Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Wrong Inheritors

I loved David Winner's book Brilliant Orange--an idiosyncratic yet endearing tribute to the sometimes surreal world of Dutch football, and in particular the fabled World Cup '74 burnouts led by Johan Cruyff--and heartily recommend it to anyone out there. But I'm absolutely confused by this piece in The Guardian from yesterday, wherein Winner claims that the inheritors to Rinus Michels' alchemical brand of creative play are... Arsenal. Perhaps I've just been watching some other team that calls themselves the Gunners, but that proclamation seems insane to me. Have I been misunderstanding the basic ideas surrounding the idea of Total Football? No offense to my friends who support Arsenal, but whatever elements of TF that Wenger utilizes in games seems circumspect and superficial. However glamorous and formidable the Gunners seem on paper--and they are impressive at times--the team consistently revert to boring, conservative play (4-5-1 anyone?) on the pitch more so than not.

Am I completely misinformed here?

I admit my bias for Barcelona, and the team's connection with Dutch players and tactical ideas has been strong for decades. But it really does seem more appropriate to view them as the true inheritors of the TF system. Even then... Rijkaard's version of TF is still a modified version of the free-flowing theory. But it's the closest thing we've got.

I'll have to think about it some more. In the meantime, you can read Mr Winner's views on the matter here.

3 comments:

Matías Manna said...

HI!. I´m Matías from Argentina. I Love the book of Winner too, but I only read references because I´m living in Argentina and this is very expensive.

I read the article of Winner. I don´t see the Cruyff´s glorius vision in Arsenal. But this Team pass the ball every team, have a Henry and Fabregas and attack in the matches.

Con you write an email a matiasmanna@hotmail.com

I love dutch football. I want to talk with you. Thanks!

Thomas said...

Interesting point. I can see what you're saying about total football, and I certainly agree Barca represent the concept more closely than Arsenal, even if their (and this is hard for me to say as a Tottenham fan) football does flow beautifully sometimes.

But I too agree it needs to be thought out more. Brilliant Orange is one of the best books about football I've ever read.

Great blog by the way, will be adding you to the links on mine.

Derek said...

Well I'm glad that someone agrees with me 'cause I thought I was losing my mind there for a second.

Great blog as well, Thomas. And we'll be adding you to our list of faves.