I’ve only played soccer competitively when I was 10-12 yrs old. Gave it up when I went to secondary school. It seems the sport isn’t what it used to be nowadays with the extensive media attention it gets. I understand the business model of the game more than the passion for it. The cash flow, the buying and loaning of players, the sponsorships, on/off line gaming, the manager’s role, the influence of the owner’s behavoiral patterns towards the clubs they own etc etc…
Spoke to a friend not too long ago to get some additional insight. Apart from my friend’s name, the rest of the dialog remains unedited.
11:31 AM me: bro
want to ask u something abt football
11:31 AM Football Friend: Ok.
11:32 AM me: how do u appreciate the game?
11:32 AM Football Friend: Wow, nobody’s ever asked me that. It’s like asking me how to appreciate sex.
11:33 AM Football’s all about raw passion, especially English football.
11:34 AM me: what am i suppose to look out for?
i may appreciate the biz side (money movement) of the game more than the game itself.
but what abt the game in itself?
Football Friend: Meaning gambling?
11:35 AM me: EVERYTHING – revenue streams, buying of players, merchandizing, gaming, sponsorships etc etc.
Football Friend: Hmmm… that’s part of football but not the main thing if you are a sports fan.
11:37 AM If you’re a sports fan then first you need to know why football came about – a poor man’s way of entertainment, and for the fans it was a day off to cheer themselves up during the late 1800s where life was very miserable.
me: i play futsal – average player – can defend, pass, dribble and shoot – averagely.
11:38 AM but i dont see why must be so gila.
Football Friend: So football was for the working class, cricket, horse races and tea were for the elites.
Football Friend: Then came the clubs.
11:39 AM The clubs were about identity and competition, not money-making. Footballers were paid nuts or nothing even in the early days.
11:40 AM So people could identify with their local heroes whom they were friends or relatives with in the early days. They’d go and watch them play.
Football Friend: Next is the game of football. Man is made to use his hands, not his feet for dextrous activities. Football reverses that.
11:41 AM So you also look at skill. In this manner football is a lot more difficult than say basketball or tennis as you use your hands which are a lot more dextrous and flexible.
11:42 AM Football Friend: Through the years the competition turned to rivalry as more and more was at stake and as money poured into the game.
11:43 AM Playing (for leisure) and watching (following) football are two very different things. They both give you a different feeling.
me: i spose i agree with that.
Football Friend: Watching can be like watching your stocks in the market, you want them to go up but it doesn’t always do so because of other factors.
11:45 AM Same in football. Stadiums, rivalry, player’s skills, manager’s skills, tactics and formations, how passionate the fans are etc. make the game interesting.
There’s also rivalry between managers and players, and also between fans.
Lastly it’s the draw, the fact that there’s a draw in football makes it one of the more unique games.
11:46 AM me: so what are we spose to look out for in skills of player, mgr?
tactics, formations etc…
Football Friend: Players who can score are usually the most popular, but different players score different goals.
11:47 AM Some are poachers (meaning they sniff around the goal mouth waiting for half or full chances).
Some are exceptionally skillful who can run at opposing players, run around them and score goals.
Some can score from a long distance out.
11:48 AM Some can score from dead balls (meaning the ball is not moving).
me: who r some of the examples of these players?
11:49 AM for each category.
Football Friend: Next you usually look at midfielders who are in between scorers (strikers) and defenders. They are in charge of trying to feed the ball to the stirker, and at the same time stop the opposing team’s midfielders from passing the ball to theirs.
11:50 AM me: ic
Football Friend: Defenders defend lor. The highly rated defenders are also superb footballers who don’t just clear the balls whenever they get the chance. They can also beat players and pass the ball very well to turn defense into attatck.
11:51 AM Formations and tactics are the most difficult to understand because there are many – it all depends on which other 11 opposing players are on the pitch playing.
11:52 AM So you always get individual battles going on during a game. The better managers are able to assess the weaknesses of the opposing players and try to use his own to either nullify or beat their respective opponents.
11:53 AM Then there’s style of play. Some clubs/managers prefer an all attacking type of play (Arsenal, Man United, Real Madrid).
Some clubs are very defensive (Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan).
11:54 AM Some clubs play on the counter attack, meaning they sit back and absorb attacks and when they gett the opportunity they are trained to attack very quickly to try to score a goal (LIverpool).
So how a team plays also makes a difference in how the opposing manager approaches the game.
11:55 AM me: ic
11:56 AM i guess it’s a weekly affair for most fans? btw, why do some fans still support teams that are at the bottom of the league (eg. msians)
11:57 AM they’re not the manu, liversool, chelsea types.
Football Friend: If the opposing team have very good midfielders then a manager sometimes opts to play 5 midfielders instead of 4, and only 1 stirker up front. Usually this means the ball stays in the middle of the park most of the time.
Passion ad loyalty lor.
11:58 AM In football it’s not looked upon too nicely if you only support clubs which are currently succesful and then you switch. Identity is very important.
So if you say you support United then sometime later support Chelsea it’s a no-no.
11:59 AM me: y not?
Football Friend: Win,lose or draw you shoulod stick with your team, that’s what a true fan is.
me: if the team sucks – bad manager, money mgmt dumb players or whatever reason, so u want to switch….
12:00 PM Football Friend: That’s the beauty of football, you’ve got a relationship with the club and the players and the managers.
For those who live in the source countries they will speak their minds when the team sucks – bad manager, money mgmt dumb players or whatever reason,
12:01 PM But you don’t switch clubs.
In fact in England, you are expected to support your home town club, and if there are a few you must choose one.
This is also another fascinating aspect of football.
12:02 PM When 2 clubs from the same area play each other it’s called a derby game.
They are usually very fierce because a family of 6 could be half supporting one and the other half supporting the other.
12:03 PM So at the stadium they sit at opposite ends.
So when they leave the house they are siblings, when they get to the stadium they are opposing fans.
12:04 PM Football Friend: There’s also the part of a 0-0 score which can be very exciting as it usually means neither team got the better of the other.
There are also matches where you can wait 90 minutes and your team scores 1 goal to win the game, or worse, the other team scores.
12:05 PM Nobody introduced me to football. After Whye Ling dumped me I had little to do (you folks were either busy or overseas) so I started to watching a lot of tv, which also included football.
12:06 PM When I started watching United were the best and they played very attractive football so I started to support them untilo now.
12:07 PM So if you want to really know what it’s like, then you must first choose a team you like (usually by the style of play, or because you like a certain player).
can i join in as a neutral. i support players, not teams.
12:08 PM Football Friend: Then you just follow all the results, player issues/problems/battles/attitudes, observe tactics, read news on how the manager is planning to play the next game, learn which players are injured or coming back (and what it means for the team) etc…
Then on match day you watch to see how the players he selects turn out. In football you are allowed to make 3 changes during the entire game.
So substitutes play a big part also.
12:09 PM me: ic
Football Friend: Oh, there are 2 types of competitions, cup competitions and league.
me: i see some games where they bench the good player till the end. why bench a good player till the last 5 mins?
12:10 PM Football Friend: Cups are usually one-off, meaning if you win you go to the next round, if you lose you wait until the next season (1 year) to try again. The FA CUp in England is the most famous cup competition in the world.
12:11 PM Then there’s the league where you play for points. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins the league.
Now there are 4 professional leagues and other semi-professional leagues in England.
Pro leagues mean the players only play football for a living.
12:12 PM Semi pro means the bloke could be a plumber ft and football player pt.
at least now, i’m getting more insight.
12:13 PM Football Friend: The top league is the premier league with 18 teams competing. The bottom 3 teams at the end of the season get relegated to the next league beneath them.
Conversely the team in League 1 promotes their top 3 to the Premier League.
12:14 PM This applies to all 4 of the pro leagues.
This offers fresh competition and also an incentive for teams to try to either remain in the top league to compete, or to try to get promoted.
12:15 PM This means you must be of a certain standard to play in a certain league.
The beauty of the FA Cup is that non-league sides can get drawn with a top league side like say United, which in their lifetime may only come once.
12:16 PM me: ok
Football Friend: It’s like Man United playing Subang USJ, and you have every chance to win.
12:17 PM Lastly, the top teams in Europe’s leagues get to play in a special competiton called the Champions League.
12:18 PM So there’s incentive to finish top of the top league in each European country.
me: but i see that in world cup, england sucks quite a bit compared to the other countries. overrated?
12:19 PM Football Friend: Yeah sometimes.
The best players in a country usually come from rival clubs, meanig the players may not even like each other.
Or worse, they are sworn enemies
12:20 PM So to give them minimum training time and expect them to play a team game is a real challenge.
me: i recall c ronaldo and rooney case.
Football Friend: This is why teams who are more patriotic and have more national unity have a better chance as each players really plays because they love their country.
12:21 PM In country vs. country games, the manager and his tactics are very crucial. In league games it’s the skill of the players which usually wins the game.
12:22 PM me: ic ok
12:23 PM i’ve watched a few games before, but i cant seem to figure out the mgr’s strategies most of the time. can you?
Football Friend: Takes time.
12:25 PM The key is to follow the same team, go to their website and others like Soccernet to find out more.
me: is soccernet the best site to get info?
Football Friend: You can get a better idea when you read pre and post match views from players and managers.
12:26 PM Soccernete, Goal.com, Espnstar are among the most popular.
Then of course there’s the club’s website,
If you support United I can tell you more!!!! LOL!!!!
12:27 PM if i support a team that gets relegated to another league, can i switch aalegiances?
12:28 PM Football Friend: That’s like asking if God doesn’t answer your prayer should you switch to Santa Clause.
NO!!!! A thousand times times NO!!!!
12:29 PM me: haha
coz i’m thinking, u wont get to read much abt them thereafter.
12:30 PM Football Friend: Not really.
The English league is the most exciting now as they have many great players and the style of play is very fast and furious – like a lion fighting with a cheetah.
12:31 PM The Italian league is like a swan fighting an albatross, very pretty, very slow and like ballerinas. Spanish is in between.
The most passion is in English football.
The most attractive football is playes usually by Arsenal, but they are lacking in defense.
12:32 PM United and Liverpool are good bets.
But if you support Liverpool you’re not my friend anymore ya hear?
12:33 PM me: 4-1 i heard
Football Friend: Yeah, very bad day at the office.
But it was a very exciting game, had everything they usually say (2 penalties, red card, bad tackles, tempers flaring, managers fuming etc.)
Anyhow, gotta run.
12:34 PM United and Liverpool have the most fans in Malaysia so you can’t go wrong with either (except losing friendships).
Gotta run for lunch. Chat later.
Football Friend: I’ll send you the United membership form later.
me: tks for the info mate!
12:35 PM Football Friend: Long as you don’t support “them”.
me: mbership – i’ll take it under advise and consideration.
Football Friend: Waste my time you…
12:36 PM After all that evangelising you won’t convert?
12:38 PM me: sue me.