The NPL in Western Australia petered out this year, with clubs having voted not to have a Finals series, and the dominant Bayswater City wrapping up the title with several weeks of the season remaining. What was disappointing to see, and does not just happen in the NPL but at all levels of football, teams who cannot be relegated, and cannot win the League still playing not to lose. In many cases playing with only one striker.
One has to ask are these situations driven by coaches who are trying to make out that they know all about formations and tactics? It makes little or no sense. Sure coaches have to make the best use of the players they have recruited, but in most cases surely they have recruited the players with a style of play in mind and at this level attacking football should be the key.
Coaches who play this style of football at this level should be forced to have pinned on their dressing walls the famous quote by the great Danny Blanchflower. ” The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”
This is as true today as it was when Blanchflower said it back in the 1960’s. Sadly modern day coaching frequently tries to stamp out individual moments of brilliance, of improvisation, yet these are the moments of excitement that people remember, and why they keep coming back to the game. If this was not true why are the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neywar held in such high regard?
There is no doubt that a great deal of the flair, style and excitement has gone out of the modern game as tactics and formations have been over emphasised. So what can be done to re-invigorate the game.
Rugby Union opted to bring in a bonus point system based on the number of tries a team scores in order to encourage teams to be more attacking and not to always kick for goal, and three points. Hockey India has just announced that a goal scored from open play, a field goal will now be worth two points at the Hockey India League in 2016, this is to encourage teams not to rely purely on Penalty Corner goals; The top scorer in all three editions of the HIL so far has been a penalty corner specialist.
So should football look to reward attacking teams? Should teams that win by two goals or more receive a bonus point? This may well stop a side sitting back and trying to defend a 1-0 lead. In fact the bonus points could change the outcome of the League. Is that a good thing, that an attacking team is rewarded in such a way?
Maybe you could even have two bonus points awarded for teams who win by more than five goals. Then if a team is on top, and although the game is won at 4-0 they will still press on to find more goals to ensure the extra bonus point.
It may not be that the opposition are dying of boredom, but certainly many of the spectators are at the present time, and that is reflected in the poor attendances. So is such an idea so preposterous? If it makes the game more entertaining and helps bring spectators back then maybe it is worth considering.
It will also benefit the game as attacking will be given more emphasis, but equally defending will become even more important.