Kenny Dalglish 460
FOOTBALL, we’re led to believe, is more complex than ever.
Managers and coaches pore over performance statistics, study DVDs of the opposition, practice formations on the training ground and employ psychologists to ensure their players are mentally prepared.
All in order to come up with the tactical masterplan that will nullify their opponents’ strengths and weave attacking patterns that will bamboozle their attempts to counter ours. And still they cock it up.
Following logic that is either never explained or designed to imply that no-one outside the game can possibly understand the issues involved, they make selection or tactical decisions that have supporters scratching their heads and praying to their particular deity that they know what they’re doing.
Some managers build a reputation for being tactically astute; no-one could doubt, for example, that Rafael Benitez could plot a European fixture in such a way as to make the most of the resources available, and prey on opposition weaknesses. Yet even he was not immune to the occasional aberration.
The praise he received for turning round the Istanbul final mostly ignored the fact that he got us into the mess in the first place by omitting Dietmar Hamann in favour of Harry Kewell.
Picking Bolo Zenden and preferring Dirk Kuyt over Peter Crouch to lead the line in Athens also raised a few thousand eyebrows. These illustrate perfectly that sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don’t.
More recent evidence of course, was provided in our last two games, at Manchester City in the Carling Cup, and at home to Stoke in the league.
At the Etihad Backdoor Financing Stadium, the relegation of Jose Enrique to the bench and moving Glen Johnson to left-back baffled most of us ignorant punters who thought it a dangerous destabilisation of a previously solid back four.