CITY OF CULTURE EXPOSED
The former Real Madrid coach and World Cup winner Jorge Valdano has attacked Rafael Benítez and Jose Mourinho, insisting that they are ushering in a bleak future for football and likening the Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea to "a shit hanging from a stick".
The Argentinian, who scored in the 1986 World Cup final and has a respected reputation as a football intellectual, claimed that Mourinho and Benítez mistrust talent because of their own failure to make it as players and said their approach is bad news for the game.
Writing in Spain's best-selling newspaper, Marca, Valdano insisted: "Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion - and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a shit hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it's a work of art. It's not: it's a shit hanging from a stick.
"Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct," he added. "But, a short pass? Noooo. A feint? Noooo. A change of pace? Noooo. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don't be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.
"If Didier Drogba was the best player in the first match it was purely because he was the one who ran the fastest, jumped the highest and crashed into people the hardest. Such extreme intensity wipes away talent, even leaving a player of Joe Cole's class disoriented. If football is going the way Chelsea and Liverpool are taking it, we had better be ready to wave goodbye to any expression of the cleverness and talent we have enjoyed for a century."
Valdano explained why Benítez and Mourinho were to blame for the demise of flair and creativity. "The lives of Mourinho and Benítez have crossed in a world that is ever more scrutinised and exposed by the media, which is why they look at each other with such distrust," he wrote, "but they have two things in common: a previously denied, hitherto unsatisfied hunger for glory, and a desire to have everything under control.
"Both of those things stem from one key factor: neither Mourinho nor Benítez made it as a player. That has made them channel all their vanity into coaching. Those who did not have the talent to make it as players do not believe in the talent of players, they do not believe in the ability to improvise in order to win football matches. In short, Benítez and Mourinho are exactly the kind of coaches that Benítez and Mourinho would have needed to have made it as players."