It’s a matter of fact, not opinion, that there is a right way and a wrong way to play football. The right way is attacking, flowing football. The wrong way is the winning at all costs approach. The approach that inspired catenaccio and fouling Pele out of the 1966 World Cup. Recently the media has been discussing the rights and wrongs of the current Wolves squad and whether they are downright dirty or merely physical, whether they are going out to deliberately hurt or remove players from play. That is fairly well trodden territory by now. Whatever answer one prefers, the long term debate to be had is how McCarthy evolves this side.
Feel free to insert your own line about how Karl Henry “Isn’t that type of player” with regards to the tackle which broke Zamora’s leg. Personally I regard it as without intent and football is still a physical contest where you earn your right to play. If teams want to go rough they must pay the penalties of cards, fines, bans etc. However as Stoke and Wolves are proving going in hard is a strategy that can benefit. Stoke are already a safe feature of the Premiership and Wolves are more than well enough equipped to survive the dangerous second season. The teams coming up from the Championship seemingly have the choice, get tough or die. Those who tried to actually play pleasing, open football such as West Brom under Mowbray just get mown down at the top level.
It is forgivable for teams to want to impose themselves physically onto a contest in order to try and compete with the big boys. I don’t believe that McCarthy and Pulis send players out to hurt others. It’s a physicality born of necessity. But although I respect and admire the job that Pulis has done at Stoke but I would always rather watch a side managed by Roberto Martinez or Owen Coyle, managers who believe in flair.
The Leeds side of Peter Lorimer or Rattin’s Argentina showed the benefits of the harder side of the game. The Netherlands didn’t exactly try for samba football against Spain . It can bring trophies and success (admittedly less so now with rule modifications and the tightening of refereeing standards) but to go back to the original point it is the wrong way to play football. Fans can be forgiven for wanting to turn up and get a win but it isn’t something to inspire. Not suggesting that Wolves turn into Barcelona overnight but bringing in players such as Wilshire for Bolton last year shows commitment to winning and winning with style.
Expecting newly promoted sides to come out and play football as Wenger demands is silly. They haven’t had the millions that comes with season after season of top flight football and they survival is all its about. But when a side has been playing in the Premiership for more than a few years, fans deserve to see a move away from Sam Allardyce style football.