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Opinion

What I discovered when self-isolating at the weekend

3 weeks ago
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I spent the weekend self-isolating in the house after a track and trace prompted me to have a test on Friday afternoon.

The testing site confirmed I should have the results with 24 hours.

Thankfully the results came back negative on Monday morning, just in time to go back to work. Cheers Boris!

The benefit was that I could watch hours of football on TV.

I am now certain the premier league football exists in another reality to mine. I mean I have taken an online test but I am pretty sure that it’s not me. In my reality, teams get three points for a win and one for a draw. The majority of goals are scored from set-pieces and the team who scores the most goals generally wins.

In this Twilight Zone, points are awarded by VAR on the basis of most turnovers, who has the most overlapping centre-backs, number of false positions created, who did or didn’t beat the press and number of full-backs freed. I swear that in this reality you get bonus points for passing via your false centre-half from one side to the other.

I am not sure if it’s the empty stadiums, the lack of pressure on managers because of this, just managers indulging their own tactical fantasies, or if the premier league is in a parallel universe.

When did it become the norm, to get wingers or full-backs into crossing positions, just to pass it back and across to the other side? Is it not the aim to score? Or is it more important to use your false full-back position to retain possession and move the ball into the false nine position so that it can be cleared by a non-overlapping centre-half?

Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that West Ham, Wolves and Everton in particular, saw it fit to hand us the points by not really trying to win the game.

Everton only caused problems when they crossed the ball into the box for Calvert-Lewin, something they refused to do over and over again.

I saw Burnley with Wood and Barnes up front refuse to put the ball in the box.

I have lost count of the teams that no longer put the ball in the danger areas from corners and free-kicks, never mind in open play. Or the wingers that run beyond the full-backs only to get in position, stop and pass it back to a midfielder. I have lost count of the number of opportunities to beat the man turned down.

Raheem Sterling getting one on one numerous times, beat him three times in the first 10 minutes and then spend the next 80 minutes passing backwards. It is likely that the players have been coached to the point that they have forgotten the purpose of the game, other than to turn around and go back to their false position, which always seems to be centre of midfield.

Watching Sean Longstaff against Everton, presumably under instruction, refuse to put corners into the box, was infuriating.

Come on Steve!

Newcastle United can’t get the ball near the goal in open play, so why are we going backwards from corners?

What are the odds of a ball pulled back 25 yards for a strike, beats all the men in the box and the keeper? Give it a try, maybe a couple of tries but I have seen teams pass backwards at every corner and free-kick.

I get taken aback by the teams celebrating like they have won the world cup!

Strange to me as it looks like you have been playing chess in your granny’s front room, now you are jumping all over each other.

I am all for tactical evolution and sometimes revolution. It’s good that everyone has stopped trying to be Guardiola’s Barcelona. Coaches should set tactics and styles to challenge the opposition, they should set the opposition tasks that they will find difficult.

However, the aim always has to be to win the game, not to demonstrate what clever players and coaches they are.

Hopefully when crowds return, that sense may return too!

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