GLF73: The Sideyways Pass

GLF73:Tommy feels there may be something sensible in the notion of passing the ball!

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The Sideyways Pass

 


If you have been watching Motherwell recently you will have noticed a most peculiar new tactic.Instead of blootering the ball as hard as possible in the vague direction of the opposition half, players have begun to gently kick (or as the purists would call it"pass") the ball to another player in claret and amber. Sometimes they have not passed it in the direction of the opposing goal. Sometimes, they even pass it backwards, in the direction of our goalkeeper.The first thought on receiving the ball is no longer a big punt to the centre forward.Even defenders have been passing the ball around!

 

For clarity's sake I will call this new tactic a "Sideyways Pass".Don't worry about recognising it.You will know it has just occurred when about ten people around you shout: GET IT OUT OF THERE! / STOP MESSING ABOUT! / YOU'RE GOING NOWHERE! / GET IT IN THE BOX!If a pass goes astray there will be a loud collective sigh.Some are so frustrated they will simply boo.I decided to investigate this strange tactic that infuriates some fans so much.

 


Apparently there are indeed ways of playing football that do not involve punting the ball up the park to a Jim Hamilton figure.From Barcelona to North London fans have been putting up with this kind of stuff for years.One Gunner I spoke to empathised with our predicament.He said he used to love watching his team defend hard, pump the ball up the pitch and win the game 1-0.Now it was all "tippy tappy" and trying to score the "perfect goal".

 


I watched Barcelona on TV once and they also seem to utilise the sideyways pass.A defender will pass to a defender.Who will pass it to another defender.Who will pass it to a midfielder.Who will do a wee shimmy thing and then pass it back to a defender.This may go on indefinitely, until an opening is seen and within four passes the ball is in the net.Even though they have a striker in Ibrahimovic who is, at least, as tall and as good as John Sutton; they play the ball on the deck (or as they say in Spain, el deck).

 


I'm not saying it's as bad as that, but Jim Gannon certainly wants to take us that way.As a proud Scotsman, this goes against everything I know.I grew up playing the game with the mantrassafety first and if in doubt, get it out ringing in my ears.Watching Motherwell and Scotland confirmed the way to play football involves simultaneously getting in the opposition faces and kicking the ball up the pitch.However is this the way it always has to be?

 


I have never been to Rio de Janeiro.But I'm pretty sure that under 14 football in Brasil has more sideyways passes than under 14 football in Lanarkshire.I also think more emphasis is put on playing the ball on the ground and developing skill and technique. Perhaps football fans over there berate defenders for lumping it away instead of finding a team-mate in space.Who knows. (I am happy to confirm these theories if anyone wants to fly me to Rio).

 


If there is a good reason why we can't pass the ball about, I don't know what it is.So what, if we lose an occasional goal in a season due to a misplaced pass.So what, if we play the ball sideyways then backtheways then sideyways then forward and sideyways then back.I don't care if this isn't done in the opposition box.Heck I don't even care if we pass it in defence.I just want to see Motherwell on the ball.


In the first season under McGhee and now with JG we have won plaudits for playing good football.Passing the ball is part of that.The next time you are tempted to shout at a Ross Forbes or Mark Reynolds for playing a sideyways pass remember the words of Brian Clough.

"If you have the ball and you are in their half, they cannot score."

 


Tommy Reilly


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