How's it going?
In the wake of my whining about Bob and Co. after Saturday's narrow 1-0 win in Cuba, an excellent set of reactions to my reaction found its way into the FBF mailbag. You can read the full text of Mr. Anonymous' commentary here, but I'm going to break out my reaction to his reaction to my reaction (dizzy yet?) in this separate post, generously aided by a lack of quality sleep and some major nasal congestion. So, without further danger to my "reaction" membrane, let's hit a few points. And please pardon any nonsensical ramblings . . . You have been warned!
(1) "His target forward situation is a conundrum."
So? Why not just ditch the concept altogether? There's really no natural successor to McHead? So what? We've got the talent to keep the ball on the ground now and exploit the gaps--do we really need to resort to the style of pump and dump that got us the result in Cuba? I know, I know--the field conditions are often terrible in CONCACAF. Sadly, modern footballers (and not just the American ones!) are specialist technical athletes expecting a lush, perfect carpet to roll the ball around on rather than adaptable, thinking creatures with the requisite control needed to master a variety of surfaces and playing conditions--you know, players of the game on whatever godforsaken shore it may wash up upon, playing for love of sport and not just when the game is dropped into a massively expensive stadium surrounded by vulture-like cameras and agents in expensive suits bucking for an extra ten grand a week for their "clients."
That rant aside, I guess I can accept that playing a direct style on cruddy pitches is the way to go--given the tools we have to work with--so we need the big man in the arsenal. Great--Chinger, Casey, or heck, even Dempsey, should do in a pinch. Sadly, I'm afraid that even when we get the decent surface we need to play a high-tempo, possession game that emphasizes speed and creativity, we're still going to be lumping things to a Cro-Magnon forward. Now, if we come out buzzing and passing and creating in bucketloads on Wednesday, I'll apologize in full. But somehow, I don't think that I'll have to.
(2) "I get the Bradley critique but I'm not down on him yet."
I've got nothing against Bob per se. He's certainly a quality coach from an MLS perspective, and seems to be rational, well-prepared, and gets results. My problem is that while the club game is necessarily all about the cash that comes from getting results, I'd like to think that (1) the international game might be held to a higher standard, and (2) getting results doesn't need to involve sacrificing attractive play, particularly in a region where the competition doesn't quite live up to the appellation all the time.
This might seem a bit esoteric, but I don't think that Bob grasps the artistry of the game. He understands the numbers--the formations, the statistics, fitness levels--but while he may well recognize the "art of soccer", I'm not sure he has a clue how to go about implementing and inspiring it. Not that it's such a common skill these days. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the ability is fading from the modern game as it grows into bigger and supposedly better business models.
With that in mind, am I asking for the impossible? Most likely, yes, I suppose that I am. In most other aspects of life, I'm terribly pragmatic. When it comes to soccer, I want a change-- I want a bit of fantasy and some "come out of my seat shouting" moments of inspiration. Those are not the sort of things I expect to see when Skeletor is perched on the bench, seemingly trying to force his skull out through his forehead. And those are not the sort of things that will happen if he continues to bring in the same old warhorses time and again. How about a little variety? How about a little fantasy?
(3) Cooper is just weird. The guy seems to be perfect for Bradley's style of play but Bradley has been pretty dismissive of him up to this point.
Oh, I've got this one just about figured out. See, if you watch FC Dallas highlights, what do you see out of Cooper? Shots. Lots of 'em. From all angles and all distances. The kid likes to whack the ball at the net, particularly from outside the 18, even when the percentages don't favor the shot. That's not Bob-ball. That's a bit of daring, not percentages and "safe" possession.
Still with me? Sorry about that. I had intended a more rational response, but things got away from me a bit, and I let them run free. I have to say that I'm not terribly disappointed with the results either.
Look, I know that Bob is doing the best he can with the situation. He'll probably get all the right results too. And that's all fine and dandy, but still . . . But still I want a little entertainment beyond the inescapable drama of the "will they, won't they?" qualifying dance. Isn't that what we watch the game for: to be entertained, to be transported beyond the realm of the ordinary? If it's all about results and efficiency and numbers and spreadsheets, then I'm afraid we're drifting into the nebulous land of "work", not the shimmering green fields of "play."
Screw work. I want to play.