You could just as well call it “generalisations”. The point here, unlike with the phrases, is that the commentators are constantly looking for opportunities to summarise two or three match scenes and use them to try to explain the running game.
One example looks like this: A team attacks twice on the left. Then they like to say : “They keep coming down the left.” After two attacks, which are concluded with distance shots, one learns: “They try more to succeed with distance shots.”
As always, the question must be allowed as to what the speaker expects to gain from such an insight. Does he think it will really spice up his reportage? That it will make it more exciting? Is it about spreading wisdom? Does he want to pursue a career as a match observer and is advertising his own cause here? “I recognise so much in a football match, surely a club boss must recognise that at some point and hire me?” Well, on the other hand, of course, that would be a step down career-wise, given that he only recently turned down a coach + manager engagement for intergalactic league planet Vega – great as he is — but still: change of scenery, perhaps?
An important core sentence that can be causally responsible – it’s the same with other people, for example, when a friend tells you about a problem situation, about an illness, then you try the same thing: “Yes, I know that, I’ve had that too.” – is: pattern recognition. Since it corresponds to the facts, and one is actually very often in search of familiar patterns, it suggests itself here, no, it virtually imposes itself. You have just attacked from the left, now again: Aha, I’ve recognised it: They come from the left. Something like that, perhaps.
On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily suggest that you’re interested in audience enthusiasm. Apart from that, it is often not true enough, despite the well-meaning and recognised intention. Especially when, as for example in the Bundesliga opener of the 2010/2011 season with Mainz 05 – VfB Stuttgart – a belibeiges, but “actively” experienced and brought up example — in the Sky conference after 10 minutes it should be recognised and gets a negative coating: “Pretty leftist, the Mainz game.” After 10 minutes it would simply be nonsense to speak of that. Even if five attacks (that’s how many real ones you’re supposed to get together in that time span; not every possession results in an attack, enough takes place in midfield, without a direct approach to goal) had come through this side so far – pardon, Monsieur, if you were talking about defensive actions on this side, the Mainzers would hardly be responsible for the “left-heavy” — it would be far premature.
But the expression “left-heavy” certainly suggests some kind of deficiency. Later in the game, the same speaker referred to it (rather coincidentally) when he spoke of Mainz being “actually easy to count on because they keep coming over the left”. “Over the left” would be ok as a comment, a lot over the left too, if true. If the game is “left-heavy”, surely you immediately feel you have to do something about it to get rid of this annoying load? And “predictable” is in any case not an attribute that is generally associated with high quality. If the opponent were not even weaker and more stupid, he could use this “calculability” and, after mastering the simple calculation, put a stop to it: no more conceding goals.
Mainz won the game relatively easily with 2:0. But when the goals — soon after the first, through the middle, dream pass from Holtby to Allagui, the latter with a perfect finish into the far corner — were scored, it was the fault of the “inner defence, which is so highly praised in itself and nominally one of the strongest in the league”, and the same “repeatedly overtaxed” in the further course. Well, who should bother to recognise connections that have anything in common with what the coaches – and who, if not they, should be consulted for analysis? – said to their players in the dressing room and also in the subsequent press conference about the course of the game, could go away empty-handed: niente, nix da, nobody except the announcer observed it like that and considered it worth recording.
If someone did, it might have been the Mainz coach, who actually suggested trying more on the left. If this was the case, however, it would not have been a defect with the left side, but the implementation of a tactic. All this will probably remain hidden from the speaking gentleman for the rest of his life.
The constant search for generalisations may therefore offer certain clues in life, may also be behaviourally insightful and logical, since it is permanently about decision-making and one is in search of help in this regard. Those who would have to do it in a football match are the coaches and match observers. They have the task of recognising patterns and, if possible, using the insights gained to their advantage. Be it for the following match with regard to their own team or the observed opponent or be it during a match to make tactical adjustments if necessary, either to iron out one of their own deficiencies or to make use of one recognised in the opponent. Insofar as the speaker does it, it has no function except the usual one of self-promotion and — regrettably the most common and most chalked up – to kill, at least reduce, the tension. For as soon as one switches to “analysis mode” – and thus not only invites the spectator to do so as well but rather forces it on him – sober reflection and not emotional tension or enthusiasm takes hold. Which of these do you want more, as a viewer?
There are so many examples of this and somehow it seems to become second nature to the speakers. To the listener it is comparable to advertising – you hear the same thing over and over again and gradually, imperceptibly, you begin to buy the products without asking, the recognition effect – and you swallow it little by little. The speakers have basically made life easy for themselves with this “strategy” (without knowing about it). They constantly pray off standard phrases based on a few observed game scenes in which they think they recognise a pattern and the paint is done. The job is done, I have seen through the game, the rest is easy.
By the way, this is particularly noticeable in summaries. You think that by showing the audience the pattern, they will recognise it as well. The question of whether this is thought to increase the tension cannot be answered definitively here, of course, but even less so is the question of where the thinking actually takes place on the relevant floors. The assumption is: it doesn’t happen at all.
Only to the extent that it doesn’t happen, as one can readily check by following it and feeling it oneself. One cannot feel any tension when such series of generalities are prayed down to you one after the other. Fortunately, it’s over soon because it’s so short. And one really wanted to see the few beautiful goals.
By the way, it’s striking that the viewers can’t even defend themselves in this case. If there is a live commentary and one of the corresponding analyses is presented – “they keep trying it through the middle” – then the viewer could at least mentally resist remembering scenes of the game, apart from considering that not as a shortcoming but as a sign of quality. If he only gets to see a few scenes – summary – then the speaker can tell him everything. And he takes full advantage of that: “Look, a typical scene for the game: always only ball pushing, across and back, nothing forward on both sides. Apart from the fact that it is negative, the listener should simply accept it. “It was like this all the time.” “Oh, thank you, great master, for the enlightenment. But from next week, I’m not tuning in. I’m bored of it.”
There is nothing that can spoil the fun more. All differentiation is negated, declared non-existent. Suspense? Not a thing. Wasn’t there. Don’t wait for it either. “It always went according to the same pattern.” Also a popular phrase. “Pattern” – that of the knitting – recognised, made a noose out of it and hung myself from it. Well done, boy.
Two more, just caught: .Holtby was very sloppy with that chance.” “An unround game, a lot of hustle and bustle” (after 14 minutes).
Again, contrast a couple of alternative accounts and ask yourself which one would have the higher entertainment value: “Another great shot from distance.” Or “again from the left side of the attack, that looks dangerous…”.
In general, there is always this statement in the room: sober/objective/analytical is the German reporting. Even if the observations made were correct, they would still have a negative effect on the entertainment value. Regrettably, however, they are as a rule over-critical and, moreover, simply wrong. In this respect, this assessment is regrettably correct, as one says in a rather umgan and shirt-sleeved way: “smart-alecky” or something like that.
None of these demigods in colour succeeds in simply describing a scene. An assessment, even a judgement, is always added. There are several reasons for this. One example: the reporter would see his position endangered if he simply wrote a “super job, great shot, equally good save.” From his point of view, that would be tantamount to “hach, ist der Rasen schön grün”. A clueless dimwit who seems to take pleasure in EVERYTHING, but wouldn’t have the slightest clue about the actual action itself. A true professional MUST, and UNFORTUNATELY, put his finger in the wound, otherwise he loses his status. It does not matter, however, whether he is right and whether the audience enjoys it.
Another obvious reason: football is considered so gigantically big that EVERYONE, without exception, watches it anyway, no matter how much effort is made to scare them away. “It’s football today, I HAVE to watch it.”
But this assumption is mistaken. Very few people watch a game over 90 minutes, and probably only very special games. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a good entertainment value either way! In addition, nothing against any factual analysis at least getting to the heart of the matter and not being arbitrarily picked out of the air?
Another reason: Germany has won so many championships, international matches, cups, games (and/or has outscored the renowned competition in droves) that people here “simply know everything about football”, because otherwise these many victories and titles would never have come about in this way? We are the best, and you can see that in the reporting. Everyone here “hears the fleas coughing” and notices directly where the mistake lay, no matter at what point in an action you would interject this: “waits too long – he could have played long ago – the situation is almost missed – and then he’s in after all.” Did everything wrong, but scored a goal with it? Quite curious. But immediately afterwards you realise that the entire defence has been duped and looks like a bunch of chickens.