including businesses and sponsorships. Ashwin has made the mistake of confusing ‘sacrifice’ with ‘cutting out all non-sports related activities’. If sporting history has shown us anything, it is clear that even the very best can mix sports with other interests.

As for the talk about Rashford whinging all the time when he plays….a certain Bruno Fernandes has been doing that since he joined (probably the number one exponent of the art in the premier league) and from what I’ve seen, United fans see it as an expression of ‘passion’ and praise him for it.  Ronaldo does it quite frequently too. How does that fit into your theory ? Seems a lot more likely that (and get ready to have your mind blown) he has been influenced by his teammates.
Turiyo Damascene. Kigali, Rwanda

 

Ashwin from the morning mail claims Rashford would struggle to get game time at Watford. No Rashford would start at Watford and all other teams bar Liverpool and Man City. Last season, Lingard, the league’s laughing stock took West Ham to Europe. Rashford is not putting in the yards and his body language has changed! Nonsense in a world where there is objective assessment of players at every turn that’s the most subjective statement anyone can make. Is the evidence for that allegation? How much he covers the pitch before and after?

His Charity work has affected his performance on the pitch! What charity work is Sancho involved in? Ooh VDB must have some needy children on his payroll! Every player has been useless save for De Gea. There is a rot at that club. A cancer that has yet to be identified. Maguire and Shaw look world beaters in their national colours but the moment they put on that cursed jerseys they look lost. It’s not Rashford who is the problem, something at that club snuffs all the confidence out of a player. Put Rashford under Klopp and see what he can do. At Arsenal we would openly welcome him.
Okembo Kenya (Arsenal)

 

All hail King Mike
A week into 2022 and there will not be a more accurate coming together of nail and hammer for the rest of the year. Well said Mike.

Bin. The. Lot.
Dave, Cork

 

Philippe Coutinho
Welcome the magician
.

It could well go the way as Bale (2nd time with Spurs) and James (Everton) but you know what, football is meant to be fun and I’m going to enjoy this.
Paul

 

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