Was football better?

Chat about football that isn't Everton in here
Shogun
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Was football better?

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I don't think anyone will disagree that in terms of fitness and tactics, the game has moved on massively even in the last 20 years or so. You only have to look at the Premier League and see that managers like Allardyce, Pulis, Warnock, Pardew and their ilk have all been left behind and clubs are moving to managers who probably have a more progressive way of playing football. I think you could argue Dyche is probably the modern upgrade on those type of managers but even then he seems a rarity in top level football.

Watching this weekend of 3rd round FA Cup action though, the gap feels as wide as it ever has been between the Premier League and the other leagues. Apart from Maidstone taking out League One Stevenage, there hasn't really been a sniff of an upset and definitely nothing close to a giant killing. Even a struggling club like Sheffield United has gone to Gillingham and just won 4-0.

I wonder if the homogenisation of the game, the way teams play and the way managers view the game just leads the an environment where the best players will win more often than not because there's not enough variety in the way teams approach football and it's killing the competitiveness of football.

Also, and this is probably as 'old man shouts at clouds' as I think I'll ever get, I do think the excellent conditions of pitches these days are another hindrance. Even in the early 2000s you would get lower premier league teams where the pitch could be horrible and the top sides wouldn't enjoy playing there. Now, it's basically guaranteed to be a very high quality even in the lower leagues.
AjaxAndy
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Modern tactics and fitness levels + superior coaching and mentality mean modern footy is very efficient but also stale.

It lacks the characters of the past because there's not any street ballers out there now, no mavericks because everything is done in a way to achieve a set goal and it's robbed the sport of it's individuality.

It also means that the gap between the top clubs and lower leagues has widened so much because if you can afford all the modern science and coaching methods as stale as it is, it's also highly effective at achieving the end goal.

Long gone are the days everyone played the same formation and just pure will power and a bobbly pitch could level the playing field.

Apart from when we played Doncaster, because you can always guarantee that if there's a way to fail or almost fail Everton will find a way!
CannockPricey
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I think a lot of what you say is right. I think the lack of 3rd round shocks was slightly surprising but only because it has been supplemented in recent years by PL teams rotating the squad to such an extent that they lose. Genuine upsets when PL sides play a full side are certainly getting rarer. Supposed shocks in rounds one and two have become more frequent though as I think the bottom end of the game e.g. L2 v non league has seen the opposite effect with standards getting much closer. More full time non league sides and the bottle neck of only one automatic and one play off spot from the National League to L2 has meant those two divisions could pretty much be merged and split regionally to reduce costs and you wouldn't notice much of a drop in standard.

Overall to your point though, yes I think football was better, styles were more varied and results more unpredictable. And in some ways Pulis v Wenger was more exciting than Pep v Arteta.

But I might also be an old fella howling at the moon.
cassius
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I do think the widening gaps at the top of the game are making it all a bit dull for me.

Although maybe in the 90s I'd have said United's dominance made it dull too?

In 35 years, there have only been 7 different winners of the Prem and if you take out the one time winners, those small clubs whose win was something of a fluke or a one off (Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Liverpool) the league has been shared between 4 teams since 1992.

The FA Cup is no better, Leicester, Portsmouth, Wigan, ourselves and plucky Liverpool the only teams to break the dominance of those big 4 since 1992.

There's never really been much competitiveness in the game in my lifetime.

I think @CannockPricey is right about the bottom end of the game though.
Bluedylan1
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I think the overwhelmingly biggest factor is money. As with wider society in the UK, the rich-poor divide has grown massively, and football as an industry is subject to the same forces that other industries are.

Under capitalism, the purpose and the goal of an entity is to make the most money, always keep growing, eradicate all opposition, remove competition and remove risk. Football clubs behave that way now, because they are such big business. The richest clubs would've happily left for the Super League and ended all competition for ever in a closed shop. There is no concern for the ''health of the game'' or a sustainable football pyramid. Under hyper capitalism, those corporations are really behaving as they should - maximising profit, eradicate the opposition and any sense of competition.

And in a different way, they actually already have a closed shop anyway. If a football club innovates and challenges the power structure with huge overachievement (Dortmund, Monaco, Brighton) they quickly get cannibalised by the richest clubs and they eventually return to the pack.

So yeah, football was better in the past, in the most important areas - the sport, the competition and the meritocracy aspect of it.

We've had a lot of improvements and innovations that have made the game better (less racism, less homophobia, more opportunities for women, less hooliganism etc etc), but the corporatisation of the sport has damaged it beyond compare.

Kids all over the country (and the world) aren't that bothered about following their local team, unless their local team is one of the giants. The entire point of football was that your local club was the representation of your local community, and then you pit your skills against other teams and communities. The club was an embodiment of certain values and was shaped by historical, geographical and political factors. Now the club is Starbucks or McDonalds.

And your can't put the toothpaste back in the tube now.
biziclop
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Shogun wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 10:53 pm Also, and this is probably as 'old man shouts at clouds' as I think I'll ever get, I do think the excellent conditions of pitches these days are another hindrance. Even in the early 2000s you would get lower premier league teams where the pitch could be horrible and the top sides wouldn't enjoy playing there. Now, it's basically guaranteed to be a very high quality even in the lower leagues.
One more thing to mention here is that pitch sizes have been largely standardised. There's the occasional few yards of difference here and there but the days of small teams having the shortest and narrowest pitches they can get away with, while big teams having extra-wide pitches are gone.
CannockPricey
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cassius wrote: Tue Jan 09, 2024 7:05 pm I do think the widening gaps at the top of the game are making it all a bit dull for me.

Although maybe in the 90s I'd have said United's dominance made it dull too?

In 35 years, there have only been 7 different winners of the Prem and if you take out the one time winners, those small clubs whose win was something of a fluke or a one off (Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Liverpool) the league has been shared between 4 teams since 1992.

The FA Cup is no better, Leicester, Portsmouth, Wigan, ourselves and plucky Liverpool the only teams to break the dominance of those big 4 since 1992.

There's never really been much competitiveness in the game in my lifetime.

I think @CannockPricey is right about the bottom end of the game though.
Congratulations on your use of Liverpool here. I know it's factually correct but the emphasis is really good work. This would get a real chomp out of them.
Stumpy
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Shogun wrote: Mon Jan 08, 2024 10:53 pm I don't think anyone will disagree that in terms of fitness and tactics, the game has moved on massively even in the last 20 years or so. You only have to look at the Premier League and see that managers like Allardyce, Pulis, Warnock, Pardew and their ilk have all been left behind and clubs are moving to managers who probably have a more progressive way of playing football. I think you could argue Dyche is probably the modern upgrade on those type of managers but even then he seems a rarity in top level football.

Watching this weekend of 3rd round FA Cup action though, the gap feels as wide as it ever has been between the Premier League and the other leagues. Apart from Maidstone taking out League One Stevenage, there hasn't really been a sniff of an upset and definitely nothing close to a giant killing. Even a struggling club like Sheffield United has gone to Gillingham and just won 4-0.

I wonder if the homogenisation of the game, the way teams play and the way managers view the game just leads the an environment where the best players will win more often than not because there's not enough variety in the way teams approach football and it's killing the competitiveness of football.

Also, and this is probably as 'old man shouts at clouds' as I think I'll ever get, I do think the excellent conditions of pitches these days are another hindrance. Even in the early 2000s you would get lower premier league teams where the pitch could be horrible and the top sides wouldn't enjoy playing there. Now, it's basically guaranteed to be a very high quality even in the lower leagues.
Great post shogs.
Yeah defo football is duller for me now.
I consider myself so lucky to have been around when we winning things in the 80's, to be at wembley to watch your team lift the fa cup and wait for them to be presented with the league trophy at your home ground like i have is every fans fantasy.
But that's just what it is now for us, a fantasy.
Am i an old man shouting at the clouds?
Of coarse i am.
I pretty much dislike everything about modern football.
The lack of competition is a big one but there's so much more.
The lack of games at 3 o'clock on saturdays,the appalling standard of refereeing, the cheating, the diving, the play acting and worst of all var has sucked the life, soul and joy out of the game.
I posted last week on different threads about 2 of the best days of the season in years gone by, boxing day and the 3rd round of the fa cup.
This year we didn't even play on boxing day and on saturday out of 32 ties 10 were played on saturday at 3 o'clock.
Another thing that gets me is the stage managed cup draws, there was nothing better than being huddled around a radio in work at half 12 on a monday afternoon waiting for the draw trying to work out what number we were.
I remember in 1984 i was on a big site at thornhill in cardiff and there was another big site next to ours and when the draw was made there was between 20 and 30 blokes crammed into a room in one of the houses to listen to the draw for the 3rd round shouting and bawling when our teams were drawn out, now i don't even watch it.
As others have posted on this topic it's the complete lack of characters in the game now.
I have read a number of books from players back in the day, plenty of our players, and guys like Stan Bowles(brilliant read),Paul McGrath and John Charles all with stories to tell.
Who would you really want to read about now?
cassius
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CannockPricey wrote: Tue Jan 09, 2024 8:40 pm Congratulations on your use of Liverpool here. I know it's factually correct but the emphasis is really good work. This would get a real chomp out of them.
Oh wow yeah, I hadn't even noticed it came across that way😏
cassius
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Hopefully this thread was designed to give Middlesbrough a lift in their semi against Chelsea
CannockPricey
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Being honest, if Boro got through and then beat them lot in the final, Everton would have to win the FA Cup for that not to be the highlight of my season.
Goaljira
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I don't know if 'duller' is the right term. I'm trying to come up with the word I want along the lines of 'less magical', but I know that's not what I mean 100% but my vocabulary function after a stressful day isn't quite there.

Surprises happen less, and even when they do they're less pronounced. And even then you don't get the same immediate excitement during the game because of having to wait for VAR to tell you if you can really celebrate, and then the moment is gone. You can't bounce around hugging strangers after getting an apology from the PGMOL(I don't know what the actual acronym is, and I can't be arsed checking. It's close enough that you know what I mean if it's wrong) 3 days later.

There's also a lot of hope been taken away. Growing up even when we were skint it was always there that maybe a Jack Walker esque sugar daddy would take us over and throw away his fortune instead of handing it over to undeserving grandchildren. 'Imagine you've got £50m to spend...' was a common conversation in the mid-90s where you could realistically buy 7-10 recognisable players with that who would transform your team. Adjust that for inflation and now what does £100m get you? 3, maybe 4 players looking for a stepping stone for a season or 2 who are better than what you've got, but not the finished article yet. And if you don't get a 50% success rate then you've fucked yourself for the foreseeable due to FFP.

On the other side of money, It costs too much to be a football fan. Whilst our tickets have mostly stayed inline with inflation, the associated costs such as travel, food, kits/merchandise, etc have increased above inflation whilst wages haven't risen the same was making going the game prohibitively expensive for most. And then there's the cost of watching it at home. There's more games than ever on TV, and if you're staying legit it's costing you about £70 a month for Sky, BT and Amazon. And that's 12 months a year not just the 9.5 months footballs actually on because they lock you in to 18 month contracts.

Sticking with the TV games, there's too many on now. The clubs want more money, so they sell more games to the TV companies, who as per above then charge you more so you can have access to more games you don't really want to.pay for it. There's nothing special about TV games now. It's not a reward for being good, or it potentially being an exciting game, or there being a secondary narrative playing out. It's a contractual obligation.

And as a non-local fan getting to the game via car or train nowadays feels like so much more of a ball ache. Now, part of that maybe that I've moved a few miles further away, but even without that J11-18 of the M6 is an absolute cunt of a road no matter which of the random kick off times we've ended up with that week.

So considering the last two points the development of IPTV showing every game in the world for £10pm saving you all the expenditure in both time and money to watch every Everton game that's on. Except we're Everton fans, and having every match available for the last few seasons isn't a good thing. There's a fair chunk of us on here that are in more match threads than not that would definitely have better mental and physical health if we'd spent whatever 2 hours doing something(anything) different instead.
blueToffee
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Some truth in this:


I don't love how clearly analyst driven and mechanical some teams are at times. All seems very risk averse, which in turn makes the game less exciting. Or perhaps it's more that the risk/reward balance has skewed to rewarding the wrong things. The innocuous handballs in the box being one of them with defenders having to play with their arms behind their backs...it's all a bit silly.
wepull
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blueToffee wrote: Wed Jan 10, 2024 7:31 pm Some truth in this:


I don't love how clearly analyst driven and mechanical some teams are at times. All seems very risk averse, which in turn makes the game less exciting. Or perhaps it's more that the risk/reward balance has skewed to rewarding the wrong things. The innocuous handballs in the box being one of them with defenders having to play with their arms behind their backs...it's all a bit silly.
Pep would go down as one of the best managers of all times but he has definitely played a big part in making football more mechanical. A lot of times it feels like a game of chess than free flowing football. I know a lot of people will hate me saying this but the current Liverpool side is very agressive and quite direct in terms of creating chances which makes their game more watchable that city's or Arsenal's games.
Shogun
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Yeah, the ideas of wingers has definitely changed but you could argue with players like Pienaar that it was happening years and year ago. It's not a particularly new phenomenon that wingers aren't legging it down the touchline anymore whilst the attacking advancement of fullbacks has been genuinely huge in modern football. Although that has probably diminished somewhat now that fullbacks are going into central midfield more often.
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