By Tom Gaunt
It is widely accepted that Barcelona are currently the best team in the world. Despite not winning the Champions League last season, most people accept that they sit on top of the pile. We will only know if this honorary title is justified over the next 2 months but I think we can safely say in World football they are considered number one. Taking it a step further most would probably also regard them as the team that plays the most attractive or beautiful football in the world, but are they really that exciting to watch. I don’t think so. Maybe it is a deep hatred for the club stemming from their unjust victory over my beloved Chelsea or whether I have a very different taste from most football fans, but I would prefer to watch Blackpool any day of the week.
Now don’t get me wrong Barcelona are a good team to watch, but I do find myself quite often bored. You may argue this is due to their domination, a one sided game is often very dull, but surely that does contribute to how exciting a side they are, and the desire held to watch them play. So this raises the question of what is good football?
My gripe is not specifically with Barcelona, I am not ignorant enough to suggest they play anything but excellent football, but by what parameters do we define good football. When I watch a match I want excitement and when Barcelona play 50, 10 yard passes around the midfield it does little for my heart rate. I have thought in recent years that Arsenal are a poor man’s Barcelona, as they seem to adopt this same style of passing the ball around without ever really going for goal. Now fortunately for Barce they are so precise with their passing that they can accurately dissect a defence and have the ball in the back of the net without raising a sweat. The top teams in the world are probably a victim of their own success with many of their games over after an hour and most happy to avoid injury and see a game out keeping fresh for bigger future battles.
When I pick what game I am going to watch on a Saturday afternoon, if my team aren’t playing, I always watch Blackpool as you are guaranteed a great game. There are always lots of chances, the pace is always frenetic and both teams get lots of chances. This to me is exciting and good football. The sad thing about the way Blackpool play is that it will probably see them relegated this season and whichever Championship team takes their place will I am, sure learn from how not to stay in the premiership and adopt the “Hoof it first, think later” approach teams like Stoke adopted to stay up.
Ian Holloway has got his team giving 110% and trying till the death, something many “stronger” teams could learn from. They have scored in every game at home and given their fans some great games. Based on their skill level alone they probably should have gone down a long time ago, but Holloway has got them playing with a freedom that has seen them beat Liverpool home and away and almost shock United and Arsenal (had it not been for a clear pens not being given).
Recently there was uproar at the ticket prices for the Champions League final, 150 Euros for the cheapest ticket. These are simply the mechanisms of supply and demand, proven by the fact that 80,000+ fans will happily pay this and more, all hoping as we will at home that it lives up to the hype; but if you are talking ROI I would suggest taking a trip to Bloomfield Road 14th of May to watch their must win game against Bolton. I can 100% guarantee it will be an absolute cracker!