3 thoughts on “Thought for the day

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/jan/21/on-second-thoughts-serginho

    Large extract follows:

    “While the rat-a-tat attacks of Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Eder and Cerezo immediately caught the eye and the hairs on the back of the neck, Serginho’s job was to smooth those movements with often invisible contributions. It was a role also played by the equally derided Stéphane Guivarc’h in France’s World Cup-winning team of 1998. Guivarc’h was gauche at times, but that did not especially matter in the context of his position, and his coach Aimé Jacquet – who, let’s be honest here, knows more about football than us – remains incredulous that he is perceived as a flop in that tournament.

    In Inverting the Pyramid, Jonathan Wilson argues convincingly that, in the modern game, scoring goals need not be a centre-forward’s principal purpose. The international ostracism of Michael Owen lends huge weight to such a view. Brazil had eight different scorers in their five games; why would they want a specialist goalscorer? If we accept that, it is not entirely mischievous to suggest that Serginho was 15 or 20 years ahead of his time.

    The idea that Brazil just rocked up and played is romantic bunkum. Even they need structure and discipline. There was a palpable co-ordination to their movements, particularly in the way the midfielders exchanged positions. In what often amounted to a 2-7-1 formation, given the adventure of the full-backs, Serginho became the faciliator. His role was precise and rigid, a nod to futebol de resultados even though most would like to believe that Brazil played futebol d’arte. He defended from the front (his goal against Argentina stems directly from him dispossessing Daniel Passarella); he dragged defenders across the field, into dark alleys where they could not see what was going on behind them; he used his marker as a La-Z-Boy, easing into him while waiting for the midfield cavalry to arrive. Routine stuff these days; less so in 1982.”

  2. Serginho may or may not have been an accident, but this is absolutely not a new thing. Strikers for whom scoring is not the be-all-and-end-all have always been around. In times past when goal scoring was much easier, we’ve had number 9’s who no one would dispute were international class like Mark Hughes, who scored a goal every 3.7 games in the top division, and Duncan Ferguson, who scored a goal every 3.6 games, whose numbers don’t look too different from Emil Heskey, whose record is a goal every 4.3 games. Those guys were strong men who put themselves about, but whose real talent was link play.

    Hughes, in particular, was the harbinger of things to come. United in the 90s played with him up front and Cantona, Giggs and Kanchelskis/Poborsky/Sharpe down the wings scoring goals. People were always going on about their need for a 20-goal-a-season striker. And I’m sure that Ferguson would’ve loved one who could also do what Hughes could do. But that’s a very special talent. And they did just fine without one.

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