By The Secret Pundit Per Dantic
‘That’s something they’ve practised on the training ground’
That’s one of the ‘go-to’ phrases for the commentators. Mostly you’ll hear them say it after a free-kick routine. Very occasionally they’ll say it about a corner routine. They save it for when we’ve just seen some innovative choreographed movement designed to dishevel their opponent, with players moving from here, and to there, and the ball not going where you expected. Then the commentators will say ‘That’s something they’ve practised on the training ground’.
It’s a piece of trickery and deception, like a magician performing a trick. Obviously it’s not real magic because, of course, the use of mysterious or supernatural forces is not allowed within the rules of the games – it’s probably covered under ‘ungentlemanly conduct’ and would likely result in a yellow card being shown.
My question to you is, why do they only mention free-kicks and some corners being practised at the training ground? They never mention anything else being practised there. Are they suggesting that the team spend their whole time there going over and over fiendishly novel set plays? That would suggest that they will make everything else up on the fly come match day. If that were true they would rename the training ground something like ‘the centre of ad-hoccellence’.
Surely footballers practice everything on the training ground. They go there most days during the season. The commentators could say ‘That’s something they’ve practised on the training ground’ about overlapping runs. They could say ‘That’s something they’ve practised on the training ground’ about through balls. They could say it about goal kicks, off the ball runs, playing out from the back, setting pressing traps, throw-ins, defending with two banks of four, stepping up as a backline and calling for an offside flag, and on and on. They could say ‘That’s something they’ve practised on the training ground’ about most things footballers do in any given game.
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