Date:Monday September 21 2009
I think it was Arsene Wenger who coined the term 'anti-football', a style of football that is designed to contain and dismantle rather than create and entertain.
The Arsenal manager is one of the last bastions of the purest form of the game, a man who, quite stubbornly and costly on occasion, will never deviate from the pass and move free flowing football most of us have all come to love (and some, rather bizarrely, hate) him for ...... even if it costs us points.
Arsene Wenger believes in the game, he believes that no matter what, teams should try to entertain, to be creative and to express themselves. Nothing seems to frustate the man, often refered to as 'The Professor' more than tactics designed to stifle and break down his beautiful game.
Indeed the Arsenal gaffer has long been a champion of introducing a 'points for goals' style system into world football to encourage teams to press forward and try to earn something from a game that would otherwise be futile rather than let 'anti-football' win the day.
Mr Wenger has been speaking again about persistent fouling in football matches going unpunished, insisting that teams are using the lack of punishment to their advantage, making small fouls in the middle of the park to break up play and slow the game down without attracting the attention of the match officials.
'It is not especially aimed at any particular player, but it looks to me that some players make repeated fouls and do not get punished. The yellow card is not linked with the number of fouls a player makes, but only with the spectacular side of the fouls. If some player always makes little fouls - and in the last four games we played, every single team had one player who did that. I am not saying who in particular it is. I don`t want to make any big fuss over it, I just want to make referees alert to it.' Said Wenger speaking with Arsenal.com
'I think the referee has all the rules in the book that if a player makes three or four little fouls, it is a yellow card. If you make one spectacular foul, like Song did on Saturday, even if it is not dangerous you get a yellow card. In their team you had players who made four, five, six, seven fouls and didn`t get a yellow card.'
'I think I will try and speak to them [the FA], yes,'
'We have already talked about it at a UEFA meeting because in the modern game you play always against 10 defenders. So when you can get four against four, or three against three and you get punished and have to start again from zero, it is difficult. This also goes for Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, everybody.'
I admire Wenger, I admire him for everything he does, I admire his ethics, his morals and his resolve, however I fear he's on a hiding to nothing on this subject, he'll be branded as a whinger expecting smaller teams to rollover and let his team play to their strengths. And I'll admit it does come across that way a smidgin', but I believe what Wenger is talking about, and the things he has proposed in the past have all been done with the good of the game in mind. Arsene Wenger isn't just campaigning for the good of his football club, he's campaigning for the good of the game he adores.
However if he expects anyone with even a modicum of power or influence to sit up and take notice, then I fear he's being a tad naive.
Date:Monday September 21 2009
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