Am I alone in thinking the art of defending disappearing from the game particularly in the Premier League? It would seem that defenders being replaced with “footballers” whose ability on the ball, and confidence to do step overs seems to have replaced those with a desire to keep clean sheets.
I watched Match of the Day on Saturday and in virtually every single game goals were conceded because so players did not do their defensive jobs. They allowed strikers to either drift off them, get free headers on goal, did not compete powerfully enough in the air, or simply did not mark their opponents.
And it lots of cases the defender would stand waving his hands about angrily which is football speak for “it wasn’t my fault” and is more for the fans benefit than anything else.
Of course at times goals result from using a zonal marking system that at some clubs replaced the tried and trusted man marking system where everyone knows his job and if the man you were marking scored a goal or was left unmarked then the finger was pointed at you. The idea of marking an area might seem ok in theory but in practice I am not so sure because no one has a responsibility for an opponent.
Shaun Teale, Kevan Broadhurst, John Wile, Alan Evans, Steve Bruce, Ken McNaught, Ally Robertson, Dean Richards, Martin Laursen, et al were all decent on the ball but their first priority was to try and keep a clean sheet and thereby provide a platform for the strikers to win the game.
However it is not just defenders but other members of the team who allow opponents to run off them into the area and score goals.
It is the same with goalkeepers where it seems the major strength must be how well they can distribute the ball with their kicking and that seems to be more important than other aspects of goalkeeping which is why lots of modern day keepers are not dominant when it comes to dealing with crosses and corners but can be brilliant shot stoppers.
Perhaps it is just the way the game is evolving with the emphasis on passing completion stats and possession which is all well and good but for me it starts with defending properly with desire and commitment to keep a clean sheet.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea won titles thanks in no small part to their magnificent defences. Adams, Keown, Dixon, Winterburn, Pallister, Huth, Terry, Stam, Bruce, and Irwin to name but a few.
Where are their like in the modern game although Terry still plays a diminishing part at Chelsea.
Like tackling defending is sadly a dying art