in reflecting on the schoolboy nonsense of the previous post, it's clear that the pajamas media guy believes wholly in tactics. he believes that he can take a collection of 11 year olds and configure them into "winners" by simple exhortation and rearrangement. it's the same sort of american gung-ho-ism that leads so many of us to rah-rah our invasion of third and fourth-rate military countries like iraq and afghanistan, without properly understanding the depth of strategy necessary to earn that success, and the cost implicit in achieving it. (not to mention how it's entirely a different sport than competing with real armies from real countries like russia and china). at the risk of falling into the same arrogant trap into which he's already fallen, i might suggest that, given a few minutes with the team he so proudly bested, i could reconfigure the result with even less effort. (what is it that bum phillips once said of his mentor, bear bryant? "he can take his'n and beat your'n, and then take your'n and beat his'n"?)
what has me so exercised today is that we have become a nation of armchair quarterbacks (armchair coaches, to be more accurate) who are all sooooo much smarter than everybody else, and, to paraphrase sun tzu, knowing neither ourselves nor our potential opponents. (we can't even tell an actual muslim from a terrorist sham of one). our "strategy" is a reliance on tactics (let's NUKE 'EM!) and, more clear today than ever, we go to war before ever understanding how it is that we might be able to actually win. (would you prefer to have to visit downtown iraq today, or downtown iraq 10 years ago?) it's written all over the daily news, and its written all over opinion pieces like the tripe in pajamas media where someone who understands nothing about soccer, and, according to sun tzu, nothing about winning, tries to pretend he's teaching 11 year olds anything about either.
i've written previously about the norwegian university study that shows that conditioning, not practice with ball skills, yields best results on the soccer pitch compared with presently accepted training methods. (nobody is suggesting that one be practiced without the other). i've written a bit here about how superior players should not be positioned on the field to touch the ball the least, despite what mr. pajamas media would have you believe. there are litany of other things to be understood (know yourself and know your enemy, and know how to win before you go to war) and the ultimate truth is that you will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to judge from your observations the strategy used by someone else to win, unless they explain it to you.
if i were teaching 11 year olds to play soccer, (which i have done with great reward and success in the past, though not success as mr pajamas media might measure it), i would start by explaining that the key to true and lasting success on a soccer field, as well as life, is in maximizing the contribution of ALL players on a team--not maximizing the contribution of a few. (this would be contrary to middle school american football coaching that focuses on the star quarterback, and, apparently, anathema to pajamas media soccer coaching that focuses on putting the most talented players as far away from the middle of the field as possible). i would put my best athletes where they would find the ball in front of them and towards the opponents goal with greatest frequency, and i would ensure that my opponents' best athletes would never be far away from several players who were their match in speed and athleticism. from there, i would guess, knowing my pajamas media opponent as well as myself, that it would be just a matter of time before non-scoring frustration would pull more and more of his better athletes further and further ahead of the ball, until none of them remained where they could do anything about the counterattack that would defeat them.
i worry, with our military stretched to such an extent waging war on multiple fronts, whatever might have happened (or may still happen) if a well-strategized opponent chose this time to attack us. i fear we would not fare so well.
though i'm sure many of our 11 year old soccer coaches would be extremely quick to blame everything else but the truth about why that might be so.