By John Cartwright
Every time I watch Barcelona FC play I give thanks for seeing a club who have had the foresight to; determine a ‘revolutionary’ playing style; introduce a coaching and developments system to produce the coaches and players to play it; appoint a product of their development system as coach/manager of the club; and have the ‘guts’ to play their game, their way, despite criticism from the ‘fightball brigade’ who prefer a more ‘up and at ‘em’ version of the game.
Barcelona FC, have ‘RAISED THE BAR’ in football terms. What we are seeing from them is individualism moulded cleverly within a team structure. Their playing style is without doubt different from anything seen in the history of the game. Here is the ultimate example of the formation of a vision combined with careful planning to achieve it. From the inspired, original playing concept of Rinus Michels followed by Johann Cruyff, Barcelona FC have displayed a fierce determination to stick to their designated path and wait for their young players to come through to play their special brand of football in their first team. Should a ‘gap’ occur in a position, the club are immediately able to recognize what is required and obtain in the transfer market a player who has the playing qualities they need.
An interesting and vitally important aspect of the club’s success is, how they have ‘educated convinced’ their fans into accepting a game-style that most fans would find lacking ‘fire and fury’. Barcelona’s ‘positive keep-ball’ method of playing consists of extended periods of non-penetrative possession football before an opening is created. I believe the fans here would have difficulty in accepting this type of game-style, even if it did produce success! The ‘direct’ disease, so common to our game, is introduced at junior levels and the ‘infection’ progresses becoming an epidemic that is killing the chances of our footballing future.
Future young players must be ‘hidden’ from the ignorance of past and present development and playing ‘abominations’ that have wrecked havoc on the game here and be allowed to develop in a more careful and thoughtful way. The importance of individual skill acquisition with a more gradual introduction into team-play must form the basis of development thinking here. Playing ‘fightball’ in which speed, power and simplistic ability is recognized as greatness and winning playing ‘ugly’ football, must become a thing of the past.
Yes, Barcelona FC have ‘raised the football bar’ to such an extent that it is questionable whether anyone is capable of reaching or bettering the standards they have set. Their long-term vision and subsequent development planning was created by true footballing and coaching geniuses; do we have that quality of person here to do the same? I doubt it!! But I bet somewhere in the football world there will be those who are prepared to take on the challenge whilst we continue to flounder on a pathway to a football nowhere.