Scotland Away Kit

October 23rd, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Following Scotland’s sadly predictable inability to make it to the World Cup playoffs, and Gordon Strachan’s leaving, the question of ‘who next?’ is inevitably being asked by every Scotland fan. What should also be of great concern is ‘what next?’ for the away shirt – Scotland has a long line of (sometimes) memorable and joyful away kits, and this is a rare Scottish national team tradition that I would like to see continue. What follows is a short analysis of the last 30 odd years of Scotland away shirts, and my suggestion for the next. Home shirt analysis will follow at a later date.

Being in my mid 30’s, I will only go back so far as I can remember. My earliest away shirt memories are of Mexico ’86 – a simple reversal of a classic home shirt, with thick bands of shiny, and less shiny, yellow polyester. The thick horizontal stripe is an underused shirt design, and stripes are a regular Scotland away shirt design trope. In ’86, this was memorably and daringly used on the shorts as well as the shirt – this has not been repeated. I do feel an away shirt should have a real colour clash with the home (which is why I’m not a fan of white away shirts, as there is already white in the home shorts) so the bright yellow is good here. But, there is a bit of design laziness in maintaining the same design composition as the home shirt. I guess the mid 80’s was a little before the mass buying of football shirts, and the away kit may not have been deemed economically viable enough to justify a fancification of design. I’ll give this kit 6/10.

Willie Miller – Israel v Scotland 1986

The away shirt from 1988-1991 continued with the yellow, and the stripes, but mixed things up a bit. with white and a bit of navy blue. Thin and thick stripes, but unusually, one thick band across the chest to leave space for the badge and manufacturer logo. I really love this shirt – it’s simple, well composed, and has a classic shirt collar (with a lovely ‘SFA’ detail). Maybe its because of my memories of Italia ’90, but this has stuck with me. It’s the first of Scotland’s (modern) away kits to be designed without reference to the home shirt. I’ve always wanted to own this one, and for me, it’s a 8/10.

Paul McStay & Stuart McCall – Scotland v Costa Rica 1990

From 1991-1994, Scotland really went for it. At this point in time, away shirts in general seemed to be taking more risks. I think it was seen as a chance to go a bit wild, and this Scotland kit was in some ways a bit of a trail-blazer, and a sign of things to come in the early to mid-90’s. White is predominant, but is punctuated by what I can only describe as a purple and red splurge of shattered glass across the chest. Doing away with any formal composition, I have no idea what the designers were attempting to replicate or symbolise, perhaps the shattered shin bones of opponents. It’s this lack of formality which was shocking and appealing. The white of the shirt did have a kind of weird repeated shiny white triangle design, which was unnecessary, but of it’s time. It’s worth talking a bit about ‘fit’ here – in the late 80’s shirts were pretty wee and tight, as were shorts. In the mid ’90’s  things swung horribly the other way, with very wide shirt, long (short) sleeves, and enormous shorts, all very ugly. Then towards the late 90’s early 00’s things went very tight again (eg Italy Kappa kit) which seemed normal, as generally players were now more athletic, and a tight shirt emphasised this. Then mid 2000’s things got big and baggy again, and now they are tight again. Personally I am a fan of the shorter short sleeve, a straight fit, and not too tight – good tailoring generally. I do notice a lot of art-students now wearing oversized baggy 90’s shirts nowadays, so I guess its swings and roundabouts. This Scotland shirt was creeping towards wide and baggy, but just stays the right side for me. 9/10, mostly for impact and influence.

Ally McCoist – unknown game 1991

 

John Spencer & Zinedine Zidane (!) – France U/21 v Scotland U/21 – 1991

With 1993 came the first sort-of reference to the Rosebery colours for 40 years. I remember it being described as ‘salmon-pink’ at the time, which seems fair enough. This strip is a bit of a nod to the 30’s and 40’s I think, which happened a lot in the mid-90’s, when draw-string collars were popular for no-known practical reason. Salmon pink, with a thin purple pin-stripe, and purple collar. The collar was of the same fabric as the shirt, which was a development of sorts. I quite like this, though it went way too baggy. Again, there was a nice little SFA badge detail under the collar buttons. It also saw the introduction of ‘UMBRO’ instead of ‘umbro’, which history tells us was a mistake. Overall, it was restrained in composition, bold in colour, so I give it 7/10.

Craig Levein – Scotland v Germany 1993

Another trend of the 90’s was a certain busyness, with bits here, bits there, a lack of simplicity and design composure. The away kit of 95-96 is an example of this. I think it’s fair to compare this one to the purple and red smashed glass kit – whereas the early concentrated it’s oddness to a splash across the chest, this one just decided to put weird angular purple and green dashes (apparently the colours of the SFA tartan) across the entirety of the shirt. It’s also the introduction of the central SFA badge, which, for me, is never good, along with a weird oversized shield, surrounding the (old) SFA badge, which already consisted of a shield. I guess it’s kinda funky, but I think in a combination with the shorts, its too much. I don’t think this was ever worn in a competitive game. 5/10

Scotland team v Columbia 1996

From 1996-98, we have the first in a series of pretty unremarkable away kits. A return to the all yellow of 1986 (which was the first) but with none of the subtle design (although I do like the thin yellow pin stripe), instead just a bland shirt with an ugly collar and an ugly stripe on the shoulders…and way, way too big sleeves 4/10

Craig Burley – Scotland v Norway 1998

From 1998-2000 we move back into salmon pink territory (though pinker than before), this time with a slightly more complimentary navy blue, in a large band across the chest. For me, its spoilt slightly by having another navy band down the shoulders, and a collar which is neither one thing or another. Again, it’s far too big, but I guess that was the thing. 6/10 (if you could get a smaller size to fit like a normal size).

Alan Johnston – Germany v Scotland 1999

What follows this shirt is 7 years of uninspired, lazy shite. From early 90’s school kids favourite Fila, to nobody’s favourite Diadora, here they are. I give them the following marks; from 2000-02, 1/10 – its not only white, its just a reversal of the home shirt. Lazy, boring, lazy. The only thing going for it is a return to a simpler SFA badge. Although, ooh look a swish on the collar.

Matt Elliot – San Marino v Scotland 2000

2002 – 04, Fila go for a kind of combo of the 2nd salmon pink shirt, and the ’86 kit…with a hideous yellow. At least it is simple, and has a round collar. 3/10

Kevin Kyle – Iceland U/21 v Scotland U/21 – 2002

From 2003 – 2005 Diadora gave us another white kit, which is even shitter than the last. This time, they decided to mix things up with some weird lines, and a saltire under the SFA badge, which was useful as at first sight you might have thought it was a failed England shirt. I can find no images of this shirt in action. Dreadful, 1/10

I could not find any images of this shirt in action

From 2005-2007, something different happened, something blue, but a different blue. With two stripes. When I was at school ‘two stripes’ was a derogatory term for something not-quite-adidas, and possibly bought from Kinross Sunday market, ie maybe not legit. At least its not white – I do actually like the pale blue as an away colour. Again, I can find no evidence of this being worn in a match – 4/10.

Neither this one

2007 – 2009 – ooh, a bit of variety here – the St.Andrew’s cross, which to me seems a missed opportunity in Scotland kits generally, is kind of reversed. A big cross is a powerful graphic tool, but something about the composition seems a bit clunky. Maybe it could have been flipped 90 degrees to fit the shape of the shirt better. Still, there is a hint of doing something different, and I like the gold trim along the edge of the saltire (though not on the shirt numbers) so I’ll give it 6/10.

James McFadden – France v Scotland 12/09/2007

For 2009-2010, Diadora followed this vaguely imaginative kit with another dreary white one. This one has a very fine pin stripe though, and a navy blue rucksack strap element. 2/10

I could not find a better image than this

2010-2011, and we have a big hitter sportswear provider – Adidas. I know from experience, that Adidas often have a kind of ‘rent-a-kit’ that is adapted to a team’s colours, so its testament to the buying power and loyalty of the tartan army that Adidas have continued to make some quite unique shirts for Scotland, but not this. The first away kit was a return to yellow, with a kind of pointless big shadow version of the SFA badge. As far as I’m concerned, this also marks a return to a decent shirt fit. That’s it – its blue and yellow. 3/10.

James Morrison – Wales v Scotland, May 2011

2011-2013 and Adidas made the bold move from yellow to…white. The round-neck was replaced by a v-neck. wowsers. 2/10

Darren Fletcher – Belgium v Scotland October 2014

And now we enter the fun-zone. First of all 2014-15, a sort of nod to the Rosebery kit’s, the only problem being the stripes stopping short of the edges of the shirt – why? I don’t know. The stripes get thinner as you go further down the shirt – why? I don’t know. But pink, yellow (and white) is fine by me. The collar and button are good too 7/10.

Scott Brown, Alan Hutton – Scotland v Nigeria 28/05/2014

Now we are up to date – 2016-17 saw a return of the pink. This time, a kind of flourescent shade. I don’t know how deliberate it was, but the reduction of the SFA badge to one colour seems to work graphically, and makes the badge feel less stuck on. But I think the badge is better in red and yellow. I didn’t like this shirt at first, but seeing it en-masse in the Scotland end of the Slovenia match, I warmed to it. Its hot pink. Maybe too hot for an average football team from a grey country, but maybe that’s why it’s good. 8/10

Robert Snodgrass – Slovenia v Scotland 08/10/2017

So what next – well, I had an idea, then I found out someone had already done it. But, that should never stop you – if you think the shirt below looks like Hearts’ away kit in 2016/17, thats because it is. But it is the ideal Scotland away kit. I wonder if Malky Mackay would agree?

Scotland Ideal away kit/Hearts away 2016/17

Book Review – “A Seventh Man” John Berger & Jean Mohr (1975)

March 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

a seventh man

YES.

When I was a boy and living in Germany, I played football for the local village team. It was a mixture of Germans and British sons of RAF parents. Over the 4-5 years of playing for them, we would often play teams who had a few ‘Turkish’ kids in their team. These were likely 2nd generation immigrants, the sons of some of the people that this book talks about. The few immigrants seeking work who were able to stay in Germany and bring/have their family there.

I do remember being told on more than one occasion (though the way childhood memory works, who can be sure?) by team mates, both British and German, that the Turks were ‘cheats’, ‘dirty’ and ‘smelly’. I can see in my minds eye the German boys holding their noses so I could fully understand.

The one distinctive memory I actually have of playing against a Turkish boy was during a game on a very hot summers day. A lot of the pitches we played on weren’t grass, but a kind of terracotta dust. It would kick up and get in your eyes, and if you did a sliding tackle it would leave a huge dirty mark along your leg like a hakeme brush. When I sweated, the drips down my forehead would collect the dust and create little trails down my face.

This boy (we were probably 9 or 10 years old) had tiny feet which made the ball look even bigger than it was, but he had incredible control, and could do Cruyff turns. He was very short but strong and had a big arse. His hair was thick and dark and curly and I couldn’t get the ball off him. I can picture him running around me and away as I desperately tried to grab his shirt, and lunged into a sliding tackle that got nowhere near him or the ball.

Mesut Özil was born in Gelsenkirchen in October 1988, a 3rd generation Turkish-German (“My technique and feeling for the ball is the Turkish side to my game. The discipline, attitude and always-give-your-all is the German part”), around the time I was in Germany (1986 – 1991). Gelsenkirchen was around 60 miles from where we lived, and in the 70’s many Turks made their way to this part of Western Germany to work in the then numerous factories.

Özil is my favourite footballer. There is a strange beauty in the way his body moves, the balance and grace and the certainty of movement. When he passes the ball he never overhits it, or underhits it – it is perfectly struck to allow the receiving player to take the ball without breaking stride. He can shape his body to make it appear he is about to do something else, without it being a showy dance like Ronaldo. What I really like is that he sees where other players are on the pitch, and can put the ball in the right place at the right time. I think at Arsenal it probably took the other players a season or so to realise that they could make unusual runs, and that they would be seen – to trust in Özil’s ability to find them. By having this ability, he creates unusual patterns on the pitch, of movement of players and the ball. He creates and that’s why I like him.

This book, like all of Berger’s, is sensitive and empathetic and generous. It’s specific subject matter (generally male workers from Portugal, Turkey and Greece moving to France and Germany) may be a little out of date, but the overarching theme of the trials and stresses and strains of being an immigrant is clearly relevant now. There is no real mention of refugees as such, or women and children, but if you want to try to understand what an immigrant may have to deal with when coming to a new country, you should read this book.

"The Seventh (A hetedik)" - Attila Jozsef (1905 - 1937)
If you set out in this world,
better be born seven times.
Once, in a house on fire,
once, in a freezing flood,
once, in a wild madhouse,
once, in a field of ripe wheat,
once, in an empty cloister,
and once among pigs in sty.
Six babes crying, not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

When you must fight to survive,
let your enemy see seven.
One, away from work on Sunday,
one, starting his work on Monday,
one, who teaches without payment,
one, who learned to swim by drowning,
one, who is the seed of a forest,
and one, whom wild forefathers protect,
but all their tricks are not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

If you want to find a woman,
let seven men go for her.
One, who gives heart for words,
one, who takes care of himself,
one, who claims to be a dreamer,
one, who through her skirt can feel her,
one, who knows the hooks and snaps,
one, who steps upon her scarf:
let them buzz like flies around her.
You yourself must be the seventh.

If you write and can afford it,
let seven men write your poem.
One, who builds a marble village,
one, who was born in his sleep,
one, who charts the sky and knows it,
one, whom words call by his name,
one, who perfected his soul,
one, who dissects living rats.
Two are brave and four are wise;
You yourself must be the seventh.

And if all went as was written,
you will die for seven men.
One, who is rocked and suckled,
one, who grabs a hard young breast,
one, who throws down empty dishes,
one, who helps the poor win;
one, who worked till he goes to pieces,
one, who just stares at the moon.
The world will be your tombstone:
you yourself must be the seventh.

Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Presidential acceptance speech in full

May 29th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Joseph S. Blatter’s FIFA Presidential acceptance speech – 29/05/2015

Picture 2

Thankyou. But first of all, I would like to give compliments and express my gratitude to his royal highness Prince Ali. Because Prince Ali was a competitor, a challenger, and he has obtained a very good result and he in such a situation, easy, he could have said ‘no, lets go further, perhaps I would receive more votes’.
On the other hand ladies and gentlemen I thankyou, I thankyou that you accepted me, that for the next 4 years, I will be in command of this boat called FIFA, and we will bring it back. We will bring it back, offshore, and we will bring it back to the beach, we will bring it back, where finally football can be played. Beach soccer. We can play everywhere. But we have to work on that. We have to work on that, we have also to work on other things, that we have to do for FIFA in the future. You will remember four years ago, I had a lot of problems to solve, and I gave it to you, I challenged you at that time. I will not going to challenge you. But we have also to make some organisational problems, inside the FIFA, inside the Executive Committee, because we must have a better representation of the different confederations, and the number of members, of the confederations, shall have also, their repercussion in the organisation of the committee, and, again, we need in this committee women. We need ladies, we cannot just say they are only co-opted, we have to do more. We have to do more in our competitions also.

 

And I already telled you I will not touch the World Cup, because the World Cup is too important for doing that. But for the other competitions, specially men’s under 17, under 20 also, we shall give, we shall give a second, a second part. We shall have a little bit more respect to one of the confederations that is respected by everybody, it is Oceania. They have only one member in the Executive Committee, they have only one slot, or a semi, a 50% of a slot, we have to do something for that, that is not good. That is not good for the, lets say, for the solidarity in FIFA. But don’t touch the World Cup. I agree with you, we don’t touch the World Cup.
But now, and I have said it before, I take the responsibility to bring back FIFA, with you, we do it, we do it. We do it, and I am convinced we can do it. I was not now in the room, but I was thinking, it was in meditation. I am a faithful man, and I said ‘Now, God, Allah, or whoever is this extraordinary whatever it is, spirit in the world that we believe, we believe. They will help us, to bring back this FIFA, where we shall be. And I tell you and I promise you, in the end of my term, I will give this FIFA to my successor, in a very very strong, strong position. A robust FIFA, and a good FIFA. We have to work together.
You will ask me what age? It is not an age, the age is no problem I always told you. You have people, they are 50, they look old. Its not a…..its not… ha, sure… sorry, sorry. Sorry, I didn’t know we had so many 50 years old people here. No, definitely not. But ladies and gentlemen, you know, I told you at the beginning, or when we started for this election – I like you, I like my job, and I like to be with you. I’m not perfect, nobody’s perfect. But, we will do a good job together I am sure, so I thankyou so much, I thankyou. For the trust and confidence, trust and confidence together we go! Let’s go FIFA! Let’s go FIFA! Thankyou! Thankyou so much. Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou Executive Committee. Thankyou. Merci.

Forest Pitch – Short film by Andy Ashworth

May 28th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s a short film about Forest Pitch, directed by Andy Ashworth, a student at Edinburgh College of Art. The film was made as part of the Film & Television course at ECA, and was supported? commissioned? by The Skinny on/around the 10 year(ish) anniversary of the founding of The Embassy gallery. The film uses some footage from our original short film about Forest Pitch, directed by Nick Gibbon, which can be seen below too.

Forest Pitch from Craig Coulthard on Vimeo.

Book Review – “The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper” Jonathan Wilson (2012)

April 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

the-outsider-a-history-of-the-goalkeeper

Yes, its ok. Not as much insight to psychology as I wanted.

Forest Pitch – Winter 2011/2012

June 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Here is a short video of images from our Forest Pitch ‘treecam’ – see the variety and beauty (?) of a Scottish Borders winter skyline…more images to come soon.

 

Forest Pitch Tickets Available Now!

June 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Tickets for my project “Forest Pitch” are now available! The event is on Saturday 21st July 2012, and takes place in a forest near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. Please go to our website to get tickets and more info!

www.forestpitch.org/tickets

Here are a couple of photos from our first training session for players. (photos by Angie Catlin)

New/Old Football Strips

April 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

In the last couple of days, both Celtic and Rangers have announced their new home strips for the 2012/2013 seasons. Assuming Rangers will even exist at the start of the season, there are some interesting elements to these designs. Although Celtic’s is made by Nike, and Rangers Umbro – both shirts have got a wee sponsor just above the heart. Tennents have kindly said “we can afford to be smaller” because they have the sponsorship of both clubs, and therefore (in Scotland anyway) have a monopoly on football shirt based exposure.

Tennents say (re the Celtic kit);

“Main club sponsor Tennent’s Lager, a supporter of Scottish football for almost 40 years, has changed its branding on the Club’s home shirts to mark the club’s 125th Anniversary. The logo will now appear below the club crest on the left breast of the shirt rather than across the chest as in previous seasons. Tennent’s believe that the way in which the brand has been incorporated into the new strip is a fitting way to celebrate the Club’s 125th anniversary.”

and (re Rangers);

“Main club sponsor Tennent’s Lager has kindly agreed to change its branding on the home shirt to help mark these significant anniversaries in Rangers’ history. The Tennent’s logo will now appear below the Club crest on the left breast of the shirt rather than across the chest as in previous seasons.”

Unsurprisingly similar comments there. Celtic are celebrating their 125th anniversary, Rangers their 140th (and 40th since their last and only European triumph in 1972). Anniversaries are strange things, based on the assumed importance of years ending in a 0 or a 5. This happy coincidence means both clubs have something to shout about – despite Celtic basing their anniversary on the ‘2012’ part of the season, and Rangers the ‘2013’. The ‘big’ clubs are not alone in celebrating anniversaries, St Mirren have a 135th (!) anniversary third (!) kit. Santos are also launching a 100th anniversary home and third kits.

What all of the above mentioned designs have in common is a desire to return to the simple, clean, elegant designs of their formative years. Apart from the proliferation (particularly on Santos and Brazilian kits in general) of sponsors that is, and I have already touched on possible reasons that contribute to Tennents decisions in that area.

Personally, I am a fan of simple designs of strips – I am also a fan of innovation though, strips that try to break the norm, like my recently purchased Partick Thistle grey and pink camoflauge (is that possible?) away kit.

So, on the whole, I quite like these designs. However, they are symptomatic of a contemporary desire to take inspiration directly from success’ of the past (this is not limited to football strips) instead of attempting to create a new language, because most attempts are so transient as to render the effort pointless. I am pretty sure that in 100 years, if they are still around, no one will be clamouring for a return to the Rangers Umbro kit of 2011/2012 – “The Adminstration Years” – not just because of the negative associations, but because it is dull. Same with Celtic’s kit – there is nothing about it that sticks in the mind. There will be continual cycles of fashion which lead kit designers again and again back to the original strips. Until some major leaps of imagination are made, these designs will remain the pinnacle, and rightly so in my opinion. But, there are still opportunities to expand the limits of strip design, these opportunities are usually away kits. There are others though, including the strip designs for Forest Pitch teams, which have been created by Scottish Primary school children. We are currently in a test production of these, and I personally can’t wait to see the real thing. If and when established clubs crumble, and new ones are created, there will be an opportunity for those clubs to create a new tradition, perhaps a tradition which takes into account the possibilities of 21st century textiles and printing.

(Many of the images on this post are from the excellent blog – www.footballshirtculture.com – please visit it)

 

Barcelona v Chelsea (Overdog v Underdog)

April 25th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

The Champions League semi-final last night was without doubt an enjoyable football occasion for most people. Barca fans, those who dislike Chelsea and others may disagree. Normally when watching any football match, I tend to hope the underdog wins, or at least takes the lead so the game is a little less predicatable, and players/fans are put into a position which is slightly alien to them.

So, it would seem before even the first leg of this semi-final, I would be hoping Chelsea take the lead and challenge Barcelona to break them down. Normally I would. However, there are a number of reasons to find Chelsea hard to support. I do actually own a Chelsea shirt (see below) which was bought out of wonder that bright orange, television snow and cross-hatching could be combined so successfully (?).

The ownership of the club brought a lot of jealously, and the usual indignation from football supporters who prefer clubs success to be built on long-term effort and investment. On top of that, recently there has been the John Terry racism case, and the response from a section of the Chelsea support to the situation. Personally, aside from the yet to be decided racism case, which the FA has sidestepped for a few months,  I find John Terry a highly unpalatable character. Last night he did something so embarrassingly amateur that I think he should be (finally) stripped of the Chelsea captaincy. That kind of “letting him know I’m here” intimidation is for English Championship level football at best, and pub football at worst. He’s done similar things in the past, and I am sure I saw him dig a knee into the stomach of a Barcelona player in the first half of the first leg (possibly Sanchez) which I never got to see a replay of. The look on Lampard’s face, when handed the captain’s armband by Terry was one of, not disbelief, but belief. He knew Terry was most likely guilty and had let the team down – Terry’s attempts to explain himself while walking away would have done nothing to reassure Lampard and the rest of the team.

And so, down to ten men, now surely I can allow myself to support the underdog? Well, normally I would be further steeled in support, and would hope the underdog could hold on, frustrating the better team, and proving themselves adept at the art of defending, which is, after all an important part of the game (most teams play with 5 defenders, including the goalkeeper, and 2 or 3 ‘forwards’ – its been that way since the 60’s).

However, this is still Chelsea, and I feel I want John Terry to be taught another lesson (though doubtless he not be interested in paying attention to the teacher). Added to this is the feeling that this is Barcelona. The best football team in the world. I want to see them in the final, against Bayern Munich. Watching Barcelona is at its best not when they are playing poor teams, but when they play a team who attacks them, allows there to be space, and is prepared to challenge their less than impressive defence and goalkeeper. I felt Bayern would do that.

However. There is a bit of a feeling of a backlash against Barcelona at the moment. I think it began with the Qatar Foundation sponsor on the shirt. Barcelona players (Messi, Xavi and Iniesta aside) like to complain and fall over easily – this is not exclusively a Barca problem, but it is galling to see such good players resort to the kind of sportsmanship that teams with less firepower need to help them along.

But, the main reason with which I find myself leaning towards the backlash and almost glad that Chelsea won last night is this – Barcelona do not just play pretty tiki taka – they only play tiki taka. There is rarely any other form of approach – tiki taka is clearly a pleasing thing to watch, particularly if it intricately unpicks a stoic defence, but what I really love about football (and which for me raises it above so many other team sports) is the variety of things that can happen – the way the ball can be struck, the kinds of shots that can be taken, the beauty of a long pass (Frank de Boer?) a well struck cross and a thumping header, etc etc and these are just the attacking possibilities (I could go on for a while about the subtleties of shot saving). It may seem a little trite to complain about this with Barcelona, as their style has been so successful, and is playful and simply elegant. But it seems that it is possible to stop – and if it is, a team needs to rethink its options, and I mean that within the 90 mins or less of a game. In the minutes of injury time last night, Barca tried a couple of long(ish) balls into the box, but being unused to that, it didn’t work.

Lionel Messi is a wonderful footballer, and I am particularly fond of his approach to being fouled – he get’s up and passes the ball again. I still don’t understand why a man like that agrees to appear in adverts for Pepsi Max – but I can forgive him for his skill and imagination. Recently he broke the goal scoring record for Barcelona, and I watched a video of every single goal he has scored for Barcelona. What was interesting was how similar the goals were. Apart from the odd (admittedly brilliant) solo mazy run, the goals were a combination of low crosses from the by-line turned in, one on one’s with the goalkeeper, little headers from lowish crosses from the by-line and quick one-two’s on the edge of the box, and passed past the goalie. There are no long range belters, few curled into the top corner, no volleys from the edge of the box. I feel this is illustrative of my issue with Barcelona – that you could eat your favourite meal every day of the week and become a bit sick of it.

I am not advocating a return to long-ball football, but at least an approach of mixing things up a bit – tiki taka clearly should be the way kids are taught to play football, it improves general technique, and is transferable from something like 5 a-side to 7’s and full size. It is attractive to watch, and is enjoyable to play. In 5 a-side football there can, over time, be a certain amount of stale-mate, as players are marked well, space is restricted, shooting chances are rare – what I feel really lights up a 5’s game, is a near halfway-line, low, straight, well struck shot off the post and in. I’d like to see that from Barcelona more, or at least a curler from the corner of the box into the top corner, stuck in the stanchion (if there is one).

And so, returning to the Champion’s League – I hope whoever plays Chelsea (preferably Bayern for me, because although they are the ‘giants’ of German football, they haven’t won the league this year and German football is very exciting and pleasing to watch) humps them. And I hope John Terry is greeting in the stands.

Forest Pitch in cartoon form

February 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

From the Scottish Sun 7th February 2012

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