Monday, March 5, 2007

Dear Paolo - slimjim68

I could have written to Gazza for Wembley 1996 but I didn’t. The bleach blonde genius killed off my team’s hopes in a tournament they were never going to win anyway, and although I still can’t bring myself to watch that goal even ten years on, what you did was worse, far worse.

I know I would have done the same thing had I been in your position, but did you really think of the consequences when you swivelled on the six-yard line that sweltering Spanish afternoon 25 years ago? As Tardelli’s mishit shot came to you didn’t you stop and think that what you were about to do would change the beautiful game forever and sound a death knell for all-out attacking football? You see, Paolo, when you scored that third goal you knocked out the coolest, most swaggeringly brilliant team I’ve ever seen, and I’m never going to forgive you for it.

Now I know you were looking for a little personal redemption after they accused of things you said you didn’t do, and I know you did the world a favour by stopping Schumacher and co in the final, but Brazil would have done that anyway, and more gracefully, more sophisticatedly and more beautifully than you and your team-mates did. And I know Careca, Zico and the class of 86 had their moments, but it wasn’t the same. Something died that day in Barcelona, and you with your pitiless goalscorer’s instinct killed it.

Zico has since said that if Brazil had won, football would have changed. But he was wrong. If Brazil had won, football wouldn’t have changed. They would have carried on playing with the same fabulous, attack-minded approach instead of gradually sinking into a lamentable, win-at-all-costs mindset.

Perhaps I shouldn’t try and pin their near-criminal waste of talent in Germany last summer on you, and you weren’t directly responsible for team selection or tactics when the boys in yellow and green bored their way to World Cup glory in 1994. But if it hadn’t have been for you Paolo, it would have been much harder for philistines like Parreira to get the Brazil job. You see, they think it’s their duty to win the World Cup for their country no matter what, but they’re wrong. Brazil are the custodians of the world game. When they start playing 4-5-1 you know football as a spectacle is over. You can do it, Greece can do it but the Brazilians can’t. Don’t you see that? Couldn’t you see what it had come to when we all cheered as Henry’s volley hit the back of the net?

I’ve watched your goal time and again over the years and I keep hoping you shank it wide or miss the ball completely. You never do though. In it goes, over and over again, like a nail driving into a coffin.

Perhaps the wheel will turn full circle and a brave new generation will emerge to carry Socrates’s torch. I’m not holding out much hope though. I wish I didn’t blame you, you were just doing your job after all. But I keep coming back to the same thing; if only you hadn’t scored.


andrewm said...


No, no, no, no, no.

Don't take it personally, slimjim, but I hate the attitude that football is "the beautiful game".

Brazil lost

Cruyff lost.

If you'd rather play "beautiful football" and lose than play disciplined, organised football and win then be my guest.

Greece 2004 were better than Brazil '82. Discuss.

MotM said...

Winning matters and I would rather see Everton win boringly than lose er... winningly, but, oh Socrates, Eder, Junior, Falcao, Zico! Any lover of the game swoons over the memory. No Nike, no mystery illnesses, no "system", just men and a ball and a goal to be scored.

Platini's France were nearly as good and so were Cruyff's Holland, but the '82 Brazilians were footballing Gods.

PS I have almost always liked Italian teams and I cheered them on against Germany and France. What you see is what you get and Cannavaro deserved to hold up the Trophy.

Brazil and Argentina 2006 in different ways were almost joke teams in their willingness to squander talent, as bad in their own ways as England.

Ebren said...

I think slim has a point.

Football is cyclial. Attack vs defence. After '82 defence was on top.

Brazil in 94 and 2002 were pragmatic. They both had poachers up front (Romario and Ronaldo) and muscle in the midfeild (Dunga and Gilberto).

It didn't used to be that way, the Garrincha, Pele, Tostao, Didi teams were spectacular. Like Hungary 50s and even England pre-66.

The defeat of one of the most gifted attacking sides in the last 30 years by pragmatism and poaching coming on top of Germany in 74 signalled the end of the attacking cycle.

Pragmatism has won every year since.

It didn't need to be this way.

But there is another quesiton.

What would have happened if Brazil haf gone thought and the Germans won.

If the Germans have a bogy team it's the Italians, and them winning the world cup after what they did to that spectacular France team then I would have lost faith in the game - perhaps permenantly.

guitougoal said...

yes slim has a point about Brazil waste of talents.
Motm, Italy won last world cup trophy for beating France 1-1 after 120mn and being outplayed 90mn.
so much for deserving a trophy. However with Francesco Totti healthy (he was just back from a bad injury) there was no other team capable to beat Italy in 2006.Except a Brazilian team coached by Scolari.

slimjim68 said...

First of all, thanks for letting me join in Ebren. There's some really good stuff on here - let's hope people keep contributing even when Big Blogger comes to an end.
Right, here goes. I think football as a form of entertainment is on a pretty slippery slope right now. Granted the Premiership offers pretty good value - yesterday's West Ham-Spurs game being a case in point. The standard of the major championships has come right down in recent years though. Last year's World Cup was pretty dire after a promising beginning and Euro 2004 wasn't much better. Point taken andrewm, Greece won but if teams keep on winning like that the sport will die - people will stop watching and then, what's the point? I was more depressed about Brazil losing that game (and France's semi-final defeat to a slightly lesser extent) than Scotland getting knocked out (I was an impressionable 14 year old then and still believed Scotland might even get beyond the first round for a change). Sure it's a slightly emotional argument, but I think the World Cups of old proved that it isn't always the winners that get remembered, as Brazil and France proved then and the Dutch side in 1974 - they left more of a mark on world football than the West Germans did. What I'm getting at is that we're all football fans before we're fans of our clubs and countries and when the game goes to pot (Switzerland-Ukraine anyone?) then we might as well all give up.

olivier said...

France - Brazil in 82 was the best World Cup final ever (France won 5-4 after extra-time and I scored a hat-trick).

miro said...

Dear slimjim, your Dear Paolo hit a point!

The WCs 1950-2006. Who were the winners and who were the best?

1950: W-Uruguay; B-Brazil
1954: W-W.Germany; B-Hungary
1958: W-Brazil; B-Brazil
1962: W-Brazil; B-Brazil
1966: W-England; B-Argentina
1970: W-Brazil; B-Brazil
1974: W-W.Germany; B-Holland
1978: W-Argentina; B-Brazil
1982: W-Italy; B-Brazil
1986: W-Argentina; B-Argentina
1990: W-Germany; B-no one
1994: W-Brazil; B-no one
1998: W-France; B-France
2002: W-Brazil; B-Brazil
2006: W-Italy; B-Argentina

Ebren said...

Got to take issue with you there Miro.

Best side in 2002 was Turkey (out played Brazil twice, lost thanks to acring and dodgy refereeing twice).

Best side in 78 was Holland (although Brazil are in with a shout).

In 1998, France put nine players behind the ball, and their best player was as much Petit or Blanc as Zidane. Any of Holland, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, or even England could have lifted that cup as well as France that year (well, Brazil bottled the final - but you get my drift).

slimjim68 said...

andrewm, there's a row going on down at Anfield tonight. My money's on the aesthetes.
Mouth, amazing how well that Brazil side played with Serginho up front. It was like having ten men.
Miro, good list but I think Italy were the best side in 1990. Agree with Ebren, the Dutch were the best in 1978. So where does that leave Ally MacLeod and co then?

bluedaddy said...

Dont bring up 78 Slim. It still smarts. On reflection I sometimes wish we (with both parents Scots, I feel as Scottish as I do English) had played shit against Holland. All it did was rub our noses in it over the two preceding games. I was a kid, for chrissakes - what was Ally McLeod doing being manager? Lord make it stop!

andrewm said...

slimjim, I don't agree the sport will die and I don't agree we're football fans before we're fans of our clubs (well, I can only speak for myself and my friends and family).

I was a Liverpool fan before I really knew what football was. They could play the most cynical, ugly football on the planet and I would still love them and watch them every time. I think the same is true of most fans, whether they go to the games or not. All I want is them to win (without cheating I should say).

Who was it said "If you want entertainment, go and watch clowns"?

slimjim68 said...

andrewm, I'd rather watch Ronaldinho and Messi strut their stuff than Charlie Caroli. Come on, you cannot be serious? It can't all be about winning. There's got be some art, some beauty, for want of a better word, as well.

slimjim68 said...

Sorry Bluedaddy, it's just that 78 is ingrained in my psyche. I can still see my old man drinking nearly a whole bottle of whisky during the Iran game. That's what Ally did to people.

andrewm said...

slimjim, I find beauty in resilient defensive displays, heroic sliding interceptions, incredible saves.

Yes, I'm perverse :o)

slimjim68 said...

andrewm, I want you to watch Doc Soc's goal against Italy and tell me it doesn't move you.

andrewm said...

slim, I do enjoy a good piece of skill - and have you seen the goal I posted the link to on the French football thread? Astonishing! - but I prefer a classy, economical player like Alonso to the likes of Ronaldinho.

John Barnes was my first hero, but as I get older I appreciate more the Carraghers of this world. I also respect hard work and tactical organisation far more than skill.

olivier said...


"In 1998, France put nine players behind the ball", that's a wild exaggeration as both Zidane and Djorkaeff were allowed to sometimes roam forward in support of the mighty Stéphane "Goal Machine" Guivarc'h. So there were really only 8 players behind the ball at any one time.

Seriously now, have you seen a better back five than Barthez - Lizarazu - Blanc, Desailly - Thuram since 98? Anywhere?

MotM said...

andrewm - One of the pleasures of watching football is to appreciate the drones alongside the greats. I loved the work of Paul Bracewell and, especially Derek Mountfield, in Everton's Championship teams.

I feel the best teams usually win the World Cup as football is (obviously) about more than goals and scintillating attacking. That's why Italy were the best team in 2006 definitely not Argentina, although I am inclined to agree with miro sensei on the rest of his list (up to 1970 as I wasn't in a position to judge earlier).

Offside - that was a tremendous back five. Would you need shirts 10 and 11 if they had Giresse - Tigana - Platini - Fernandez in front of them?

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

That back five never lost a game. Simple as that. Whenever they were in the starting lineup together. Over 30 international games, undefeated.

And they all could play a bit too, including Barthez.

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

And no, I am not biased, of course not, don't be ridiculous now.

pipita said...

Nice one slim, congrats. Ive got to admit that as much as I appreciated the talents of that 82 brazil team, I wildly celebrated paolo's three goals at the time. Argie rivalry with the brazilians is too strong. But lets be fair with that italian team, they were capable of playing decent football with the likes of Antognoni, Conti, Paolo, Tardelli. Ive seen far worse WC winners.


Im perplexed by your decision of selecting brazil best team in 78. Are you sure about that one?? Remember their three dull games in the group matches and the even duller 0-0 draw with Argentina. That leaves you with only three good performances. Surely Argentina were a bit better

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