liverpool

United 20 – Gerrard 0

I’m going to be interested to see how many Liverpool fans read past the title of this piece. If commenting on this blog was something that people did I’m sure it would be full of Liverpool fans saying how ridiculous the banner is and how I, as a United fan are just jealous of their season and to get back in my box. Well here is something that a lot of Liverpool fans might not expect I think the banner that flew over Anfield on the final day of the season was an absolute joke.

I’ve always described myself as a football fan first and foremost. Manchester United are my team, they have been since I first knew what football was and I will support them through good and bad times (and yes, this is really the first time in my life that you could consider bad although I’m sure Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich fans will tell me I have no idea what bad times are). Some might think that sounds kind of silly but let me explain the difference here. While I may have some fun with friends who support other football teams to me being a fan of football means that I can fully appreciate other teams, not just me own. I’m sure 90 percent of United fans still would never have a nice thing to say about Liverpool; the club or the fans I am someone who has openly said that if Liverpool son the Premiership title this year they deserved to and I would have applauded them for that, in the same way that today I applaud City. It’s about seeing above the rivalries, or at least not boiling them down to petty squabbling which is all too prevalent in football amongst fans.

Trophies Don't Make a Great Footballer

Trophies Don’t Make a Great Footballer

When I heard about the banner that flew over Anfield there was a part of me that found it funny, as someone who has a decent relationship with fans of other clubs, Liverpool fans included it’s the kind of thing I could say to someone who knows full well that I still appreciate Steven Gerrard as an all time great footballer. Those who arranged that banner would not have thought that, it would have been done because in their minds they think that the amount of trophies you win determine how good of a footballer you are.

If you are someone who thinks trophies won equals fantastic footballer have a little look at some of these names: Anderson, Raymond Van Der Gouw, Karel Poborsky, Darren Ferguson, Fabio and Luke Chadwick. All of those United players have at least one Premier League winners medal. Does that make them great footballers? Certainly not. For the most part it is a testament to Sir Ale Ferguson that he won so many titles with such dross but the fact remains that regardless of the number of league titles Steven Gerrard has one he is still one of the best footballers of his generation and someone that I am glad to say I have seen play.

This Man Has Four Premier League Winner Medals...My God.

This Man Has Four Premier League Winner Medals…My God.

It’s been funny over the years watching United fans (myself included) get annoyed with Liverpool fans who keep talking about their past glories. When they weren’t fighting for titles you would still always get Liverpool fans taunting United when they slipped up and missed out on trophies. So you would have thought that now the tables have turned this season you would have thought that United fans would have just sat quietly but no, the roles have well and truly reversed. I’m really not saying there should be no banter between clubs whatsoever (apologies for use of the word banter) but nine times out of ten there isn’t any humour intended when fans of these two great clubs come together. These people who flew the banner over Anfield genuinely believe Gerrard is an awful player and that him sticking with his boyhood club is something to laugh at. It isn’t.

It’s been a fantastic season for those who love football. Yes your club might not have had the greatest season but from the top of the Premiership to the bottom of League Two we have been treated to some fantastic football, as well as some utter dross of course. Here is looking forward to next season, here is hoping United are back challenging for the title but firstly, here’s hoping for a great World Cup and let’s just remember that whatever team wins the tournament there will be some absolutely awful players.

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Play to Win, Not to Entertain.

If England played football like Chelsea at the world cup and won it, I wouldn’t care less, it’s about winning. It’s not pretty, but it gets the results. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it week in week out, but if it gets results then that is what matters.

A lot of people will tell you that football is entertainment and while for us, the fans we can certainly see it as entertainment the fact remains, when all is said and done football is a sport, it is about a team playing to win trophies. You don’t play football as a kid to entertain your parents watching on the sidelines, you play to win and its the same all the way up the football pyramid, it doesn’t change.  It shouldn’t change. Just because football is now this huge global phenomenon the core goal is still the same, win football matches. Win trophies.

It's all about trophies

It’s all about trophies

While I would love teams I watch or have played for to play beautiful, free flowing attacking football I would still sacrifice that for victories. That feeling of winning outweighs anything else. If Chelsea end up winning the Champions League and maybe even the Premier League then do you think Mourinho, the players or the fans will care about the striker less team that was put out at Old Trafford earlier this season or the digs from other managers who have been defeated by Chelsea? Not at all, that feeling of having your club lifting a trophy is amazing.

There is that phrase that manager’s use just before they get sacked; it’s a results business. And that is the truth of it. While there are a few owners of clubs who might get rid of a manager for not being entertaining (and Abramovich was one of them, he seems to have accepted results over style now) the most important thing, especially in the modern game where the amount of money a club receives for just staying in the Premier League is astronomical, is results. Just look at the handful of clubs at the bottom of the Premier League at the moment.  There have been so many changes of manager because the results just have not been coming.

Yes as fans we would love to see free flowing football but whether its on a park on a Sunday, or playing at Anfield / Old Trafford at 3pm on a Saturday the main goal is the same, win a football match. You play the right tactics against the right teams.

Only the result counts

Only the result counts

To address the criticism of Chelsea a little more head on hear I actually think Mourinho would be playing a little more expansive if he had brought a striker in the summer or in the January transfer window, he is playing to his teams’ strengths. I have absolutely no issues with how he sets his teams up to get a result, Liverpool and Rogers were sore losers on Sunday and of course you can understand that a little, being close to their first title in over two decades and seeing it slip away must be heart breaking but Mourinho did his homework, knew Liverpool have one way of playing (which is beautiful to watch and will blow away 90 percent of other teams in the league) and set out his team to counter that and win. And he did.

What doesn’t sit well with me about Mourinho is how he criticises other teams for setting up teams against him in the same vein. He’s a genius when he does it, but Big Sam and West Ham play 19th century football when they do it.

Jose-Mourinho-001

Love it or hate it, Mourinho’s way of playing football is successful and while the larger football world might not look back in twenty years time and remember that classic Chelsea side who won all those trophies, the history books will still read that Chelsea won and if Mourinho comes out against Athletico Madrid tonight and heads to Lisbon to face his old club Real Madrid in the final then again his tactics from the first leg would be totally justified.

To take you back to the top of this piece I will ask a question of you: If England (or your nation if you aren’t English, I’m not UKIP) win the world cup playing the type of football Chelsea have in the big games this season would you really complain? Or would you be out on the streets waving your flags and having a few drinks? I’ll be out on the streets.