Catching the bus as opponents try to park the bus!
It can be one of the most boring and frustrating games to watch; the one where one team wants to win and the other team doesn’t want to lose.
Playing for a draw from the start of a football game is an attitude that has developed more and more in recent years. It’s a great strategy for teams lacking the ability to compete with more skilful opponents because, as I’ve said before, it often works.
Tottenham supporters are well aware of how difficult it is to break some teams down because we’ve seen it happening on the park. We tend to focus on our own ‘poor’ results and blame our team for not winning rather than giving credit to the opponents for their successful rearguard action. It does make you wonder about the understanding some supporters have of modern day football and who fail to think beyond the desire to win.
It’s not just Spurs that ‘sometimes’ fall victims to this strategy. All of the top clubs experience how difficult it is to overcome ‘bus-parkers’ during the course of the season. To a lesser extent this season even City players have been stopped in their tracks by it.
Every top six team has played games where they have had 20+ more shots on goal than their opponents whilst enjoying 70% retention of the ball only to end up with a point, or nothing at all.
Given that Spurs will finish the season above Chelsea, Arsenal, possibly Liverpool, and not far behind United, it could even be argued that we handle the problem better than most …. even though it does not seem that way!
The Premier League boasts some of the most knowledgeable and experienced managers in the game and yet, more often than they perhaps should, they all fall victims to this strategy. This illustrates how successful it can be to implement and how hard it can be to overcome.
As supporters, it’s easy for us to say our team should have done this or should have done that. But they are just meaningless words. It’s simply not that easy out there on the pitch, as anyone who has played the game is aware.
A packed penalty area makes it extremely difficult for the attacking team to find that one telling through pass; it stops players with dribbling ability from weaving his way through on goal, and it restricts them to taking shots from distance. Desperately, and repeatedly, crossing the ball into a packed goalmouth can also fail to achieve the desired result because as far as the defence is concerned, anywhere will do.
The hardest thing for the attacking team to do is to remain patient because if they don’t, there is a great danger of losing a game that, if there was any justice in football, should never be lost. And to the supporters this ‘patient’ approach can be viewed as slow, boring, and frustrating football.
As frustrating as it can be to watch, ‘bus-parking’ as a viable game-plan, is a very interesting part of today’s football world and is here for the duration.