| Tavita |
TOMORROW, it’s Man U versus Everton. The ultimate test so far of the Red Devils efforts to resurrect their season.
According to recent reports by the experts, however, Louis van Gaal still has a basic problem.
I quote a recent expert who recently quoted him as saying that Manchester United’s worst ever start to the Premier League is because the squad are struggling to get to grips with his ideas.
Football, he suggests, is far more than set pieces, zonal defences, 4-2-4’s and 6-4-0’s.
Fans may have some difficulty with this concept but history backs him up.
Football survives on ideas.
This was the start of it all, 2000 years ago in the Emperor’s dressing room at the back of the Han Dynasty training ground.
“I’ve got an idea,” said up-and-coming left winger Li Yu and he wrote it down in a poem that has inspired generations of football watchers.
“A round ball and an oblong space with two teams standing opposed. The ball flies across the moon at the full.”
“Tsu must kick,” he urged. “Chu is stuffed leather ball!”
“Dumb idea!” the manager commented and transferred Li Yu on permanent loan to Inner Mongolia Wanderers.
“A bad idea!” the Emperor ruled. Then he executed the manager and signed Li Yu as Director of Great Ideas.
Then he executed him at the end of the season for coming up with far too many great ideas and founded the notorious line of football owners known as the Roman Abramovich Dynasty. They became famed throughout the Director’s Boxes of the World for executing managers at the end of every season.
Li Yu’s great idea, however, remained forever.
His family fled to Holland and founded the Amsterdam Daily Football News famed throughout the Football Cosmos for writing expert poems about Great Ideas.
And so the game moved through the centuries.
One Great Idea after the next, each one adding to the precious legacy we watchers have inherited and which we worship every Saturday night on our sacred sofas, respectfully clicking our blessed remotes.
The next Great Idea arrived in the late middle ages. There were lots of Mongol Invasions and Great Plagues going around at the time. Football attendances were getting critically low.
The basic ball was blamed.
This consisted back then of an inflated pig’s bladder or, when the Mongols were threatening to deflate all local pigs, players tried an abandoned hog’s head.
Faced with a diminishing breed of bladderless pigs and a severe shortage of hogs’ heads, the game appeared to be in peril.
It was in need of a Great Idea again.
This was supplied by an editorial in the Amsterdam Daily Football News which suggested that the laws of football should be changed so that the ball become spherical with a circumference of 27 to 28 inches, a weight of no less than 396 grams and be made of plastic.
The idea was dismissed at the time as ridiculous but by 1872 someone had invented plastic.
“Now’s the time,” the Amsterdam Daily Football News suggested.
“A Great Idea!” said everyone else.
And football moved on.
The game reached another crisis point in the 1860’s.
Even though the Great Plagues had been thoroughly deplagiarised and the Mongols decisively unmongled, the Imperial Forces of the English Public Schools had taken over all known football territory and regarded it as crucial for the maintenance of the Spirit of the Empire
Top of the premiership were Blackheath Proprietory School.
The staff and pupils all declared that the whole point of football was hacking.
“Eliminate this,” they insisted, “and the Empire will fall.”
They pointed out that the most important thing about the game was the hacking skills it passed on to future generations in dealing with any recurrent plagues and mongols, known colloquially in those days as “natives”.
Hacking, they maintained, was indispensible to the enjoyment of the game and any criticism of the practice was utterly barbaric.
This is when the Amsterdam Daily Football News stepped in again.
“Shinguards need to be invented,” a columnist suggested.
“A Great Idea,” said everyone else.
“Despicable!” the imperial opponents proclaimed in very high dudgeon..
So, they decided to go and play rugby instead and football moved ever onwards.
Louis Van Gaal is absolutely right. It is only through great ideas that football progresses.
As will be seen by the examples above, however, it is not an easy process. It takes time.
So, it’s good to see that Louis is well aware of this and has conceded that he may have pushed his players too far, too soon.
Tomorrow, I hear, he’s taking a whole new approach.
“Let’s beat Everton,” he’s suggested.
“A Great Idea!” the fans all agree.