Sorry, it’s not. I hear this, or an offshoot of this quote, alot. Managers like Mancini and Benitez are the one’s who seem to get it in the neck with this particular mantra – oddly enough, Mourinho doesn’t (That guy who wins with his complex preperation? Remember him?). He always seeks to be better prepared then the opposition – and I don’t ever hear people quoting that above fallacy at him.
Here is another quote, from Bill Shankley. ‘Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.’
And that, of course is what the above quote is based on but it doesn’t make it anymore right. Sorry Shanks, but it’s not.
And the reason that it’s not is because pass and move is in fact very complicated. You need composure (just the right amount) to keep the ball under the pressure that teams apply nowadays. And you also have to take risks – you can’t be passing it sideways all game long, (although some teams do do that for long periods presumably to make the opposition too comfortable, but that’s for another day) and you need to be able to make your pass and move pay off with goals and wins and all what not. Barcelona make it pay off. Manchester United make it pay off. Arsenal mostly make it pay off. And they do that by doing alot more then even what’s listed here. They need co-ordination, they need skill (of course) they need timing, they need desciciveness. And so much more.
But if you want a great example of when just tippy tapping the football doesn’t pay off look at Tony Mowbray. His West Brom team having been relegated, he moved to Celtic, and I was thinking naively that he would make Celtic and fantastic pass and move team, able to get through the champions league, take on the best, so on so fourth.
He didn’t. Celtic were in turmoil by the time he left, in danger of being beaten to second by Hibernian, having just been destroyed 4-0 by St Mirren. It was a disastrous tenure, and to rub salt into the wound Neil Lennon came in and Celtic became a much better side. And this was a guy with no managerial experience at all.
No, playing pass and move is all well and good but it needs to have substance. And on my final note, a question has to be asked. Ferguson has had twenty years of success with brief interludes with Manchester United, winnign the treble, two champions leagues, premier league so on, so fourth.
Does anyone think he did that by just telling his team to play pass and move. Telling Ronaldo ‘Oh don’t worry. You may be a trick pony now, but soon you’ll be scoring 40 goals a season.’ ? Or perhaps, Ferguson and his coaches (never forget the coaching staff) taught him to use his power and pace better, to refine his technique to make him more efficient, gave him the frame of mind to succeed?
And if winning those trophies was so simple, why did Ferguson need 6 years to win the league after joining United? Lots of money spent, almost getting the sack – doesn’t sound like it was so simple for Ferguson afterall. And the same applies to Shankley. It took him four and a half years as well, although Liverpool unlike United, were in the second division at the time.
Football is just not that easy. Possibly, complicating things even more is a bad idea. But simple in the first place? Laughable. Football, in my opinion, is like Rocket Science. You spend ages preparing every little detail, setting your amazing plan in place – and it can still all fall apart in a matter of seconds. Football has so much to it, so many little variations and unforseen consequences.
And that is surely how we love it best.