As far as tirades go, the one Chelsea and Liverpool have been targeted with has to be immediately thrown into the Hall Of Fame. Premiership supporters will long have noticed the difference between the Beauty’s and the Beast’s in the top four, with Arsenal and Manchester United’s flowing football contrasting the sheer workrate and organisation of Chelsea and Liverpool.
But Real Madrid and and Argentinian legend Jorge Valdano isn’t really a fan of the latter,
‘Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion – and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a s*** hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it’s a work of art. It’s not: it’s a s*** hanging from a stick,’ he wrote in Spanish newspaper Marca.
‘Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct.
‘But, a short pass? No. A feint? No. A change of pace? No. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don’t be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.’
Top stuff, and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment. For all their competitive success, most Chelsea and Liverpool supporters we know do wish they played a slightly more appealing brand of football. But Valdano also has a few ideas as to the root of the problem, and it’s a delightfully personal attack,
‘But they have two things in common: a previously denied, hitherto unsatisfied hunger for glory, and a desire to have everything under control.
‘Both of those things stem from one key factor: neither Mourinho nor Benitez made it as a player. That has made them channel all their vanity into coaching.
‘Those who did not have the talent to make it as players do not believe in the talent of players, they do not believe in the ability to improvise in order to win football matches. In short, Benitez and Mourinho are exactly the kind of coaches that Benitez and Mourinho would have needed to have made it as players.’
An interesting theory, although Arsene Wenger never amounted to much as a player, it does make sense that whatever type of player Benitez and Mourinho were probably ended up being the kind of team they wanted to build.
But in all honesty, we’re still pre-occupied with that “sh*t on a stick” business.