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.