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Is football about winning or about entertainment?

29 Sep 2005(Thu)

September 28 -- Most of the time, Arsene Wenger talks nothing but sense.

But his idea to change the points system to encourage teams to score more goals is way off the mark.

Arsene's plan is to give a team a bonus point if they win by three clear goals, for example 3-0 or 5-2.

This would encourage teams to keep attacking, even if they were leading 2-0, and provide more "entertainment" for the fans.

Do you like that idea?

I must admit I don't, and it seems a remarkably naive suggestion from the French professor.

It also leads to the question, is football about winning or about entertainment?

I remember, many years ago in the north-east of England, Sunderland were playing dull and no-risk football to try and grind out results to stay in the first division.

After one particularly dour affair, a member of the press asked the Sunderland manager, Alan Durban, if he thought his team should be providing more entertainment for the fans.

"If you want entertainment you should go to the circus," replied the manager. "I have to win football matches and keep my team in the first division."

That's a good point by Durban.

Fans support winners, and I don't think many Brazilians were disappointed after they beat Italy on penalties in the 1994 World Cup final, following a 0-0 draw.

With Dunga and Mauro Silva in the middle, this was not a particularly creative or entertaining Brazilian team, but they had a brilliant striker in Romario and the right man to feed him in Bebeto.

The Brazilians have always been associated with entertaining, attacking, instinctive football, but on this occasion they knew they had to be more pragmatic, more organised, more European, to end a World Cup trophy drought stretching back to the glory days of 1970.

The problem at the moment, for Arsenal and the rest of the Premier League, is that Chelsea are winning all the time...but only just. They have an astute coach in Jose Mourinho, who knows when to attack and when to shut up shop.

For the majority of coaches, I'm sure the perfect result is a 1-0 win. Tight defence, scoring the crucial goal, and then closing out the match. At times it might not be pretty, but the winning team's fans will not complain.

And football is about winning, not about entertaining, although it would be nice to do both, like Brazil...in 1970.


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