A bit like leaving monkeys in a room long enough to recreate the entire works of Shakespeare, I knew that eventually Robbie Savage would say something that I could agree with.
The (alleged) player turned pundit says that entertainment is thin on the ground and that clubs/teams are scared to play attacking football as grinding out wins/draws is seen as a better game plan.
Robbie Savage picks out last weekend’s Bournemouth v Newcastle match as a prime example, talking about the home side’s ‘vibrant attacking football’ bringing no reward, whilst he describes Newcastle as having ‘picked their pockets’. Steve McClaren having sent his team out in a negative formation and the Perez goal the only time Newcastle threatened the opposition goal.
After watching years of negative football under Alan Pardew, Steve McClaren has been a slight improvement but in far too many matches he has tried to grind out points with two midfielders acting basically as extra defenders.
Savage says that he wouldn’t cross the road to watch a good number of Premier League teams, a list in which he includes Newcastle, Sunderland and even Manchester United under Van Gaal.
Yet in contrast he has talked up the entertainment value provided by Newcastle’s next two opponents; Leicester City and Crystal Palace under…Alan Pardew!
Robbie Savage writing in The Mirror:
‘For most clubs, it’s become a battle for survival and grinding out enough results to maintain a share of huge financial rewards that come with playing in the top flight.
Last weekend, I watched Bournemouth play vibrant, attacking football against Newcastle – but they got their pockets picked and I now fear they will go straight back down.
There were also Man United fans unhappy with the rigid, structured tactics of Louis van Gaal’s philosophy.
West Ham — especially Dimitri Payet, before he was injured — have been a breath of fresh air this season.
So have Leicester. Jamie Vardy has been banging in the goals, but his teammate Riyad Mahrez is the one who gets me out of my seat.
Crystal Palace have been fantastic away from home, running at teams with pace on the flanks and with Yohan Cabaye calling the tune in midfield.
Would you rather watch your team play with verve and style, like Bournemouth, even if it risks going down, or would you prefer them to be disciplined, organised and grind out results like Manchester United are?
As a neutral, I would happily pay to watch (Man) City, Leicester, West Ham, Palace and Tottenham in the Premier League at the minute.
But I wouldn’t cross the road right now to watch Aston Villa, Sunderland, West Brom, Newcastle or even Man United.
Best league in the world? Maybe it’s the richest, but so far this season the quality has left a lot to be desired.’
(To feature like Sam, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)