Has Twitter or tactics killed off the mavericks of football?
These days a failed trick leads to memes for days. And there’s no space for mavericks at Manchester City.
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Flair is dead and social media is to blame
The same people who want ‘mavericks’ are the ones who get offended when Neymar tries a rainbow, Vinicius does some showboating/dancing or Antony does a spinny spin. They are all outraged and then a failed trick is followed by a thousand memes across all platforms and the player termed a ‘fidget spinner’ or showboating donkey or a waste of space & in some cases plain racist abuse. Pages and fans alike go ruthlessly to troll such players if even a small mistake is made.
That is the real reason there are no more flair players, because social media has killed any joy left in football. Honestly everyone is waiting to pounce on a player’s mistake and be the ‘funny guy’ behind a keyboard.
I absolutely LOVE players who try outrageous tricks in a football match, the (failed) Vinicius rainbow attempt will stay in my memory far more than either of the two excellent goals in that match. I loved it when CR7 turned it up or Messi danced around defenders. Flicks, tricks and more are what bring joy to the game (see Arsenal goal v Norwich). But they are insanely difficult to pull off in a professional match, and the social media trolls and PFMs make sure to take away any of that joy by insulting, disregarding and degrading any player who chooses to do so and fails.
On another note, I actually love seeing Antony play (even though he is a bit shit and his finishing is one of the worst in the league), just because you know he is going to try something and that builds up some excitement when he is on the ball. Same with Saint-Maximin last year or so when he decided to turn it up. May there be a day when flair football makes a comeback and football is an absolute joy to watch again.
…I couldn’t agree more with AdidasMUFC’s post about the lack of entertainers in today’s game. I too pine for the days where near every side had a maverick number 10 who could score a worldie at any time or pull some magic out of nowhere.
I feel a large part of this is due to the modern-day obsession with pressing which requires players to run harder and more than back in the day. Most coaches nowadays don’t like players they can’t predict or control on the pitch. They’d rather have 11 mindless zombies running at full pelt for 90 minutes than allow a player a little creative freedom to play the beautiful game as it should be.
Bring back the days of Maradona, Baggio, Totti, Cantona & co. They’re sorely missed in today’s sterile and predictable football.
…I think this is an interesting topic, but it’s not as drastic as you think. In this world, only the best get remembered. (see what I did there?) You don’t really remember the flops, the supposed ‘heirs’ of this player and that. It’s the same thing with music. People harp on and on about how shit music is today, but no one listens to the bad 80’s songs. No, only the best survive the test of time. In 20 years, we’ll all look back at this era’s music and we’ll realize that it wasn’t so bad.
Since every player is microanalyzed down to their piss particles, the game has transitioned from an emphasis around a creative attacking player to a more stat-based approach. And I’ll admit, Pep’s teams bore the living shit out of me. But hey, who am to judge? It works. Like Kevin said, the thrilling to the practical.
However, there’s a reason why Man City haven’t quite succeeded in Europe yet. At the end of the game, when they’ve had 95% possession and the opponents been chasing shadows all game, there will be one player who just says f**k this. I find Man City are boring because of this. Most of the time, there is no player who will do that. Yes, De Bruyne is brilliant, somehow, I find it’s just not the same. Players like Ronaldinho, Best, Kaka, took on their side’s creative burdens and flourished. They played thrilling, entertaining football.
That is not absent in football today, there is just a little bit less focus on them. Take Leao, Vini, Nkunku, even Havertz before Chelsea. You’d turn a game on just to see them play. That hasn’t changed, but I think the scouting at age 4, the statistical view on the game, and the media has led to players playing it more safe as they don’t want to be ridiculed. This has led to less creative freedom, and less fun overall. One of the reasons I loved Neymar and Ronaldinho was because they were always laughing, always having fun. It was infectious. It’s not as if we haven’t had thrilling players in the past few years – Coutinho, Hazard, Sancho were all premium attacking talents.
Anyway, all of this to say, be patient. There is a current crop of players who will mature into amazing, gorgeous players. Kvaradona, Musiala, Garnacho, Diaz, are all amazing players for the future. They press, they track back, they score, they run at the defense. The maverick is not dead. It’s just evolved.
Ben, Chelsea – Chelsea to win the Champions League next year
Dennis not a maverick
As great a player as he was, I think very few people would describe Bergkamp as a ‘maverick’. He was far too professional, clinical and for that.
Also, given his well documented fear of flying, he definitely couldn’t be Maverick!
What a bloody season
With the final day to decide the dreaded drop for the worst performing teams and just about everything else sorted I thought back to what we have witnessed in the football world over the last 12 months…and loyalty to any team aside, this has genuinely been one of the best I can remember (since 1999). So in no particular order , these are the highlights and memories that bought the biggest smiles and put football back as the best distractions in tricky times for us all.
The moment the GOAT was crowned
The BEST football final I can ever remember.
The tight margins of England vs France England were “unlucky“ for once.
The phenomenal lionesses and their legacy.
Wrexham’s league and cup story and its truly likeable Hollywood structured ownership
Brighton: What a great owner and manager model looks like.
Villa, Brentford, Fulham. As above.
Chelsea. The total opposite of the above.
Spurs. See above.
Newcastle. A great way to have wealth, invest it properly and Dan Burn.
Southampton and the comedy genius of Nathan Jones.
Leeds and the real life Ted Lasso.
Sheffield. Respect to both teams whatever the outcome of the play off final.
Remembering the Nunez vs Haaland debate after the Charity shield.
That Blue Viking.
The collapse of Klopp’s all conquering midfield and the consequence of letting Mane leave.
Ten Hag vs Ronaldo. Only Piers Morgan knows the real winner.
Ten Hag watching Maguire for 2 games and making a decision.
Neville on Utd’s desperation purchase of Casemiro.
Carragher condemnation of a central defender under 6ft who went on to win the World Cup.
Lukaku punching the plastic out as the Golden Generation rusted away.
Uncle Roy’s return.
Brendan. At least he still has that portrait of himself.
Bellingham. A man beyond his youthful years.
VAR and some of the strangest decisions.
VAR and the influence of the Dinar
Extra extra extra time..
That gorgeous coat wrapped around the GOAT.
Martinez “accepting” his Golden glove prize.
Graham Potter’s magic makeover.
Pogba returning to make Juventus the greatest team in Europe.
The concept of fans entering a premier club next year through a back garden if Luton can finish this.
So many batshit appointments in the 39 head coaches and managers for 20 teams in the Premier league alone this season.
(Make it 40 – Ed)
La Liga and the veneer of the Spanish league coming away to reveal a truly ugly racist and financially bereft league.
Trying to predict next season top 4
What. A. Season
Chris (not expecting to derail Pep’s treble, but it will be f**ing funny if we can)
Worried about this Liverpool summer
Now the season is drawing to an end, thoughts immediately turn to how this Liverpool summer re-build will go and hopefully will get back to previous levels of football with the right recruitment. Which leads me onto my concerns over the imminent appointment of Schmadtke in his initial 3 month appointment to over see this critical re-build.
Seems strange to bring in someone with the sole focus of looking at players in Germany. Looking at his previous work, his signings don’t inspire much confidence. He paid money for Weghorst for one. Although to be fair, he did fairly well at Wolfsburg before moving to Burnley, but still. My initial thoughts were, ok, the Bundesliga could be a fruitful place to get players from. Would rather this than shopping in the Dutch market like other clubs seem to, which is hit and miss as for every Gakpo there is an Antony.
Now am not so sure the German market is quite as fruitful as it seems, and is marginally more hits than misses than the Dutch league. Players like Werner, Havertz, Keita and Sancho, to name a few have looked brilliant in Germany, only to be various levels of poor in the premier League.
Add in the fact that apart from Ryan Gravenberch, we don’t seem to be looking that much in the Bundesliga, unless there is things going on behind the scenes that have been kept out the press and rumour mills, which is entirely possible the way we operate in the market.
Seems a big call and a limited focus for a big summer, that we have to get right.
READ: Liverpool signings from Bundesliga ranked as transfer chief Schmadtke targets German market
Football moves in cycles
A lot of talk in the Mailbox recently discussing the domination of Manchester City by achieving five top flight league titles in six years, and how this is the end of competitive football as we know it. City are actually the third team to manage this feat. Liverpool (’79-’84 – who actually won seven in nine) and Manchester United (’96-’01) are the other teams. During these years the teams won a raft of other trophies, doubles, trebles and five European Cups between them.
Football has periods of dominance, but they always fall away at some point (at least in the English league), so lets all just calm down and appreciate another exceptional manager doing exceptional things. As numerous people have pointed out, you need more than money and alleged financial shenanigans to create a successful team. Pep has definitely led a charmed life during his career, effectively managing the best team in every league he’s worked in. However, in England there are more teams on the same level financially, and could anyone really see a different outcome had he gone to United, Chelsea or Liverpool?
DF (welcoming our new football overlords)
Equality? That’s fantasy football
Money helps and rightfully so. Nothing in this world is fair and equal probably because it is just meant to be like that. My more capable colleague sitting in front of me earns more than I do and hence could afford and drive a Maserati. My less capable colleague sitting behind me earns lesser than I do but could still afford and drive a Ferrari because he has a rich father. I could only afford a Toyota Corolla and naturally, I always arrive last at our dinner hangout place when we race off from the office.
Clubs with bigger stadiums and more fans can earn more and spend more. Clubs with richer owners can spend more too. This is the reality of real-life football now, and the reality of real-life football in the future.
Clubs with higher spending power will have higher chances of attracting better players who are capable of earning it. If you are Haaland and have his kind of ability, would you rather earn £500k a week at Man City and play alongside De Bruyne and Foden, or £50k a week at Nottingham Forest and play alongside, with no disrespect, Lingard and Shelvey? It’s a clear choice, unless you have a special reason for doing otherwise (e.g. staying at your boyhood club and rejecting more money and better chances at trophies with your rival clubs).
Players like Gerrard and Totti are rare to come by. We respect and salute them for their loyalty. But there is also nothing wrong with wanting to achieve as much sporting achievements (and money) during your short lifespan as a sportsman.
If you are still advocating for a fair and level-playing field, I suggest you play Fantasy Premier League (“FPL”). For the benefit of those who are not familiar with FPL, this is an online game that casts you in the role of a fantasy manager of Premier League players, where you pick a team of players to collect points based on how they perform in real-life games each week (i.e. goals, assists, clean sheets, etc.) You play against other fantasy managers who have exactly the same fixed budget as you have to spend. If you have afford Haaland, so can all your fellow fantasy managers. Sounds good? This is fantasy, and as the name suggest, will never be a reality.
End cynical fouls please
I’m with Howard from this morning’s mailbox and his opinion on cynical fouls. I hate to see it, even when it’s my team doing it. Obviously there are situations when I’m glad Fabinho has once again done it, but I still don’t like it.
I don’t think a red card is the best idea though. Not a bad one by any stretch and I reckon it would probably work, but I think it would simply lead to players trying harder to look like they are actually going for the ball and giving the referee a harder decision to make.
My suggestion is simply to move the point from where the freekick is taken. Stones wipes out Thiago just before he sends a 30-yard pass upfield to Salah? Fine, the freekick is taken 30 yards closer to goal (as long as Salah is onside, can’t have players hanging around on the edge of the box). If that brings it into shooting range, great. In the majority of situations, it would take away most of the advantage the fouling team would get from being able to re-organise as the attacking team is much further up the pitch and may be able to cross into the box/shoot. Oh, and issue the yellow card as normal too.
The only real downside I can think of is that there will be a lot of occasions where the fouled team might not gain to much of a yard advantage, but I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for players to start staying further up the pitch.
Any other issues the mailbox can think of?