I'm really sorry if this post sounds self-righteous. I realize that I could possibly come off as a total douche here, especially since I just got this site up and running yesterday, but you can't control when ideas pop into your head. Today, on the second day of Cartilage Free Captain's existence, I started thinking about the chalkboard phenomenon. Sorry. You can thank Aaron over at 7500 to Holte for bringing this post by Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing to my attention and getting me to think about this.
A couple of years ago, The Guardian introduced a feature to their football coverage that I thought was pretty sweet. That feature is Guardian Interactive Chalkboards. This feature allows one to look at many different aspects of a game in the Premier League, such as completed passes by an individual or team, successful tackles by an individual or team, etc.
Some blogs have expanded on this idea, such as the fantastic Zonal Marking. Unfortunately, the chalkboard thing is now an explosion. Everyone and their mom uses them constantly. Lots of people with fantastic, 100% pure intentions often appear to be plagiarizing Zonal Marking. Even when someone doesn't have the ability to make the graphics, they still obsess over whether someone is a defensive midfielder or central midfielder. Whether a team is playing 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1. I love Sounder at Heart, those guys are very passionate fans, good writers, and know what they're talking about, but we don't need to stress over whether Steve Zakuani is a left midfielder, left winger, or left forward. Sorry, but it's not a huge deal.
By the way, I'm guilty of this too. I've abused chalkboards. You can see me do it right here.
Today, I'm hear to repent for my sinful chalkboard abuse. I'm here to apologize for all the times I was a total dick and told someone "They're playing 4-2-3-1, not 4-4-1-1." I was wrong. Not necessarily because I was incorrect, said hypothetical team in said hypothetical situation could have been playing 4-2-3-1. I was wrong because this isn't a big deal.
The soccer blogging community has become obsessed with what formation teams are really playing and it's beyond ridiculous. Some of these people are explaining this accurately, respectfully, and concisely, but most do not. Everyone is trying to be Zonal Marking whether they know it or not, and as a result we end up with lots of unqualified people talking about tactics and lots of people that are qualified talking about tactics in a rude tone that is dismissive of their readers.
Jeff was right, we can do better. We can give our readers great information without turning everything into a discussion about formations. We can discuss tactics without being bad knock-offs of each other. Let's stop over-simplifying tactics with a simple formation notation and tired cliches and start being original.