I awoke on Monday morning sick and angry at the realisation that the Sam Allardyce School of football had somehow found its loathsome way to the World Cup final as Holland kicked, hacked, tripped and shirt pulled their way through 120mins of cynical attrition, laughingly described by some as football. Thus the most high profile game in the world was dragged down to a level that would have shocked Sunday morning pub footballers.
This I thought is the country that gave us Johan Cruyff, Krull, Neskins and latterly our own Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie, each and every one renowned for sublime skills. Yet it was RvP, who’s own foul play straight from the kick off announced to the watching world just what today’s game plan would be.
Where has Holland’s fabled total football gone? Surely it was this concept that had inspired Barcelona through successive managers to play it with the style and panache that makes them the most attractive club side in the world. The same style copied back here in England by Arsene Wenger as he shapes our own Arsenal after the same fashion.
Yet here and now, in the full spotlight of the world’s media and on millions of TV screens worldwide. We had watched Spain’s modern interpretation of the same concept, being ruthlessly nullified by storm troopers, wearing the same orange shirts their forbears had worn with such distinction, as footballers in previous world cups. Sure they had never won one, but their reputation and magic has entered footballs folklore and is to this day the stuff of dreams and wonder to those of us lucky enough to remember. What will this crowd of losers be remembered for?
So bad was the rough stuff that even Alan (football is a mans game and a contact sport) Hanson was a complete contradiction of all he has ever espoused on BBC TV. He was moved in his half time summation to roundly condemn the Dutch, their methods and tactics in an anti intimidation tirade that would have left most listening gooners in a state of complete disbelief given his known track record on the subject. Miracles it seem do happen, conversion is still possible in today’s cynical football world.
So back to yesterday morning and as I lay in bed the realisation of how far we had fallen came. When I turned my radio on and Jordie Cruyff a Dutch international himself and the son of the great man, said to Nicky Campbell “of course we played the correct game we had to stop them playing, if we had let them play their tippy tappy football we may as well have gone home after 45 minutes as we would have been beaten. The referee didn’t help he was very” (picky, fussy cant remember exactly. But the meaning is clear). Like father, like son I think not.
True the referee tried valiantly enough, but no doubt warned by the politicians not to ruin South Africa’s big day, was not able to apply the law, as he should have done in order to control the game. Two sent off in the first half would no doubt have finished any hope’s he might have of higher office when his officiating days are done.
We are well used to Blackburn and Bolton and their ilk playing against us in this manner, the broken legs and in some cases spirits of fine young footballers, in our own club, testify to the malaise in this country.
But from Cruyff to Allardyce in the world cup final is a tragedy I am unable to get my head round.
Thank god they didn’t win and the beauty of the Spanish game got its just reward. Even if there was too much diving, unnecessary posturing and card waving from the Spanish players, but at least they stuck to the basics and kicked the ball most of the time.
So my football loving friends please answer the question I keep asking myself, where the hell does the game I love go from here?
Written by dandan