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Thursday 8 October 2015

International Football Makes Me Appreciate Arsenal's Football More...

International breaks are always miserable, dull affairs when you are used to watching the Premier League and more specifically when you are used to watching Arsenal, such was the quality of football we saw Sunday. From watching Arsenal and then switching to Ireland really is a testing experience for any football fan. On one hand its great that there is any football, but on the other it can be likened to watching paint dry or whatever the footballing equivalent is. I remember when Trapattoni was the manager and the nearest Premier League team you could compare them too was probably the Stoke of Tony Pulis. Then again that is a bit harsh, on Stoke that is.

International football just does not compare to club football. The game is more slow and ponderous and there are so many teams that are clearly not at the same level. Look at San Marino, Gibraltar, Andorra and the like. There is no way they can compete. They have no hope going into these matches and are comprised of teachers and construction workers whose players are just happy to share the same pitch as some of the world's biggest stars. It seems like the best way for football fans to line up against their idols. Perhaps they will hold some sort of football like talent show equivalent to the 'X factor' to get onto these teams.

Then again it is easy to say that there are far too few competitive matches due to the inclusion of these teams and not offer up a solution. The biggest problem now stems from the fact that the European Championships, in France next summer, has expanded the amount of teams entering the competition to 24, thus the qualifying process will have to allow for that with more teams of a lower level competing.

I think what would make it more interesting, because you can't just not allow these teams to compete at all; but in club football there are League divisions so therefore there isn't the same contrast in the levels of the teams competing and as we have seen this season in the Premier League; anyone can beat anyone. It would be interesting if these lesser sides, who go out hoping not to lose by more than 5 and celebrate a draw like a victory in the World cup final, were all pitted against each other in some International League division, with let's say the top 2 teams progressing to the Euro qualifications.

Now I have no idea on the logistics of the whole thing, its just something that I have chewed on for a while and the benefits are clear for everyone too see. There would be more competitiveness among teams, thus making matches naturally more attractive for fans to pay money for. I also believe that this would benefit the minor nations competing in this international League as it would boost the confidence of those who managed to qualify. They would know they are going into matches they can win. It would be somewhat similar to the play-off's in the lower divisions.

There are a number of problem's with this, obviously. First of all who decides which nations aren't good enough so must enter this League? Are there enough poor teams or are there too many poor teams ? Would there be any interest from fans (the financial factor) ? I know there are so many difficulties that would need to be ironed out, but surely there can be something done to rectify the dour games we see on so many occasions. Perhaps it would only work for the World Cup, where the poorest teams of every continent (rather than just one continent for the specific championships such as Copa America, the Euro's etc.) enter into the League. Food for thought I guess.

Even the fact that we go into the final round of fixtures for the European qualifiers and that there are a number of teams looking to book their ticket to France in 2016, it just doesn't stack up. There may be an interesting narrative or subplot, but the football itself doesn't match the hype surrounding it.

As I began writing this piece its what got me appreciating Arsenal's football even more. We all know football is about winning at the end of the day, but I don't think it's the most important thing. If a team beats you with one shot from 50 yards out that was meant as a simple clearance and the goalkeeper did an Ospina and through it into the net, after you dominate the match and create chance after chance, playing great, hitting the bar and post on numerous occasions, how, then, can you say the team that gets the points is the best team?

It is the great fallacy of football that any team who plays great and loses, with the exception of Barcelona, is mocked for exactly that; putting in a great performance. How many times have we seen Arsenal play great and somehow lose the match, often through no clear fault of our own (sometimes you just can't stop a team scoring) and yet the headlines all read 'Once again Arsenal play well and lose' or 'Arsenal are more concerned with passing rather than scoring' or 'It doesn't matter how well you play, as long as you win'. The usual nonsense we have to listen too.

I simply don't believe that all that matters is you win, because quite simply, at the end of the day you can say you won the match for kicking a ball over a line, you can win the trophy; but you cannot say you are the best team, not really. You might have the shiny trophy and if that is all that matters, if its everything, then your eyes are fooled by empty rewards and you ears are fooled with empty praise and the feeling inside is as hollow as the trophy you've won. So I say, being the best team is what is most important. It's all about playing a great game, its the great thing about sport, unlike most things in life; its usually the best team that does win.

Just remember, it's very easy to discuss principles when nothing is at risk, when it comes to Cup finals, like the nature of the tournament itself, everything goes out the window.

I just love the fact that Arsenal try to win and try it the right way, both on and off the pitch. Then again that might be complete nonsense, it's just my subjective feeling.

Anyway I'll leave it there so. I've rumbled on far too much. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Have a good one! Please share if you like the post!

Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.

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