The short corner
Unless a team is protecting a slender lead and wanting to run down the clock, or are severely lacking in the height department, why would they need to complete a two yard pass before crossing the ball? For a minute gain in crossing angle? Pointless. They could have crossed the ball directly from the corner flag and had another player in the box. When giant defenders lumber forward into the opposition’s penalty box, the last thing they’ll be caring about is a needless pass before the cross comes flying in – if indeed it does. All too often, the short corner creates more difficulty for the attacking team than an advantage, leading to a rushed pass backwards to the halfway line to start an attack all over again – frustrating for the fans and utterly futile.
The long ball (also read long throw)
The ugliest and most basic of football tactics is one that removes virtually all skill and creativity from the sport. The only time a manager can be excused of the ‘punt it in the box and hope for the best’ approach is when there are less than ten minutes remaining in a game and their team is losing by a single goal. It is because of this one dimensional, direct and – admittedly – occasionally effective tactic that children are often being force-fed the instruction of ‘hoof it’ and ‘boot it up the park’ by spectators and over-competitive coaches alike when they line up for their local under-9s team. This, in turn, leads to the more successful youth teams being made up of the bulkiest, tallest, meanest players who can win physical matches that involve as much skill as pounding a drum.
The long ball is to football what Jedward are to the music industry: hard to take seriously, crude and annoyingly successful (Sam Allardyce and Martin O’Neill have made their living from putting it into practice).
I give the last word to the great Brian Clough whose own view on the tactic was: “If God had meant football to be played in the air he would have put grass in the sky.”
This pretty much sums it up:
As discussed previously, diving is a persistent problem in modern day football. Players theatrically flop to the ground at the merest touch from an opponent, as if floored by a David Haye uppercut, in an attempt to con the referee into giving a foul against the opposition. Simply put: it’s cheating.
In basketball, though, feigning a foul is seen as part of the game and is actually encouraged and praised when performed successfully. But, this is one area in football where the moral high ground prevails.
Lack of goal-line technology
As technology has modernised, so too have most sports. In tennis, we have the brilliant hawk-eye replay system that determines if a ball has landed in or out the court; in rugby, the referee can enjoy the benefit of a video replay before making a key decision. However, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has stubbornly resisted the use of technology to improve the fairness of the sport for fear that it would slow down the game, even though it takes barely ten seconds to use successfully in other sports.
Imaginary card waving
Again a topic that has been discussed here before, here’s a different point of view. Imagine, you have the ball at your feet as you dribble past defenders. The goal in your sight. You prepare to shoot, only for an opposing player to slide in and clip your standing leg. It’s a foul. Clearly. The referee has seen it, he has blown his whistle. Why, as a professional sportsman and role model to thousands, would you ever decide to wave your hand in the air as though branding an invisible yellow or red card? The answer, of course, is simple: to gain an advantage for your team by influencing the referee that the foul was worthy of sending off the opposing player. Some might say it is gamesmanship. For me, though, it smacks of immaturity, pettiness and, worse still, cheating.
There are times, though, when card-waving can be funny, even if the referee doesn’t see it that way.
Please feel free to add your own personal gripes about football below. Take it from me, it feels good to let it out.