Help Me Be a Better Football Fan

Alright bitches! (Apologies for the aggressive opener there, I’m not sure what came over me). Right anyway, here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure I’m a football fan, in fact yeah, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say yes, I am a football fan, but what I’m not so sure about is if I’m doing it right, it appears I’m not very good at watching football, and dear reader, I’m here to ask you for help.

To illustrate what I mean I have a confession to make, now this may shock you, hell it might even disgust you, but I feel in the interests of self-improvement it is something I must do, here goes. I, Alastair Moncrieff, couldn’t give the tiniest of shits about pass completion rates, I have no interest in possession percentages and I’m not even all that sure I know what a key pass is!

I know, I know, I ought to be ashamed of myself, and trust me I am. I’m embarrassed too. Allow me to furnish this tale with an example, I watched an ‘Iniestaless’ Barcelona the other day and thought they looked a little bit ordinary, not rubbish or anything, but just a bit (by their standards) off. Imagine my horror then, when I logged on to popular “micro-blogging” site ‘twitter’ and was confronted by irrefutable evidence that ‘Barca’ had indeed produced one of the great performances of our time. You see I’d made the mistake of forming an opinion on the game BEFORE analysing a full statistical breakdown, complete with graphics, chalkboards, and a succession of (what I’d always suspected were entirely random) multi-coloured lines and squiggles. It turned out that ‘Barca’ had set a new record for number of passes completed in a game that kicked off on a Tuesday, against a team with at least three players whose surnames began and ended with a vowel.

I looked and felt like a fool, the derision which was forthcoming was both plentiful and justified. As I said, I’m just not very good at watching football, and I’m begging for your help.

When I watch Andres Iniesta play I know that what I should really be salivating over is his pass completion rate, but because I’m not very good at watching football I get excited by that little shuffle then acceleration thing he does. I know, I’m clearly a fucking idiot, I mean you can’t even express a shuffle/acceleration in a statistical form. I just like it because it looks cool/pretty.

It is clear I am a simple minded chap, but to my credit I am striving for enlightenment.

My mentally stunted approach to watching football extends to the legends of the game. For example I have often said that Zinedine Zidane is the greatest player I have ever seen, but how can I say that when I don’t know the number of key passes he averaged per game? I just liked it when he did stuff like this.

Gabriel Batistuta was another great who captured my adolescent admiration, but that admiration was earned with me entirely ignorant to the Argentine’s chance conversion rate, for all I know the stats may show us that Batistuta was a bit shit. I just liked it when he did stuff like this.

That buck toothed, one man fun factory, Ronaldinho is another who I loved with no statistical basis for said love. I always considered him one of the all-time great ‘dribblers’ but I never knew his ‘dribble completion ratio’, so it is quite possible that far from being a ‘great’ dribbler he might have sucked at it (incidentally if there’s a ‘dribble opponents into sheer insanity’ stat, then I reckon ‘ronnnie would probably score pretty high on that count). I just liked it when he did stuff like this.

I’m clearly watching football ‘wrong’.

While I’m here confessing my football watching sins, I have a few more of which to avail myself. Brace yourselves, these may shock.

  • I prefer wingers to ‘inverted wingers’
  • I prefer no. 9s to ‘false 9s’
  • I can’t tell the difference between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3
  • I thought a key pass was just a fancy way of saying assist
  • I often cheer ‘thumping’ challenges
  • I’d rather watch 2 shit teams playing at a decent tempo than 2 technically proficient sides ‘controlling possession’
  • I like headers, and by extension, players who are good at heading
  • I don’t see why a midfielder can’t defend and attack
  • Own goals make me laugh
  • I think I prefer funny football to ‘good’ football
  • On a graph I can easily identify the vertical and horizontal axis, however I am unable to decipher how a football match could possibly be ‘vertical’

So there you have it, I have laid bare my flaws for the world to see. As you can see I really am shit at watching football, am I beyond help? I pray not. If I can be helped then I believe you, the reader, are the man or woman for the job. Help me dear reader, you’re my only hope.

Advice can be left in the comments section or I can be found on twitter right here



  1. Really enjoyed reading this article , kinda echo your sentiments!…

    1. Always a delight when someone enjoys my writing, thank you! And if you kinda agree then that’s a bonus!

  2. So it’s not just me then? 😀

    1. Of course not, there are more of us than I thought!

  3. This was delightful. As someone who doesn’t see why a midfielder can’t attack and defend without it being shocking, I loved this.

    1. Why thank you, yes I’m not sure when it was decided the word midfielder needed an ‘attacking’ or ‘defending’ prefix. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is genuinely appreciated!

  4. I definitely enjoyed your article, however I’d nitpickingly argue that a key pass is one that creates a goal scoring opportunity, rather than only a goal 🙂 Good work, though!

    1. Ah see, with your help I’m learning! Glad you enjoyed it mate!

  5. You shouldn’t be proud of your ignorance.

    1. Ignorance? In what possible way am I ignorant my friend? I (presumably) appreciate football in a different way and for different reasins to you that is all.

  6. Marry me, you hairy-knuckled mouth breather

    1. Of course I’ll marry you! Now to plan the “big day”! We can make it a football themed wedding, everyone can wear retro shirts and we’ll have a 3 tiered pie instead of a cake!

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