Does Size Matter?
Updated Sunday, 8th July 2007
The old adage that "a good big'un will always beat a good little'un" may hold inside the boxing ring but it seems that our manager believes that the same principle could apply in the SPL.
McGhee has made it clear from the start that he sees powerful athleticism as a fundamental characteristic of the players in the squad. No one would disagree that speed and agility are necessary qualities but is bulk needed too?
One of the joys of football is that a wide range of body types can find success on the park. Although rippling muscles often impress the terraces they contribute little to a player's ability to run for extended periods. Some of the best players could have been described as skinny - the revered Pettigrew and the magical Cruyff come to mind. But they had more than enough skill to avoid heavy challenges.
We are also familiar with shorter players who can display dribbling skills. Arnott and McDonald are examples where a low centre of gravity and stocky build assisted in successful styles of play. However, it has to be recognised that Pearson also displayed a skill when running at defenders with the ball at his feat and, at a much higher level, Rivaldo, with a similar slim build, also displays a huge talent at dribbling.
What of defence? The SPL has many defenders who are tall, solid and seem designed to act as stoppers. There's no arguing that first duty of the back four is to prevent the opposition from converting goal scoring opportunities but is that all that we expect?
If all that we can hope for is a league packed with big, beefy athletes, then the standard of football in the SPL will not improve. Of course we must be able to compete and we cannot allow other teams to beat us only by virtue of their physical presence but we must allow skill to develop and flourish. That's entertainment.