I guess the first post on this new blog should be something of a mission statement, an introduction to who I am, what I’m about and what you can expect from me.
I love good football, I love entertaining football, and I hate clichés and lazyness, both from players, and from journalists and observers.
I’ve been a Manchester United fan for almost 20 years, picking my team not on my proximity to Manchester (I live near Bath) but because the other kids in the park supported Manchester United and I didn’t have a team. After 20 years of some unbelievable highs, and very few lows (and even those are comparitive) I look back on that day in the park and think how different it could have been if I’d befriended the Villa fan first, not the United fan.
I love to see great defending, often as much as great attacking. A goal line clearance often as good as a jinking solo run. My first experiences of Football were playing 3 a side and road to World cup in the park with my mates. A diving header at the back post is, was and always will be the coolest way to score a goal as a result of an awful lot of well rehearsed moves involving playing the ball out wide, running for the back post shouting “HARTSON” and then launching myself at a diving header.
Last ditch sliding tackles look fantastic, 60 yard passes onto a sixpense make the crowd go wild, but usually it’s the players who you don’t notice who make a team tick. It’s usually when they don’t play and everything goes a bit pear shaped that you do notice them. I’m a champion of the underdog. Often I’ll like a player simply because I feel he is unfairly slated, pigeon holed or stereotyped.
To me the Great sides are exactly that because they can do everything well. Ajax of the 70s were the original Total Football team and changed everything. Barcelona now are sensational, but anyone who thinks that they are the first team to marry fantastic attacking talent with constant pressure all over the pitch is missing out on one of the great teams of all time and really needs to take a look at Cruyff and co.
At times I enjoy watching Arsenal play. But mostly they frustrate me. I actually prefer to watch Spurs play. They play with a pace and naievety that I love to see. Bale howeve r is a bandwaggon that people really need to get off, he’s fast and direct, and that’s exciting, but he’s not even the best player at Spurs, let alone the World. Modric pulls so many strings it’s unbelievable and would instantly fit into any team.
Players who have influenced me the most in terms of my love of the game are, in no particular order: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, John Hartson, Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Steve Bruce, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Rivaldo, Xavi, Paul Scholes, Del Piero, Ryan Giggs, Cruyff, Zico, Paulo Maldini, Gabriel Batistuta, Peter Schmeichel and Ronaldo.
I think teams need balance, that fans need patience, and that Football Manager has given too many people misguided ideas of creating dream team lineups. Teams need players who will put in a shift just as much as they need players who can change a match. Flair players are fantastic, they’re inspirational, they do things that make you jump up and shout, they make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. But they need the unsung heroes to be able to do that, just as the workers and the grafters need the magician to pull the rabit out of the hat sometimes. Balance is the key and when fans slate players like Michael Carrick I find myself thinking back to the dawn of the Galactico era, when Claude Makele was sold for not being glamourous enough. Fans need to take into account the role that a player has been given, and assess performances against that. If a player is sticking in front of the back four rather than running box to box, chances are it’s because he’s been told to, not because he’s lazy.
Twitter has changed the way that I look at Football completely. I used to chat about football with a few mates in the pub, watch Match of the Day on TV and read about football in the paper. Now there are millions of people looking to talk about the same things, with the same passion and a huge amount of knowledge. Some of the bloggers out there amaze me with their ability to provide insight and humour on a level that a lot of journalists should aspire to. These guys aren’t just churning up the same old transfer stories, they’re giving personal accounts of great footballing moments, new variations on classic encounters, the stories behind Football off of the beaten track and match previews and reports of a quality that blows me away, all for free, and all way before the papers hit the shops. If you’re on Twitter, give it a look, my username is @elhaydo and if you follow the people that I follow you’ll be in for a treat.
For now, that’s about about all I’ve got to offer by way of a summary, there’ll be more posts to follow obviously, and hopefully this gives a bit of an insight into me, and what makes me tick.