One week into the Hyundai A-League and we have already seen what playing with fear can do to a team.
Round 2 of the A-League is near, but one piece of ‘play- stuck in my mind from the A-League games last weekend.
Although different circumstances, it reminded me of a particular moment in the grand final last season, a moment of drastic negativity. Winding the clock back to the 112th minute, Central Coast Mariners leading 2-0 in Brisbane vs the Roar, what did they do?
They ran the ball to the corner flag and tried to waste time with eight minutes to go… Eight whole minutes! An astonishingly negative bit of play. One that in the end proved to be fruitless.
Nil-nil and 15 minutes gone by in the Newcastle Jets vs Melbourne Heart game last weekend, the Heart had a free kick in their own half about five meters from the halfway line.
I was expecting a short pass into midfield or a floated ball into the striker, what took place? The ball was knocked all the way back to the goalkeeper. It was an extremely rare and negative piece of play and I-d love to know what John van -t Schip – a coach renowned for an attractive football philosophy – thought about it, if he did at all.
Melbourne Heart needlessly played the ball back to their goalkeeper way too many times, so the ball in turn could be booted up the park.
Ultimately, what these examples of “play” signalled, was fear. Fear of the opponent, fear of making a mistake. Fear however, has no place in football, or sport in general. Fear should be pounced on and punished by the opponent. Fear gains no advantages.
Taking risks and being adventurous are what makes the game great and entertaining, turns players into stars and ultimately reaps rewards for teams.
The amount of times Brisbane Roar building up try to keep the ball “alive” – continuing the sequence of play and not breaking it up by passing the ball back to the GK – was evident again in their week 1 game against the Mariners.
They played a courageous game, that was entertaining as well. But that is what the game should always be. As a spectator, I want to be entertained, I want to see teams take risks.
Coaches and players should be conscious of the fact that entertainment is a part of what football is about. By entertainment, I don-t mean back-heels or fancy tricks, but a positive, fearless, attacking frame of mind.
Watching David Luiz- performance for Chelsea Bolton a few weeks back, I have to say it was the best build up play from a central defender I have seen in many, many years. It was close to being a masterpiece, one that deserved a standing ovation from everyone that witnessed it.
He was always looking for options to go forward, trying to be productive with every touch he had. He-s a central defender, but he was creating havoc for the opposition, he had a positive frame of mind on the ball and as a result his teammates benefited, fans of entertaining football benefited and his team ended up with a positive result.
Yes, David Luiz is one of the best in the world, clearly we cannot compare his individual qualities to defenders in the A-League. But his frame of mind contributes to him being one of the best that we can compare.
A positive frame of mind is achievable, but only when negativity and fear are dispelled. Brisbane Roar in general have been the perfect example of that.
With week 2 of the A-League now upon us, I hope to see more adventure and courage when teams build up from the back and of course in general play, the option forward rather than the one behind.