Give Me Your Stoke City, Your West Ham, Your Everton Yearning to Breathe Free

Liverpool fans will hope that the appointment of Brendan Rodgers will provide their team with both style and substance during the coming years, but is this ‘Swanselona’ (urgh) type football being hyped up so much that results don’t matter as much anymore?

Fans of clubs (I’m looking at you Arsenal and Tottenham) will often fall back on the lovely football they play when changing the subject about a lack of trophies or success, while West Ham fans bemoan the fact that their club no longer play the exciting passing football they had under the likes of managers Harry Redknapp and Gianfranco Zola.

When you look at the managers hugely tipped for the Liverpool role, namely Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, both are renowned for their passing football. Both Swansea and Wigan get the plaudits for staying up, while ‘playing the right way’, whereas teams like Norwich get nowhere near as much praise.

My argument is that the Premier League needs managers like Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis. And it needs teams like West Ham and Stoke. If, for every job, managers were getting picked for the style of football they play, along with the moderate success they get with it, then every team in the Premiership would be playing the same kind of way, making it much more boring for the spectator, and losing its global advantage over the likes of La Liga and Serie A.

The Premier League is richer for mismatches in style in games between Stoke and, well, pretty much anyone. For me personally, I much prefer watching these games than a game between Swansea and Wigan, where they often cancel each other out. Now I’m not saying in any way shape or form that Allardyce or Pulis deserve a shot at the big time, not by a long shot, but the more managers that are considered for roles at big clubs, picked mainly for the type of football they play, the less exciting the league will be as a whole.

The shake up on the grassroots level of football in England was introduced to provide kids with a more modern way of playing the game, to keep up with the likes of Spain and their ‘tiki taka’. This was definitely needed, such is the gap between the quality in our possession and most other often mediocre sides in Europe, but this could also lead to a change in style of coaching in the country. Will all our coaches now favor a more continental style of football? I hope that the pace and physicality made famous in the English game, accompanied by a fluid passing game, can make the national side a force to be reckoned with for many years to come, but will that pace of football be lost in translation? Managers all over Britain seem to be adjusting their style slightly, take Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce’s Team GB. And Roy Hodgson may have to do the same, albeit with fairly limited players (how many of the ‘passing’ players in Team GB were Welsh?) to be truly judged as a successful England manager.

The Premier League is the most watched league in the world for its speed and its unpredictability. I’m sure neutrals love seeing a lesser team batter (sometimes literally) one of the big boys. Nights at the Britannia, Upton Park, and Goodison Park are hostile environments for any player, and I would argue that a physical battle, rather than two teams racking up possession, best accompanies this atmosphere, making the Premier League what it is today.

6 thoughts on “Give Me Your Stoke City, Your West Ham, Your Everton Yearning to Breathe Free”

  1. You’re seriously putting Everton in the Stoke/WHUFC bracket of long ball thug type play? Obviously you haven’t watched them in recent years. Ask Villa fans how our long ball game was on Sat.

  2. “…and I would argue that a physical battle, rather than two teams racking up possession, best accompanies this atmosphere, making the Premier League what it is today.”

    I understand your sentiment but I believe there are two events that created EPL the way it is today.The “Bosman Rluing” opened global player market to the EU countries. First Division clubs breaking away from the Football League and a lucrative TV rights deal with BSkyB that followed enabled English clubs to spend excessively (even before sheikhs and Russians came who were more of a consequence than cause) to attract top global talent. Without this massive arrival of foreign talent and left to mostly British players I would argue that EPL would be a less watchable league than say MLS.

    In addition majority of the EPL success relies on global audience that is conditioned to appreciate a football style that is a bit different from what you are nostalgically advocating.

  3. The Stokes and West Ham may make it difficult for other teams to score against and are physical towards their opponents. That is not the same as playing to win and teams like these never win the title. It’s not a suprise that the teams that win titles play a possession game with lots of fluid movement.

    Everton are nowhere close to being anything like Stoke and West Ham under Allardyce.

  4. Thing is West Ham don’t play the old Bolton way… They may have won the Championship as opposed to having to get back via playoffs if they had. In fact the knock on West Ham is that they play to soft. If you watched the match with Swansea last weekend you have noticed, how they hardly close down on the ball, stand off and look to intercept balls. They play r,ather direct up the center, for two thirds they look to Cole to bring it down and push then to the wings.

    And I’d argue that the league doesn’t need more Old Bolton, Stokes, but needs more Charlton and West Ham’s under Curbishly. Steady English football. Boring as hell to watch, but keeps teams up and safe mid table.

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