Practice Reporting Season 2010/2011
Since many things and statements were only ever made in very general terms, so that the reader is only ever asked where and when he heard these phrases, how these phrases are used or whether there is anything at all congruent with his own experience, a few concrete, overheard comments, assessments or interviews, whatever, are to be recorded here. Of course, no claim is made to completeness, nor is it possible to achieve complete authenticity in the sense of quotations in all cases. Nevertheless, the tendency is more than clear. In cases where the tone of voice has a meaning, this will not always be perfectly recognisable in the written word, so there may be a separate reference to it. How “acoustic” it becomes of this, let one judge for oneself.
1) A typical comment
“Oh, in the middle, Ibisevic completely free…. That’s too awkward, that’s just bad.” (picked up at Hoffenheim against Schalke, 3, matchday 1. BL 2010/2011, end 2:0). A very typical commentary sequence. First, the reporter recognises that a player is standing free. This is indeed a rarity in today’s top football, but has by no means become less desirable. The fact is that in the past it was more common to find such a player, plus there was occasionally the accompanying realisation that “the player was wonderfully played free.” This is a downright art, since defensive thinking has taken hold everywhere and the tactical requirements almost never allow a superior number to arise in attacking situations. But if it does happen once, it is the case that the (neutral) spectator would like to see. There is nothing to object to yet, but woe betide if….
The fact that he is supposedly “completely free” – of course it’s only a hundredth of a second, but nevertheless the gap was there – already sounds like a defensive failure, so the error analysis is already initiated, you can already hear it coming, if the attack should result in a goal, when he, patting himself on the back afterwards, says at the replay: “Look, here he is completely blank. No, what’s wrong with the defence? Everybody was asleep.” However, the ball did not reach him. Whatever the speaker may have dreamt up – in the event that it happens, the verdict is already in and the sleepy defence is to blame – did not happen. The attacker did not play the ball directly into the gap that was free for a split second – questionable even if it existed — but stopped the ball briefly and looked for a better way, a feasible way, the defence was on the spot. Of course, the whole scenario is no exception, because what attack ever brings a goal? Here, no goal came of it. Now he has an equally good opportunity to find someone stupid, someone to blame, who is picked on mercilessly: “It’s too awkward, it’s just bad.”
First, a brief classification is made by picking out the awkwardness (there is an extra chapter on the nonsense of the prefix “too”), but actually it is no longer worth differentiating. Bad is just bad. Simply bad. That’s how the attack was.
How one feels as a speaker afterwards is clear. “I am the greatest.” But one would have achieved the same result in all cases and with all outcomes. The bad-mouthing serves one purpose: to make oneself look better.
It certainly doesn’t do justice to the player, not to football, not to the game situation in which you would like to see him do it yourself 10,000 times in a row and he wouldn’t get the ball there once the way he apparently dreamed of. But what he does to the TV viewer at that moment, to whom he would like to credibly assure that “just bad” is being played here, but that one should definitely watch these chains of errors, is surely the last thing on his mind. “Bad is bad. And if it is, it has to be said.” Well, in his case one could perhaps simply blame a lack of understanding, which in itself is nothing to reproach him for. But who is letting him talk such nonsense? And who actually thinks about whether the viewer feels well informed and well entertained?
2) What a nice neologism
“They don’t have him on the clock”. An attacker moves into the penalty area, actually gets to the precise cross and sinks it. Yes, the only thing that is remarkable about this scene is this: “They don’t have it on the clock”. Is that supposed to be funny? Because of the clock? A comparison that doesn’t evoke any associations? The flippancy of the statement, I suppose that’s what makes the joke? “Not on the clock” Yes, really funny, the boy, you only notice when you let it melt on your tongue again and again. That’s exactly how it was. There’s nothing to cheer about here. So that you, dear spectator, don’t get out of your chair.
3) HSV – Schalke
“Matip doesn’t look so good again, but the whole defence is asleep.” (HSV scores the 2:1 in the game against Schalke in the 83rd minute, for example; a great goal in which Ze Roberto breaks through on the outside left, plays the ball well-considered and cool to van Niestelrooy, who indicates with a short kick and reaches one step before the defender, puts it into the goal with perfect technique). Yes, if that’s all the “analysis” that’s left after a goal like that, then I wish the announcer had his own channel where he could make his arguments for the deaf and dumb. This is so unbelievably sad, bad, stupid, wrong, inappropriate that one really has no words for it. Stupidity needs a boost.
Apparently there was a brief effort to “explain” the goal by means of individual criticism, but this was deemed too strenuous, so the club was simply brought out and “the whole defence is sleeping” was made out of it. Yes, that’s how it was. Perfect analysis, perfect conveyance of tension and drama.
By the way, it’s important to remember that it starts with “Matip doesn’t look so good again. After all, Schalke lost. That explains everything. And he recognised everything.
4) Manchester United – West Ham
“They do that quite well at times, how they keep the ball in the opponent’s half for a while. ManU then pull back, let them do a bit, but then as soon as the back pass comes, of course they’re attacked again.” Picked up in the match Manchester United – West Ham United, English Premier League, Matchday 3, 2010/2011 on 28.8.2010 at the 37th minute with the score 1:0 for ManU).
What is he trying to tell us now? The “in phases” is so bland and nonsensical, because it is supposed to be a generalisation, a game plan or whatever it would be, but this happens in the 37th minute, at a time when there is absolutely no room for such a thing. West Ham are behind and of course somehow try to get something forward. Are they never allowed to have the ball because the opponent is ManU? Well, when you have the ball, first of all, it’s an art to hold on to it. The other is to gain space in the process. In modern football, practically all teams retreat as soon as the opponent has possession of the ball. When you are in the lead, this means will certainly not be less prevalent. When you gradually gain space, then the third, decisive art comes into play: how do you score a goal? In a game like this, it wouldn’t be a sensation if West Ham managed it, but the probability is somewhere around 50% that they will score a single goal at all, in the entire game. So it would be quite a surprise that this would happen in the attack just “commented on”. In summary, only one expression fits: boring blah-blah. Wrong, to boot.
The scene went like this: West Ham made certain progress in terms of forward movement, actually claiming the ball for a certain period of time – well, you test how long it would take you to recite that sentence, approximately – but got no further forward, so one player decided to back-pass into his own half – incidentally, even this sort of thing is far from unusual these days; possession takes precedence over frantic actionism with vague chances of success — which, incidentally, can even be effective when the spaces get tighter. For please take into account that in bringing the ball forward slowly before, more and more opposing players were actually pushed backwards, so that the player being played to, even if hanging back, could find a lot of space. It so happened, by the way, that this attack, of all things, resulted in quite a good scoring chance due to the very patient delivery and skill of the executors.
The commentator’s talk, which tried in generalities to explain an attack in progress, is as meaty as a balloon. Pffffffft. It is not designed to be exciting, that anyway. It’s a pointless analysis, with no aim and no basis. It’s basically “blah blah blah” followed by “yawn”. But this “yawn” is made by the viewer. You feel so clearly that here a man has no idea whatsoever about football and he doesn’t enjoy it either. He has taken on a job that he has to do more badly than well. “25 minutes through”. A popular comment. Like students counting down the minutes at the hated Latin lesson. But that he has to spread his boredom about such a dull event of all things? Who lets him? Well, since no one is listening, it is in itself indifferent. But maybe someone would, if you…?
5) Fortuna Düsseldorf after their sixth defeat in a row to start the 2010/2011 season
Yes, Fortuna Düsseldorf, who had arrived so brilliantly in League 2 in the previous season, and who had even been allowed to represent Germany in Europe several times in the 1980s, losing 4-3 after extra time to FC Barcelona in a legendary Cup Winners’ Cup final, but who later had to play in a lower division for quite a while, had made an impressive comeback, and at times even more than the (ungrateful) 4th place seemed possible, which is an outstanding result for a promoted team. Coach Norbert Meier had done a good job and Wolf Werner, as sporting director, had also spoken out early on in favour of continuity.
Well, in many ways it is not unusual that the team had a messed-up start to the season: after five games, still not a single point on the account, although neither coach nor players changed, let alone the audience. It is not surprising, since such series can and do happen to any team. It is, of course, conspicuous, really conspicuous, at the beginning of the season. If, for example, you always kept a table – just for fun – of the last five matchdays, you would often experience enough surprises in this sense (it happens now and then to show a desired effect, but not regularly, permanently and also not limited to exactly five matchdays).
Well, sure, nobody is quite satisfied at Fortuna, nobody can be satisfied and this is not being feigned. However, one has to ask whether the slightly tortured smiles on the faces of those in charge are so easy to observe because they already know what stupid questions they are about to be asked (it would be nice to add here that the questions asked of the winners are no less stupid, but it is easier to bear).
Nevertheless, Monday night’s Fortuna Düsseldorf game was brilliantly attended. The fans have by no means forgotten that Fortuna had not lost 19 (?) home games in a row, nor that the team had carried them on the wave of success for so long. They are on board, they won’t let themselves be distracted so quickly. The opponents, VfL Bochum, relegated from the Bundesliga and almost neighbours, were of course just as attractive an opponent, and they brought quite a few of their own fans with them.
The game was passionately fought by both sides. A great second-division game, which, by the way, the announcer surprisingly not only recognised, but even thought it was worth mentioning! The better team was Fortuna. No one had any doubts about that, as all the interviews afterwards confirmed. Nevertheless, the result did not turn out in their favour: Final score a dull and so little corresponding to the course of the game – not only because of the tendency but also because of the meagre yield of one goal – 0:1. Bochum won through a goal by Chong Teese, which, however, did not please the announcer either, as he spoke of a catastrophic mistake by this one and another by that one. Well, his euphoric outburst of “a great game” makes you overlook even this unloved habit, especially as he (appropriately) downplayed the criticism more and more during further recorded replays – even after the game. Remarkably, there was this: The spectators gave their team a standing ovation after the final whistle. You don’t really need to see much more to judge the performance.
“Exciting” then were the following interviews, which of course were not conducted by the commentator (we are talking here about the pay channel Sky, not Sport 1, which also broadcast the match). First, Wolf Werner was “put through the wringer”. And he did so in the sense that he finally, finally, please, please, had to say just once that coach Norbert Meier would start to wobble if there were any more defeats, preferably today, of course. Because: in his opinion, there was probably nothing to say about the game?
Wolf Werner answered all of these questions with an equally negative answer and even kept smiling – which was quite an achievement under the circumstances, because he was certainly not the only one who felt like crying – and emphasised again and again that there would be no discussion about the coach. The questioner has now come up with an excellent list of questions. It looks like this: “What if he loses ONE more time?” (The “he”, by the way, is very important, it seems, because the person behind it is identified by the true connoisseur of the matter as the “weakest link” and is responsible. Remember: the team wins games, the coach loses them). He did not get away with it. He raised: “And if HE loses three more games? At some point they have to…?” Nix, Wolf Werner continued to smile and explained that the management had long since agreed that they wanted continuity and that Norbert Meier was the right man. Fortunately, the confident answer spared one the next question, which had already been “thought out” beforehand: “But after 8 more defeats, you would react, wouldn’t you?”
A true expert…
When he finally had Norbert Meier in front of the microphone – who fortunately “turned himself in”, a circumstance, however, that could only be omitted because of the impertinence of the questions, if it concerned anyone – the procedure started all over again. And here he had even better cards, because Norbert Meier could not simply say that the board had long since expressed its confidence in him (this, by the way, would inevitably be interpreted as an announcement of the sacking) and that he had the “licence to lose” in his pocket. No, he answered calmly and matter-of-factly – also admirable, as he too had more than a lump in his throat – and stressed that the team had played a great game today and that the results will come eventually if they keep playing like this. He is then interrupted by a nine times(so)wise man who asks in between: “And if the results still don’t come?”
Yes, yes, these are the coffin nails that are made, just like that, for no reason at all. With this game, one would have so many beautiful things to report, to question, to enlighten, to make exciting, even emotional, tragic. That’s the way it was, even if you don’t want to criticise the winner. What’s wrong with telling the truth once in a while? A great game by Fortuna with a more than unfortunate outcome. The fact that the fans bid farewell to the team with applause not only says it all, but is also capable of making you cry yourself, or at least sympathise. “Too bad, too bad, but for next week we really keep our fingers crossed for you and wish you luck, which was missing today. You and your team deserved that. Whether it helps, we don’t know. But all the best and toi toi toi!”
Would that make the TV sets turn off in heaps or what is the view of the broadcasters?
6) Bayern Munich’s performances against AS Roma, 1.FC Köln and TSG Hoffenheim, season opener 2010/2011
Bayern Munich made a “stuttering start” to the 2010/2011 season. Certainly. The team has hardly changed its face, Louis van Gaal has successfully implemented his ideas of football and assembled the right player material. The team is still capable of development, the mix of young and old is certainly fitting. Still, as is usually the case, the best team also has the most national players. And these have had another summer highlight, the World Cup in South Africa, in which just such a strong still young guild was very successful, with the consequence that they had to play seven games – up to the small final. A shortened preparation time is thus the logical consequence for the entire team. In this respect, those in charge, although not delighted, are nevertheless prepared for such a start.
Nevertheless, one can take a look at how the individual games actually went: The victory in the first game against Wolfsburg was vehemently forced, even if it was only secured in injury time. However, this game in particular has already been the subject of a misjudgement to a certain extent. There is a reason for this, but first things first: Bayern dominated the first half by a huge margin. The 1:0 score was not entirely satisfactory and also not quite in line with the conditions of the game, although one must of course still be satisfied with a lead, as it can also happen that the superiority is not reflected at all.
In the second half, Wolfsburg, certainly surprisingly, suddenly came into the game fantastically. There was a whole staccato of goal chances, five in total, the last of which was converted to make it 1-1. Sure, in Munich you are hardly used to something like that, so you shook a little or rubbed your eyes in amazement for those 20 minutes. But the fact that in retrospect there is talk of “scoring chances for three games” is essentially a psychological effect: people have the expectation that Bayern will have the chances, will have many chances (which also happened). At most, you expect a goal chance here or there for Wolfsburg, more as a chance product, but not played out like that. The fact that Bayern is played to the wall, even if only for a short period, the opponent dominates them and comes to a (perceived) chain of brilliant chances, gives the wrong impression, comparable to an optical illusion, that there were many more. If Bayern had such a phase (which they basically had in the first half with the same number of scoring chances, even without converting any of them), then it would be perceived as “normal”. If the game then ended 0:0, 0:1, 1:1 or 1:2, one would not even speak of an undeserved result. Expectations are responsible for that.
Bayern, however, immediately took command again afterwards. They were prepared to go to the limit. They had the unconditional will to win. And they were rewarded for it, albeit late. And to talk of “sleepiness” or other defensive errors, let alone the routinely used “that can’t happen now” when Schweinsteiger appeared at the far post and put the ball into the goal with technical perfection, has very little to do with reality. Especially as one should take into account here that this final phase of pressure from Bayern speaks for anything but physical deficits, which one would have expected due to the shortened preparation. They forced the victory. If one can speak of luck at all in this, then one can only mean the timing, which in itself is rarely distinguished. In terms of the share of the game and the goal-scoring chances, the victory was deserved.
The defeat in Kaiserslautern came about because the opponent, as a promoted team – and Bayern in itself always has the hardest programme of all teams, as everyone has the games of the year against them – went into the game completely undaunted and without any fear of losing. The fanatical crowd always creates a special atmosphere in Kaiserslautern, where Bayern have dropped quite a few points in much earlier years. Kaiserslautern played bravely forward whenever they had the ball and dared to do something. The double strike very early came from a Sunday shot and a dream combination. Of course, making up for a 0:2 deficit is not a matter of course, even for Bayern. Despite plenty of dominance, they failed to connect for a long time, so that at some point you lose faith.
The game against Werder Bremen was, according to all the opinions heard and read, simply a class game, which looked much more like a 3:3 than the eventual 0:0. This is well and truly recognised – of course Bayern had the majority of chances here too, but not to such an extent that you could call a draw undeserved; Werder’s performance was too good for that — but it is already forgotten the following week, especially when you get the chance to talk about “crisis”.
That this assessment remained mild was due to the fact that Wednesday was another Champions League match. AS Roma, runners-up in Italy, were the guests. Here now a great performance by Bayern, who of course have known the rhythm of three games in eight days for many decades. However, it is not a matter of course to put in such a performance. Because the opponent – and here the media opinion is exemplary, but based on the statements of those responsible – was played tired. Bayern dominated, which cannot be appreciated enough even against such calibre, and regularly came up with small to medium scoring chances, while the opponent almost never really got forward. A dream for a modern football game. Midway through the second half, the pressure became so intense that you just had the feeling it was about to ring. After 79 minutes, the time had come: a perfectly struck ball from Thomas Müller with the outside of his foot, followed by an unbelievable but nevertheless intended trajectory, sailed out of reach into the far corner of the goal. A dream goal from the high-flyer, who was not only credited with class characteristics, as you can see from such a scene. After that, the only real scoring chance for Roma – also nothing unusual to lose concentration for a moment shortly after a chest burster, although much less common at the highest level – but it was thwarted. The 2:0 shortly afterwards wrapped up the points.
The following weekend, 1.FC Köln were the guests. The Bavarians started like fire and you thought it was going to be a one-way street. Over 80% possession after 20 minutes! When the initial offensive did not bring the desired success, the game became a little quieter. Well, after all, there was a World Cup recently and a game on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the game was clearly dominated and goal chances were forced at regular intervals. This time there was no success, but the way Bayern pressed with all their might for the winning goal in injury time, threw everything forward and created three clear chances in those three extra minutes, that was exactly the class and also the giant strength of Bayern, to which so many opponents have fallen victim (see Wolfsburg). It was not a physical problem – on the contrary – and not a mental problem either. Victory was imminent – Mondragon held the first shot and when the rebound again fell on Müller’s head, you thought it was now done, but the Cologne keeper was cat-footed back to his feet and threw himself into the other corner to prevent the goal he thought was safe.
The fact that the miser of Sprecher didn’t notice any of this – Sky Conference – but several times in injury time let fall a derogatory “Nä” about Bayern and the missed chances, expresses once again everything about the catastrophic reporting. Behind him a house collapses and he watches butterflies on the other side, but complains about their unexpected flight behaviour?! Embarrassing, stupid, but still a habit that one can only bear for such moments because one wants to put it down on paper and wake someone up – apparently, however, it becomes a rather large pile of paper and the sleep of those responsible is reminiscent of that of Sleeping Beauty.
Only that wasn’t even the point here. The sports magazine “kicker” ran the headline “Dominance needs consistency” on Monday. A great mnemonic. They didn’t hear the shot either, but they didn’t see it either, it seems. This one needs that one. Against Wolfsburg, victory was forced late. Against Roma, the victory was forced just as late and the behaviour was explicitly interpreted as “clever” because the opponent was successfully “played tired”. The same thing was about to happen against Cologne. Only one might say: “Well, it can’t always work out.”
See the following game in Hoffenheim, of which the kicker could not have known anything when the pressure was put on. Or should we say that the Kicker successfully assisted Bayern? Because the game in Hoffenheim went like this: Hoffenheim, having started with three great wins, at the same time as Bayern’s 0:0 against Cologne they came to a hard-fought 2:2 in Kaiserslautern (yes, there where Bayern lost 0:2), so that they greeted from the top of the table. So it was certainly not an easy task and you could hardly speak of Bayern being favourites, which was of course also expressed by the betting market with its odds. Hoffenheim played just as cheeky and carefree, of course equipped with the appropriate class, as the games before and pressed Bayern in the back in the first half, of course spurred on by a very early goal.
Bayern gradually got into the game. In the second half, they took command and eventually equalised. Now, any other team would have settled for that, playing at the top of the table and having been behind before. Bayern, however, are Bayern, and mia not mia, and pressed for the winning goal. They increasingly locked up their opponents and it would not be doing justice to call the goal they scored in injury time (!) a lucky one – or rather the resulting victory.
The fact that a completely dumb announcer once again failed to notice is the same bad old habit. He insinuated that Hoffenheim, during Bayern’s entire phase of pressure, i.e. in the last 10 minutes or so, when they simply couldn’t get out of the back, were allegedly “taking the game too calmly”, would “be satisfied with the 1:1” and “lacked relief up front, because they didn’t do anything there anymore”. None of this is true. They fought desperately – but in the end unsuccessfully – against the threat of defeat. That was what you could easily see with a bit of attention, fun and interest in football. Well, perhaps one should add one more prerequisite: Football sense. Acquiring this is probably the biggest hurdle?
In any case, if you take all these games together, you can see that the Bavarians always appear dominant and bring plenty of opponents to their knees even late on? That’s football for you. Everyone does their best to defend themselves, preferably against Bayern. And even when all the men are ordered to their own goal line, resulting in a 0:0 in the end, they celebrate. This would not be the case against any other opponent, it would not even be allowed there.
So what was the point of the headline “Dominance needs consistency”? Particularly in a season that started with success far more than once?