Football is dying. Not the sport itself. That’s still great.
But the storyline-driven soap opera just feels out of date.
Maybe Netflix is to blame. As ‘consumers of content’ (people that watch stuff), we’ve been simultaneously introduced and spoilt with sophisticated storytelling that’s forced the likes of the BBC, SKY and HBO to up their game. Furthermore, we can binge it.
Tuning into 380 games over the course of a year feels like a slog. Especially when you can smash through ‘Making a Murderer’ in 3.8 days (okay, 1.8 days).
WengerOut, Wenger versus Mourinho, Mourinho versus Pogba, Kepa versus Sarri, Sarri versus the world, Pochettino versus failure.
Journalists and pundits swing desperately from one plot to another. Storylines are determined by the score. It’s boring, I can’t keep up and it’s a poor reflection of how football really works.
Yesterday’s North London Derby epitomised the storyline problem. It was complex, nuanced and ended in a draw.
One of football’s favourite storylines is Arsenal’s dodgy defence. But they looked organised and solid for the most part. Their high line on set pieces felt risky, but arguably would’ve worked if not for that pesky linesman.
Arsenal looked solid yet fragile, smart yet stupid. Having a definitive spin was seemingly impossible.
Tottenham’s current story revolves around ‘failing under pressure’. The BT commentators (Darren Fletcher and Steve McManaman) attempted to claim the Tottenham passing was sloppy and slow. Reflective of a team lacking confidence.
And that might’ve been true to an extent, but every now and then this ‘slow and sloppy’ passing lead to a chance. Because Tottenham are a well organised and talented team.
The storytellers struggled to pin down a convincing narrative. Because the game was (and is) complex.
When the tackles started flying in, ‘Fletch and Macca’ put this down to the player’s derby day mentality.
Yet the minute the game calmed down, they ‘observed’ that the derby felt more like a pre-season exhibition.
Then Harry Kane and Sokratis locked horns, and they’d reference the gladiator-like battle that had been playing out all day.
From my perspective it was a fascinating game. A battle that came in waves. One minute nothing, the next an explosion of action. In the same phase of play, Tottenham looked shaky then sublime.
It reflected a technical, mental and physical nuance that makes football such an amazing sport to watch. In my opinion.
But for those whose job it is to apply a simple story, it must’ve been a nightmare.
No-one stuck to the script, and the commentators couldn’t keep up.
My feeling is that with this current crop of coaching intelligentsia, this is a trend that’s set to continue.