Edward starts off this Friday by arguing that Spurs, England, and anybody else for that matter should favour team spirit over whopping superstars….and then praises Everton as an excellent ‘slow cooker’ of a team.
This past week has shown the value of teamwork over scattered disinterested individuals.The England team, whether accidentally stumbled upon by McClaren, or as the result of a tactical masterstroke, has looked much better in the past two games than it has for ages. Several changes in the team have reaped huge rewards; friendships and understandings, forged at Premier League level, have finally been cashed in at international level. Gerrard talked of his friendship with Gareth Barry and judging by the understanding that they struck up, with Barry’s uncomplicated but accurate skills, this should be a midfield paring to stick with. Likewise Emile Heskey, a great team player, if not a goalscorer, brought out the best in his partner, Michael Owen.
The same is true of anything. A ‘dream team’ musical band could comprise The Who‘s John Entwistle on bass, Led Zep‘s John Bonham on drums, Elton John on piano, Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar and Elvis Presley as lead singer. In reality such a match up would have been grotesque…can you imagine how bad that band would sound…picking the best players doesn’t necessarily make the best unit. Finally the penny has dropped, we don’t need a ‘Superband’, we need a band of brothers. Scotland illustrate this perfectly, they are doing so well in their qualifying group because they aren’t a showbiz collective of superstars, but because they are modest and driven.
The recent article on the unrealistic expectations of Man City, Tottenham, and my beloved Everton is also very much related to this line of thinking. Man City are a potentially explosive but very unpredictable combination, the speed with which they have been brought together could cause some serious problems. Spurs seem to me to be adding to their already huge squad, but is their team getting any better? And lastly we have Everton, a slow-cooker of players slowly and deliberately added to the mix. As many people have pointed out, there are only a few players (Howard, Lescott, Arteta) than would walk into the Spurs team. And yet, this game isn’t played on paper – it’s a grass based game – Everton’s band of brothers seems light years ahead in terms of fluid,cogent team spirit and results, the currency by which we all measure a team.
All this talk of player vs player match ups is naught when you look at the team. When I was younger I used to be awed by the cult of personality, taken in by players like Romario and Stoichkov, I predicted Barcelona would thrash Milan. The Result? 4-0 to Milan, Barca were the ones taken out with such clinical ruthlessness that even now I shudder. AC Milan pulled the heart out of pallid Barcelona like cool surgeons, it made Jack the Ripper look like a Blue Peter presenter.