After starting the “Conceptualising Football” series, I would like to launch the “Breaking the myth” series. It will be composed by few articles covering some “absolute truths” about the game that I personally strongly disagree and hope to show to the readers that perhaps with all modesty, I might be right.
The first episode of this series is based on a conversation I had last week with a Tottenham fan. According to him, Harry Kane should be called up to the National English Team as he has been scoring tons of goals. In his opinion, the only and most important role of the striker is to be there (in his own words – whatever that means) to score. In my opinion this is wrong for various reasons:
- The act of finishing is just a sub-moment of the game;
- There is no such thing as unique “specialisation” (on TOP teams);
As it was explained on the previous article “Conceptualising Football”, there are four different moments in the game. Finishing is a sub-moment within the Attacking Organisation Phase, occurring after a defense-attack transition or in detached situations such as free-kicks and set-pieces. I will deliberately ignore free-kicks and set-pieces from the discussion because they are very specific situations. Roberto Carlos and Juninho were two good examples of two great free-kicks specialists, very effective finishers in that specific sub-moment of the game, however they could never be considered to be strong finishers.
In first place, thinking of finishing as a sub-moment of those two main moments of the game and understanding the game of a constant flow of moments interconnected to one another, we arrive to one simple conclusion: the weight of the different actions within the different sub-moments cannot be measurable. How can possibly be said that the action of centre forward who completes a dummy run to attract and drag the center’s back in order to clear up space for an inside run of a winger (sub-moment – building up attacking play), is less important, than the action of scoring (sub-moment – finishing)?
In the case of last weekend’s match between FC Porto and Sporting Lisbon (http://footyroom.com/fc-porto-3-0-sporting-lisbon-2015-03/) should Cristian Tello’s scoring action be considered more important than the heel flick from Jackson Martinez who leaves the three defenders behind the ball and Tello facing the goal 1v1 against the GK?
Secondly, an invaluable lesson that Guardiola’s Barcelona in the past and Bayern Munich in the present, is that football is undeniably moving to an era where the players are becoming less ‘role specialists’ and more of a ‘moments of game specialists’.In other words this means that in top teams, most of the players know what to do in the different moments of the game, depending on their (and their teammates’) momentary position on pitch. All this within a greater collective organisation (Game Model). For the exact same reason, that’s why Lahm can play as a defensive midfielder with Guardiola, when he has played all his career as a full-back. This also supports the assertion that fixed game organisations are less important than the dynamics resulting from players’ interaction.