Football

Pep Guardiola revolution has changed emphasis on defending

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In a world when tuneless dancers become platinum selling singers, the best shows are the ones filed with nudity, and Twitter spats are the headlines of the 'newspapers', the emphasis on those who make money is to entertain the consumer.

Anything otherwise wastes their money. It has reached football as well, though this is a change for the good. The beautiful game deserves beautiful football, and it is finally receiving it universally. There are very few teams that play to sit back and defend.

Again this is only for the better. More recently, styles of play are based on defensive stability turned into catching out the opponent with pace. Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund and favourites of this mantra. Although, for the former, this way has often been misinterpreted.

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Yes, they have at times decided not to play the game and simply frustrate the opposition, leading to web memes, and the FIFA series of games adding 'Park The Bus' as a tactic. But is this world, which is all about the excitement of entertainment, changing the way we perceive the art of defending?

For starters, counter attacks and sitting deep and being organised has long been seen as a sign of inferiority, only being used to stifle the stronger opponents, mainly being utilised by lower league teams and newly-promoted clubs.

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Defending is unpopular

The thinking behind modern managers who use the option is either to make sure of the points or to draw out the other team and punish on the counter. It is a very smart idea, but an unpopular one at times. The opinion is that it should not be used by big teams like Chelsea and Dortmund (under Jurgen Klopp), because they are stronger than most in their respective leagues. This is where the world is blinkered, they do not see the cleverness.

Tacticians like Mourinho and Klopp see his way of playing as an otherwise unexpected way to do things, rather than what has now become the generic tiki-taka. Since the Guardiola revolution of pass and move, the footballing world has become too accustomed with winning things playing only good football. But that is not all that it is, sometimes you need to grind out victories.

There has been a certain hypocrisy all the same. Arsenal, long critcised as having no plan B and being too one-dimensional, received plaudits for their stellar defensive performance in their 2-0 win over Manchester City last season. The question that springs to my mind is, is there a line for defending? Is that the reason for the stigma surrounding it? Of course it is not the way to play, but if there is a dislike for defending in the football world, when does the line for it start?

In my mind there should be no criticism for trying to win games, until it is constituted as cheating. My dad always told me that the style of play does not matter, as long as you are winning. That is what all clubs want, to win games.

I am sure that is what all critics want for their teams too. Defending is a football fundamental, where some of the prices for players are at their highest, and no team can do without a good quality defence. When it is seen as something ugly and unnecessary, we forget about it's importance, and teams start conceding goals, managers get sacked, and clubs get relegated. Let us not forget it.

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