Southern Connections 2005/6

'Route One’ Football - Alive And Well In The Premiership

17/Apr/2006 (Halifax) - Peter Beasley

As one of the sponsors today, we send our best wishes to everyone at the club, the fans and our visitors - have a great time - enjoy the game!

A few weeks ago on ‘Match of the Day’, West Bromwich Albion manager Bryan Robson faced the cameras after his side had been soundly thrashed 6-1 at Fulham. What did he have to say? Did he praise Fulham for their emphatic victory? Or castigate his players for their inept performance? No, he degraded the Cottagers for playing “Route One” football, akin to something seen over the local park on a Sunday.

I doubt whether all six of Fulham’s goals could be classified as “Route One” and even if they were, is Robson saying that the means is more important than the result? Surely all managers would love to be frequently on the right end of a 6-1 score line, regardless of the style of football in achieving it. The supporters would certainly be rolling in and the chairman grinning all the way to the bank.

Maybe Robson was ironically suggesting that his players would have been beaten by a park side; highly paid professionals having yet to solve how to cope with the simple long ball. You can imagine Robson running to the Man in Black in protest, claiming un-gentlemanly conduct, “Ref, that’s not fair, they’re just punting it up in the air”.

Perhaps if Bryan was less of a purist, his side would not be the perennial strugglers that they are. Every manager likes to think of their team as a “Good footballing side”. The reality is that some footballers have the ability to succeed at accurate, close control, passing skills more consistently than others. Variation is the key. A team that does not ‘mix it’ a bit will be predictable. It’s goals that win football matches, not touchline judges holding up score cards for the number of successful square passes across the back four.

How far would the record breaking York City 1983/84 side got without long balls aimed at Keith Walwyn for himself or John Byrne to score? It’s not a tactic exclusive to the lower leagues and park football. Top Premiership sides are not immune from playing the long punt forward sometimes and the best players will exhibit it with pinpoint accuracy, breathtaking skill and a lethal conclusion.

So I’ll be watching West Brom with more interest from now and I reckon I’ll see the odd, sneaky, fifty yard blast up field before long. I wonder if Bryan Robson will berate his players if it results in a goal?

At our April social evening, we enjoyed an interesting and informative telephone link up with Billy McEwan. A great evening - thank you Billy!!

NEXT Social Evening - 11th May 2006. Please check our website for details of our next social evening planned to be held on THURSDAY 11 MAY 2006 from 7.45 pm - everyone welcome. We meet at THE OLD DOCTOR BUTLER'S HEAD [in the upstairs function room], 2 Masons Avenue, London EC2 5BT. The pub is situated in a narrow street which can be reached from either Basinghall Street or Coleman Street [close to the Guildhall]. Nearest tube stations are BANK [suggest use exit one] and ST PAULS [both on the Central Line]; or MOORGATE [on the Northern, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines]. Some limited street parking available in Coleman Street [at Moorgate end]. Lots of real ales on offer! Pub telephone number 020 7606 3504. Everyone welcome.

More information? Please check our website

Kit Kat Crescent Southern Connections