Winning suffices. Apparently.

Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly football.

G. H. Hardy

— A Mathematician’s Apology, London, 1941


Maybe math-unrelated, but it is still rant-worthy material; our Orange.
I’m not sure if you watched them play against Japan today, but to give you a little summary; we sucked. Big time. While that was highly disappointing, what really frustrated me were the people on tv commenting on it. Basically, their story was:

‘Well, it was not very good, but we won and that’s all that matters. Even more, winning when you perform sucky is how you win a tournament. The Germans and Italians are kind of used to play defensively too, and they always do good at tournaments, while the times we played beautifully didn’t get us very far. So uglyness suffices and may be even preferable.’

Maybe it’s not necessary, but let me tell you why that’s all completely senseless.

I know that playing ugly is sometimes the rational thing to do. If you do not possess the qualities to play beautifully, or your opponent plays in such a way that attractive football is counterproductive, well, let’s do in it a different way then. But, and this is something that no-one seems to grasp, that doesn’t imply any of the above statements. Most importantly, playing ugly is totally different from playing utterly bad! It amazes me that everyone (unconsciously?) believes or acts like that they are equal, while I’m not even going to bother to explain why they’re not. Second of all, yes, by playing defensively we do look more like Italy. But thinking that that makes us more likely to win the world cup is clearly nonsense. Because we also look more like the team of Mozambique (which has very decent defenders*). Obviously more noteworthy, our qualities don’t lie with our defense. So it’s not a good plan to lean back on it, I guess. If you realise that the one thing we excel in, is attacking, you don’t have to be Einstein to realise that that’s the thing we should do! Another blatant fallacy is thinking that the fact that we won both matches so far is all that matters. Of course, you have to win on your off-days (and that’s what we’re usually quite bad at) and I’m more than happy with the results so far. But the fact that we won despite the fact we didn’t play well, doesn’t imply that we’re doing great. It just implies that we didn’t play well. So we’ve got every reason to fear the knock-out stages and should be lucky that we won by an own goal against Denmark and against Japan because of a keeper’s error! And in any case, even when some teams don’t ‘allow’ us to play attractive football, how on earth is Japan, with all due respect, one of these?

*I have no idea


3 Responses to “Winning suffices. Apparently.”

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