Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pass and Move

When I began this blog over five years ago I honestly thought there were no active A-League blogs. I soon discovered I was wrong and wrote a reasonably comprehensive review of the amateur blogs which focused on the A-League at that time.

One of the things I was hungry for from the beginning was high quality, football-knowledgeable analysis of the games. There was some, and frankly I found the best of it better than anything that the mainstream has to offer. For all of Fozzie's apostolic mission to increase our understanding of the game, for example, he doesn't actually write or present detailed and comprehensive tactical analysis of games and, come to that, neither does SBS. 442 doesn't do much better.

My suspicion is that although there are hard core fans who seek a deeper intellectual relationship with the game, they would not actually have an enormous audience compared to the "Broich thinks the coach is really good" or "Sydney confident for the big game" type bullshit that is constantly spewed at us.

Since that time, of my three favourites, James Brown went and got a girlfriend, Mike Salter had a kid and only Tony Tannous has left his old blog and joined the Roar Sports Opinion team. Of the latter I would say that some of the best analysis of all of those early A-League seasons remain on the record on Tony's old blog The Round Ball Analyst.

Occasionally I would also take the time to surf around international fan sites as well, and it was apparent that their media was enormously more developed, not just in quantity but in sophistication and understanding, I daresay the lag in  the quality of football media in general is parallel with the lag in the quality of the football. We can't expect Australian media and bloggers to be as sophisticated as Europeans, perhaps.

And although James, Mike, Tony and others were doing their best, and better than any mainstream, with people as ignorant as myself as their audience, there was another level available, not merely in knowledge and quality of analysis but in presentation and consistency.

Ok, maybe I craved more pictures. During the last World Cup I discovered Zonal Marking, and was overjoyed when it did an analysis of Pim Verbeek's Socceroos vs Germany. Well, I wasn't that overjoyed with the content as such, but I was awakened to a type of analysis, that this website appeared to consistently do, which was exciting.

Anyway that's a bit of my own journey with it all, and in that time I've learned a lot about this game, and also about how much I don't know. Aside from bloggers my teachers of strategy and tactics were mostly the coaches of the Roar in a way, Miron Bleiberg, Frank Farina and, especially Ange Postecoglou. It is the latter that seemed to put a lot of the pieces together for me.

As I watched Ange develop and implement his system, and then begun to watch it work, I felt that I understood much better some of Craig Foster's rave, and also his passionate vehemence. Another level is possible, another level of football, and that level is facilitated by increasing understanding of the game among coaches, parents, fans and journalists.

The real fear with regard to the Brisbane Roar, according to this narrative, is that when Ange goes the Australian media and fans will forget it as a freakish success, the pressure will be off the other teams to do the extremely difficult, and the A-League will revert to the sort of mediocrity in which a thug-led Melbourne Victory can win. The only antidote to this fear is increasing understanding of the game.

The narrative about Ange is well established. He has 'brought the A-League to another level', 'raised the bar for all the other teams' etcetera. And he really has.

But a new player has also come onto the Australian blogging scene. It is my opinion that he's raised the bar of tactical analysis (for both A-League and Socceroos actually) but interestingly, he's declared that intent.

I am saying that Pass and Move is to soccer blogging what Ange is to the A-League. I guess it's a coincidence that 'Pass and Move' is also a good description of what Ange has brought to the Roar's game. Here is Pass and Move's manifesto in full:
Pass and Move is a football blog dedicated to tactical analysis, with a special emphasis on the Socceroos and the A-League, the top flight of Australian competition. It was inspired by the work of Michael Cox on Zonal Marking and Jonathon Wilson for the Guardian.
Pass and Move is an attempt to elevate the level of tactical discourse and insight about football in Australia; the central tent of Pass and Move is to move beyond merely reporting 'what' occurred during a match and ascertaining 'why' and 'how' it was won, drawn or lost.
Pass and Move hope to encourage others to broaden their own football knowledge. Check out the Recommended Reading below, and help spread the word about Pass and Move.

Advancing the level of understanding is not merely something Pass and Move does by analysis. Pass and Move does an occasional "Commentary on the Commentary" where he discusses mainstream discussions of a game and explains to us why they are full of shit. Now, clearly in each case there may be room for real argument, but this analysis is better, more comprehensive, coherent and clear than anything else around for our country. It also has cool pictures of the formations.

Now, no I don't know this guy. I don't even know if it's a guy. This review is from my heart. It is in the interests of our game in Australia for us to actively support the best possible analysis of out league, our national team and the games thereof. The more we build understanding among fans and media, the more likely it will be that, when Ange goes, the Australian football public will insist that the teams in the A-League continue to aim for the very difficult: that high place of practice which I am calling ensemble football, that has not been seen enough in our country.

I am also aware when I read the posts in Pass and Move, which are almost daily in frequency, that there is enormous love and effort behind the blog, and I am aware that with little reward the person behind it will not last, or not as consistently. Just like we must encourage good football, we must encourage good football writing. And I sincerely think we should actively support this blog. If Fozzie's apostolic mission is important to him, he should also actively support this blog. Same goes for any other football evangelist.

One last thing. As a Roar fan I am delighted that Pass and Move has so far reviewed all of our games this season. These reviews remain an extraordinary literary record of our season. But Pass and Move only reviews two games per round. These games are determined by popular vote on surveys down the right hand side ("Which Round x match are you most excited about?"). So it is of utmost importance that Roar fans get on the site and vote for our games to be reviewed.

Just as a final note, I feel fairly confident in predicting that the Roar are going to destroy Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon and then make biscuits out of them. That, I'm afraid, is the extent of my own tactical capacity.


Blogger Pass and Move said...

Nothing else to say except thank you. This is an amazing compliment.

November 13, 2011 1:52 pm  
Anonymous dl said...

i am devastated he has disappeared off to mars, where can we find our fix now?

April 24, 2012 6:09 pm  

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