Killing Football As Well As Time. A Case Study: Wigan, Chelsea and Madrid

All has been quiet recently on the Big-Man. It has been a strange couple of months for me as a football fan, there has been plenty happening and I have continued to watch far more football than I should, but nothing has happened that I have really cared about. Tevez apologised, returned and has galvanised a floundering Man City, proving more should have been done from both parties to sort out the ridiculous situation earlier. Paul Scholes has taken all the credit for Valencia, Rooney and Carrick’s good form. Redknapp has gone from must have England manager to tactical novice, did you know that when you beat a Newcastle without its two central midfielders 5-0 you are a great manager and when your team runs out of steam and can’t play the same high tempo football as earlier you are a dud? Four of the bottom six have suddenly learnt how to play football and it would be quite nice if instead of potentially seeing Allardyce’s West Ham or Olly’s lads in the premiership next year we could just get rid of Villa and Wolves and welcome Reading and Southampton to the league next year. Madrid won the league, strangely people seem to think this is great despite Madrid doing so purely through the banks of a debt ridden country, and Barcelona finished a bad week with a disastrous 45 minutes that saw them throw away a 2-0 lead against 10-man Chelsea who had so many out of position players, even Drogba was playing on his feet rather than his arse.

Two things that you can always rely on when the football world is full of change are: Liverpool are terrible and John Terry is an arse.

One thing that has started to get to me however is time wasting. This “art” is slowly infecting the game and is totally ruining it for the spectators. Recently it has come to my attention in Wigan’s 2-1 victory at the Emirates, Chelsea’s victories over Barcelona and the 20 minutes that followed Ronaldo’s quality winner for Madrid. These were three quite different cases. Wigan’s was extraordinary as it began after just ten minutes. Wigan flew out of the blocks and to everyone’s amazement were 2-0 up inside ten minutes. They deserved this and they deserved the 2-1 victory, but for me the whole game was ruined by Al-habsi taking 30 seconds to a minute to take goal kicks before passing them 5 yards to a player that had been stood there the whole time. The referee decided to book the keeper in the 93rd minute, achieving what? His job was done, he wouldn’t have to take another kick so there was no risk of a second yellow, has that ever happened?

Chelsea, or more specifically Drogba, took things a stage further. He started to time waste, at home, from the beginning of the match. With the game in its infancy and the teams tied at 0-0 Drogba began theatrics so laughable that Busquets may have even felt embarrassed performing them. Graeme Souness last night proved himself a fool by claiming Drogba had to “stay on his feet” if Chelsea were to get anything from the match. This was of course wrong, Drogba spent so much time on the ground to try and break up the game, provide a rest for his team mates and starve Barcelona of momentum: it’s the right tactic, but its boring to watch.

Finally, El Classico, a game with so much talent you could watch them play all day – in fact if they played all day we might see 90 minutes of football. This is the most stop start game in football, and it ruins it. Madrid for all their special players have decided they, like every other team, can not afford to play Barcelona at football. So they sit back, break up play, commit niggly fouls and try to score on the counter. It is starting to work, Barcelona didn’t look like beating Barcelona on Saturday, Sid Lowe claimed the fans only believed it would happen for 3 minutes, but it was terrible to watch.

There are a couple of common denominators in these three examples. First, the team that wasted time got the desired result, second, the referees failed to deal adequately with the time wasting.

I was delighted to see Cech booked on the hour mark for his time wasting, it stopped it. If only Al-habsi had been treated similarly. I share the Barcelona players’ frustration as the ref stops play to go and see if Drogba is ok for the 5th time. Why not follow rugby’s example, as if, and allow physios on the pitch during play. If he is really hurt he will be treated. As for El Classico, I’d say it is almost impossible to referee and it is just a shame that the players with such talent stoop to that level to win a game.

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6 Responses to Killing Football As Well As Time. A Case Study: Wigan, Chelsea and Madrid

  1. Cardy422 says:

    No Chelsea lover me, but this is too negative, devoid of constructive (and even interesting) comment and contains too blinkered a view. I dont think I’ll be back on this site if this is the standard

    • Sean says:

      Sorry, did you think this was a post about Chelsea?

    • James says:

      Cardy422 – would you care to add a positive, constructive comment?

      Sean – great article. I agree with you that when teams start time-wasting from kick-off, the game is completely spoiled. I can understand teams doing it with 5-10 minutes to go, if they’re leading by a goal in a must-win game, though.

      Generally, I always support the team that avoids time-wasting/’parking the bus’ (ie: Spain vs Holland in the 2010 World Cup final). That’s why Chelsea’s semi-final success over a superior Barcelona team has really annoyed me. By playing 5-4-1 or 6-3-1 or 9-0-1 and time-wasting for 180 minutes, they acknowledged the fact that they are weaker than the opposition. Their spoiler tactics might have earned them the win they desired, but it feels hollow somehow. I’d much rather teams went toe-to-toe, playing to their own strengths than simply set out to ruin another team’s style.

      • Jamie says:

        I too feel that this article is a little too negative and doesn’t look at both sides of the equation. I love to watch beautiful football and time wasting does frustrate me. However, you cannot always expect teams to come out and play expansive attacking football. You would rather Chelsea went toe-to-toe with Barca and played to their own strengths? They played them for 180 mins and were organised, combative and composed. They did go toe-to-toe with Barcelona, but on their own terms.

        You can’t expect teams to come up against Barcelona and play a passing game based on possession and flowing football, simply because they don’t let you. Barcelona are set up to pin teams down in their own boxes. Most of the time, their opposition aren’t allowed to play football and are forced to ‘park the bus’. Chelsea and Real were simply organised well enough to be able to cope with this and still attack when possible, getting 5 goals between them. If you want to watch an even match with flowing football coming from both teams then don’t watch Barcelona. They are the best in the world at ‘spoiling tactics’ and that is one of the reasons why they are so successful.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating Barcelona or anything, I’m just saying that football is a game of tactics and of coping with how your opposition play. Chelsea could deal with how Barca were playing (with a bit of luck on their side) and Barca couldn’t break them down. You have to applaud Chelsea for this.

  2. Jackson says:

    James- if u are annoyed cos of chelsea’s victory, u can simply go hug a transformer

  3. Sean says:

    I can not reply directly to your comment Jamie. But I don’t think my piece is in anyway moaning at Chelsea’s lack of ambition. The piece is NOT about Chelsea. I used them as an example about the chronic problem of time-wasting. Whilst it might be fun to see a team go after Barce once in a while I am well aware that their Tiki-Taka football is as good a defensive weapon as an attacking one and it makes it almost impossible for teams to go after them. So they sit back and hope to defend brilliantly and get a bit of luck, Chelsea did this superbly and I can only congratulate them. My point about the tie was that Drogba started to time-waste when the teams were level and had nearly 180 minutes of football to play. I prefer to watch the ball on the pitch whether Barce are playing it around or Chelsea are counter-attacking than Drogba roll around holding his privates.

    For future commenters; Chelsea played very well and deserve the credit they are being given (except Lampard, he is a horrible coward who tried to break Fabregas’s leg and should be missing the final)
    What I don’t like is time-wasting, whether it is Chelsea, Wigan, Madrid or Barcelona.

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