Defending Webb and criticising the Dutch

Posted: July 12, 2010 in Football
Tags: , , , ,

Before we go into the finer details of the World Cup final, this was not football at its most beautiful. However, we saw a master-class in tactical play from both sides.

Those going into the match expecting to watch a game of stunning, free-flowing football were deluded in their hopes. World Cup finals never are, due to the amount at stake. They are always cagey affairs, with players afraid to make mistakes.

The Dutch weren’t going to produce ‘Total Football’. They haven’t all tournament. Spain continued to play their ‘Tiki-Taki’ style of football, patiently waiting for an opening. Sometimes it was frustrating, as they tried to play too many passes, but in general it was absorbing.

This wasn’t football for the purists. It was football for the intellectuals. It was patient, it was tactical and it was clever. Kick and rush tactics saw England eliminated early in the tournament, so why would the World Champions-to-be attempt such vulgar tactics?

However, the showpiece was spoilt by the tactics of the Dutch. I have no issues with a team going slightly defensive, especially against a team with the attacking capabilities of the Spanish. This, however, crossed the line. It was dirty.

As disappointing as it sometimes is to see the Spanish feigning injury and waving imaginary cards at times, you still sympathised with the way they were brutalised at times.

We knew this team wasn’t about the Total Football of the Cruyff era, but the tactic of resorting to going out and kicking the Spanish had no place in football’s grandest spectacle. The image of Mark Van Bommel snarling before the match had even kicked off was a sign of things to come, as the Netherlands side took it in turns to lunge at a Spanish shirt.

Van Bommel could have earned a red for numerous attacks on Spaniards, whilst Nigel De Jong must be thanking his lucky stars that he only received yellow for planting his studs in the top of Xabi Alonso’s ribcage.

No longer were Holland the plucky losers. Everyone around the world would’ve been happy to see the Dutch defeated this time round, as they failed to even attempt to play football.

Their post-match criticisms of Howard Webb and his team just beggar belief. Webb actually seemed to have a decent game in my eyes.

I personally am no fan of Webb, as he has upset my beloved Tottenham on a couple of occasions. SO try as I might to find fault with his performance, the only criticism I have is that Jonny Heitinga was the only man to leave proceedings early.

No complaints with that dismissal, mind. He received two righteous bookings for cynical play, which was unfortunately common place.

How De Jong felt he had right to criticise the officials is perplexing, considering he was given a reprieve for his piece of martial arts action.

So don’t blame Webb for what seemed a lack of control. Blame the Dutch for employing tactics that never intended control to exist. Spain emerged worthy winners, due to playing with patience and dignity.

  1. Defending Webb and criticising the Dutch…

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