A recent quote from Hugo got me thinking about how players and fans see the game.
When asked by the Associated Press (via the Evening Standard) about whether we will win a trophy soon, our n0.1 had an interesting answer:
‘We want a trophy because I think we deserve a trophy. It’s just because we play so attractive football. I think people enjoy the way we play because we are a very positive team with a lot of energy. The way we play football is a bit risky but we create a lot of chances.’
It really does depend on your view, but some would scoff at the above comment. The more pragmatic would say football is about winning, the three points and the trophy at the end of the season. They`d say that Poch has spent nearly four years playing attractive football without anything to show for it, while a certain Mourinho has already won a League Cup and Europa League title in half that time.
However, the aesthetics are important for football fans as Hugo rightly points out. Out of the two fanbases, who do you think is happier, us or Manchester United`s? It`s clear that supporters can go without winning silverware, and still be happy with progress.
Even though we are getting closer, the near misses do rankle with me a bit. In this debate between pragmatism and aesthetical qualities, one side doesn`t necessarily win out over the other. Pep at City, and in the past with Bayern and Barca, has shown you can win things by playing the right way, while at the same time, a pragmatic approach doesn`t always win out, as Mourinho is finding out this season.
It doesn`t mean however we should stick to one way of playing no matter the circumstances. Especially in knockout tournaments, winning ugly is sometimes the only option. The two legs against Juve were an example where just a bit more pragmatism could have been rewarded with a win.
Most observers felt we would have deserved to go through because of our performances in both legs of the tie, and yet we didn`t prevail. I am not a conservative man by nature, but there were certain points in that second leg at Wembley where I`d wished we`d held back a bit more and kept things tighter. In those crucial moments, the purity of the game has to be sacrificed to get the result.
Getting over the line is something we`ve struggled with so far and being a bit more savvy at the right moments will be critical for changing that. Perhaps we will be rewarded for the attacking football we play like Hugo says, but my instincts say we won`t be unless we become smarter, and a bit more pragmatic. What do you think? Let me know in the poll.