Like with most things in life, football is debated and argued about all across the globe. This, in turn, leads to different opinions on almost every aspect of what we call the beautiful game, including football philosophy. One of the areas of much contention will be discussed today; as a fan, what would you rather see from your club? A style of play which excites you, or a less exciting game plan which ultimately culminates in better results?
What Do Fans Want? Rhythm or Results?
It is by no means an easy question to answer. Manchester United fans have been the most recent example of those who see their team win silverware, but fall asleep whilst doing so. This was, of course, under the reign of now ex-manager Jose Mourinho. Despite winning the club two trophies during his time there, he was not a fan favourite. Fans were left bored to tears by the stagnant, almost methodical, approach of United, who seemed content to grind out 1-0 wins instead of attempting to play in a more attacking sense. Mourinho once said: “why win 5-0 when 2-0 will do?”.
Russian Romantic or Lobanovskyi Lover?
The debate comes down to two camps: the football romantics and the pragmatists. As a fan, do you enjoy aesthetics or results? In the Eastern bloc whilst the USSR was still intact, the two managers who epitomised the two views were Eduard Malofeyev and Valeriy Lobanovskyi. Both managing the national team of the USSR, the two had polarised footballing philosophies.
Malofeyev was a football romantic. His style of play was branded ‘sincere football’ and was all about ‘playing with the heart’. Lobanovskyi, on the other hand, was a pragmatist in all senses of the word, possessing an analytical eye for detail that current statisticians can only dream of.
The two managers had a bitter rivalry which was exacerbated further due to their managerial success. The point to take away from each man’s legacy, however, is that both styles of play can work.
Malofeyev won silverware with Dynamo Minsk whilst playing beautifully, but it was only one title. Lobanovskyi won 17 trophies with Dynamo Kyiv. On paper, it would appear that the methodical approach is the way to go then. Or is it? Is there a way to combine both the beautiful philosophy of ‘sincere football’ with scientific analysis? Yes, and the man to do it is Pep Guardiola.
The Best of Both Worlds?
Guardiola is the managerial genius who has combined both beautiful football with silverware. The Spaniard’s trophy record speaks for itself and his style of play is the huge cherry on top. The Barcelona team of the past decade was a thing of beauty which elegantly mesmerised all who opposed them on their way to winning virtually every trophy available. Could they be described as footballing perfection? Maybe, but the theme of Guardiola’s career has been rhythm AND results.
Last season we saw Pep’s Manchester City side win the title at a canter, breaking records and causing jaws to drop around the globe. For a fan, the way Guardiola teams play has to be the pinnacle, the perfect compromise of both aesthetics and silverware.
For managers, it is a balancing act. How much of each quality. A pinch of pragmatism and a spoonful of style? Each club will have a different formula, managers and fans will be split on the topic into the future, as they have been in the past. Both sides have their merits and whether it’s sincere or pragmatic; we’ll all still rush to watch the game either way.