Long gone are the days of 4-4-2, long balls and ping-pong football at the very top level. You can thank Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City for killing it in the Premier League at least, with every team now desperate to be seen as total football masters.
There are a few sides who still dazzle with their own unique identity, but ultimately every team is desperate to climb the mountain with a progressive style of play which consists of a mind-numbing about of passes and suffocating not just the opponent, but everybody watching the game as well.
Winning games just isn’t enough these days. You have to win sexy. The problem is, that’s a very subjective thing.
Sure, passing the ball around in tight little triangles and eventually cutting through the pitch is cool at times, but is it sexy? Doubtful. Certainly not as sexy as watching a midfielder drop between his centre-halves and launching one up to the big man and creating some chaos in the box.
Definitely not as sexy as giving it to the tricky winger, letting them put on the afterburners and lashing one across goal from the touchline.
In short, this whole tiki-taka thing is an epidemic. It’s plaguing the game. Without sounding too Sam Allardyce and reaching a point of no return where we begin to question AI and social media, a team has to know their limits and play to its strengths.
Do you wake up on a Sunday morning and peel yourself out of bed hungover from the night before, purely to pass the ball sideways for an hour and ‘break down’ the opposition? No chance. And if you do, you’re doing Sunday league wrong.
Many will praise teams for trying to ‘play the right way’ but we’re putting an end to that now. For all that is good and whole in the game – which isn’t much these days – teams must vary their styles of play and stop with this silly total football experiment.
Why? Here’s why.
Pep Guardiola, watch your back. Tiki-taka at its finest.pic.twitter.com/U5MIUjrieB
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) August 21, 2023
Hope you’re proud, Pep. Look at what you’ve done. Hope you’re happy.
Absolute carnage. Pure, unbridled tiki-taka-inspired carnage. We know it’s ‘high risk, high reward’ stuff, but come on lads. Do the basics. Clear the lines.
For some context, this happened over in the Ukrainian Premier League. You’ll need more context than that, though, as it’s impossible to tell which team is actually trying to score.
Veres Rivne, in red, are the attacking side, and Vorskla are the team in white who make a mess of their total football approach.
Upon receiving the ball back off his defender in the middle of the goal, the Vorskla goalkeeper looks like he’s just had a ticking timebomb laid into him, the way he dances around the ball and smashes it into his teammate ahead – never on for it, by the way – with a ferocious panic.
From there, it inevitably devolves into complete chaos, akin to when Manchester United were picked apart by Brentford in their 4-0 thrashing.
The ball hilariously pinballs around the area, every player suddenly developing the first touch and weight of pass of Mr Blobby, with the defender who started the move eventually getting it fired back to him.
At this point, he’s had enough. Just trying to settle the ball, clear his lines and get it as far away from goal as possible, he ends up chasing what is a 50-50 with his goalkeeper which neither of them win, allowing an opposition attacker to slide in and poke a loose ball into the empty net.
Complete mayhem is an understatement.
If only we could be flies on the wall of the video analysts watching that one back. It’s so laughably bad that it’s brilliant.
If all tiki-taka looked more like this and less like Guardiola’s City suffocating teams to no end and sweeping up trophies, we’d be all for it. Maybe we were wrong after all.
By Mitch Wilks