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2009 01 Retrieve
[Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics] In the beginning there was chaos, and soccer was without form. Then came the Victorians, who codified it, and after them the theorists, who analyzed it. It wasn’t until the late 1920s that tactics in anything resembling a modern sense came to be recognized or discussed, but as early as the 1870s there was an acknowledgment that the arrangement of players on the field made a significant difference to the way the game was played. In its earliest form, though, soccer knew nothing of such sophistication.
Various cultures can point to games that involved kicking a ball, but, for all the claims of Rome, Greece, Egypt, the Caribbean, Mexico, China, or Japan to be the home of soccer, the modern sport has its roots in the mob game of medieval Britain. Rules-inasmuch as they existed at all-varied from place to place, but the game essentially involved two teams trying to force a roughly spherical object to a target at opposite ends of a notional field. It was violent, unruly, and anarchic, and it was repeatedly outlawed. Only in the early nineteenth century, when the public schools-their thinking shaped by advocates of muscular Christianity-decided that sports could be harnessed for the moral edification of their students, did anything approaching what we would today recognize as soccer emerge. Before there could be tactics, though, there had, first of all, to be a coherent set of rules.
[…] Cruyff was the first player who understood that he was an artist, and the first who was able and willing to collectivise the art of sports
2012 11 28 Publish: Pragmatic Benitez searches for the balance that eluded Di Matteo
The draw with Man City showed that the Spaniard favors solidity over the attacking style his predecessor used as Torres, Hazard, Mata and Oscar curbed their forward instincts
There is a contradiction at the heart of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. We are told he fell in love with soccer watching Manchester United beat Real Madrid 4-3 (in a losing cause) in the 2002-03 Champions League quarterfinal. We are told that he reveres the way Barcelona play and it appears he has a crush on Pep Guardiola. We do not know, of course, for Abramovich is as enigmatic as Garbo
But let us assume that the hints and inferences are correct and that Abramovich does want to recreate Barcelona in west London. For a man with his resources it is a worthy ambition; why should he not set the side that has dominated European soccer over the past five years as his benchmark?
But for all Abramovich’s wealth, he is short of one vital resource: patience
2016 03 24 Retrieve
[Jonathan Wilson, in Johan Cruyff’s legacy? The whole of modern football] Cruyff the player was gloriously impudent, a slight and graceful genius who proved that brain could outmanoeuvre brawn. Watching his Netherlands dart and thrust their way around Uruguay or Argentina in 1974, or seeing his Ajax outwit Juventus in the European Cup final in 1973, was to see a devastating puppet-master toying with lumbering opponents. Cruyff the coach, Cruyff the manager, was able to retain that sense of the joy of the game, the importance of beauty and, what’s harder, to convey that sense to his players. There has never been such a great player who was also such a great manager. In that he stands utterly unique