“Marge…sometimes the best defence is a good offense” – Homer Simpson
As Marge Simpson implores her husband to drive defensively as he weaves his way through traffic while running late for a Monster Truck Rally, Homer’s retort gives an insight into contrasting life philosophies. We are all on a journey in life – for Marge, arriving at the destination is the goal, for Homer…well, he wants to have some fun along the way…
Liverpool have conceded 49 goals this season and on 16 occasions in the league they have conceded 2 or more in a single match. Since the dramatic collapse at Crystal Palace, the sports media has bemoaned Liverpool’s lack of defensive quality as the root cause of falling short in the race for the title. That at 3-1 in the Palace game, a defensive substitution should have been made in contrast to the attacking one made by Brendan Rodgers. However, the media has been quick to forget Liverpool’s contribution to an amazing Premier League season in which they have scored 99 goals and set a new record of 48 away league goals. Luis Suarez is also only one goal away from breaking the individual goalscoring record in a 20 team Premier League season. Brendan Rodgers should be applauded for trying to win the right way.
The philosophical debate of attack v defence seldom seems to end in ultimate victory for the attack-minded. Unfortunately, the great Dutch teams of 1974 and ’78 are remembered as failures despite reaching the final at both World Cups. The amazing Brazilian team of ’82 is also cast in the light of losers despite scoring some of the most incredible goals ever seen at a World Cup finals. If you have a spare 5 minutes and 46 seconds I recommend you watch the following clip – it will take your breath away.
In a piece of broadcasting which surely could not happen today, Brian Clough appeared on Yorkshire Television in 1974 on the evening of his sacking as Leeds manager after only 44 days in charge, alongside the man he replaced, Don Revie. Revie had won 7 major trophies in a hugely successful thirteen-year spell as Leeds manager, despite playing a brand of football which came in for criticism for its uncompromising style. Think Moyes and Ferguson appearing together on a chat show last month on the evening of Moyes’ sacking. As the interview progresses, Clough and Revie begin to address each other directly. Revie asks Clough why he took the job at Leeds when he had openly criticised Leeds’ style. Clough responds that he wanted to ‘win it better’.
We seem to live in a society which categorizes people into winners or losers based on simple definitions of success. However, life is rarely black and white. Sometimes a noble defeat can live longer in the memory than an uninspiring success. Hey they even gave Rocky an Oscar despite a split decision points defeat to Apollo Creed.
Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. – Samuel Beckett
This writer hopes for one, that what looks like the potentially traumatic experience of losing the title after being so close, does not sway Brendan Rodgers from his course – that he remains true to his attacking principles. Liverpool will recover. They will be back to fail better…
David Sheehan, Pundit Arena.