By John Cartwright
The use of various adjectives to describe levels of performance in Association Football for both individual and teams’ has become alarmingly ‘over-hyped’— especially here in the UK. For various reasons, but generally because of financial reasons (Media — Press and TV coverage) or low game understanding from general ‘watchers’ of football, descriptions of football have become ‘bloated’ with extravagant use of ‘FAKE STANDARDS’. Adjectives like the word ‘great’ are used too frequently when describing ‘basic’ playing qualities and have become words that merely ‘fly false flags’ on performance.
The infiltration of ‘hype’ into football is camouflaging the true standards required for success. This deceitful use has become a serious cause for the extended failures we have suffered at senior levels of the game. ‘Simplicity’ is being hailed as ‘Greatness’ instead of it being recognised as a playing option. I am not suggesting that simple options in a game are not important—they are, but the use of high status adjectives like ‘Great’ should be used for high status actions not basic choices or ability.
By continuing to promote low playing standards by using over-hyped descriptive words, we make the teaching and learning of the game more difficult….how can ‘true greatness’ be achieved if ‘basic performance’ is recognised as the ‘pinnacle of performance’? This ‘fudged’ judgement of performance is easily recognisable in our game in which… English players lack individual skills… possession football lacks penetration…there is too much reliance on speed alone and not speed with skill and positive end products.
The recent World Cup in Russia, was an example of ‘hyped-false standards’. Yes, the general organisation and facilities of the Tournament deserve to be called ‘Great’, but can one truly say that the vast majority of the games played deserved the same high praise? I don’t think so! England’s performances have been applauded for what—coming fourth! Having drawn a somewhat comfortable grouping followed by what should have been an equally comfortable ‘knock-out ‘ stages we failed to produce a single performance that deserved more than an OK..….they gave 100%…. but our 100% is full of just basic effort and lacks individual greatness. It certainly did not deserve a demand for ‘Black Waistcoats’ nor the ‘renaming of a Railway Station’!!
Another sequel to ‘blusterings’ about performance has occurred with our younger teams having success recently in Euro and World Tournaments. Yes, there seems to be some talented young players in the squads but it is a long way from junior to senior football. These youngsters must go beyond the usual standards where for too long strength, speed and organisation have been the over-riding factors in our game. All very important, but to attain success and greatness, there must be the inclusion of skilful individualism, astute game understanding and a strong, determined mentality and character.
Whilst we allow Media ‘hype’ and not true quality performance to blind us into accepting false standards in our football, there is the inevitability that, ‘false words’ and not ‘positive actions’ will continue to direct the future of our game towards failure…. not success!