Long Balls, Short Balls and Right Balls

Long Balls, Short Balls and Right Balls
September 27, 2012 Tony Mckenna (Macattack)

 By TTT subscriber Tony McKenna (macattack).

The past summer really got me thinking about the fickleness of football fans. It started with the West Ham faithful reportedly castigating Big Sam with chants of ‘We are West Ham, We play on the floor’. Allardyce retorted by calling the fans ‘deluded’, indicating the team’s current push for promotion which actually came to fruition. The dissenting Hammers, albeit indirectly, more or less sanctionedLiverpool fans discontent with Roy Hodgson; if the long ball was anathema to them – even when winning – then why should we have accepted it when we were losing?

But only weeks later, Spain, the revered exponents of beautiful possession football, were on their way to winning the Euros; lo and behold they were booed for being ‘boring’. What gives? You surely cannot have both styles of playing derided in the same time frame. The thought perplexed me so much that I decided to look deeper. I also recalled Kenny, in April, aghast at the disappointing results despite the way we were playing; he was even exasperatedly minded towards potential compromise when pontificating the solution of ‘not playing the lovely football that we have been’.

That was it; I found this all rather compelling. I decided to look deeper into usage of the long ball and discover if even the possession-based teams have a propensity for using it at times; are we too self-conscious about always playing beautiful football? I also wished to explore whether there was any justification for calling Spain boring. To include a Liverpool perspective, I wondered whether tiki-taka, and Brendan Rodgers’ way of playing, was actually becoming too well known to maintain its efficacy. Perish the thought; but I dared to go there. All stats are from EPLindex; unless otherwise stated.

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