Intervju med Jonathan Wilson om Champions League og finalen 2019
Freddy dos Santos og Hans-Erik Eriksen har snakket med Jonathan Wilson, en av Europas ledende fotballskribenter. I dette dypgående intervjuet bidrar han med sin innsikt, hjelper oss i å nøste i Champions League-historien og å se de store sammenhengene.
Samtidig prøver vi å gå inn i hodene på Tottenhams Mauricio Pocchetino og Liverpools Jürgen Klopp. I tillegg kjenner vi på nostalgien, og spør hva de store pengene har gjort med den ærverdige lojaliteten.
Du kan lese intervjuet i sin helhet under.
Her er noen av temaene som blir belyst:
- Vil vi noensinne se lag som Rosenborg i kvartfinalen igjen?
- Fotball er vår europeiske nasjonal sport, en europeisk oppfinnelse. Er det slik at drømmen om regjere Europa også gir oss noe å samles om på tvers av kulturer og landegrenser?
- Er årets totale engelsk dominans en tilfeldighet, eller er dette starten på en ny æra for den engelske fotballen?
- Hva er status for de seks engelske toppklubbene – her følger en ganske nådeløs oppsummering om hvorfor de ikke har levert i Europa siden 2014. Blant annet mener han at Manchester United ennå ikke har tatt et oppgjør med Ferguson-tiden.
- Den moderne fotballen. Er all lojalitet tapt i de store pengene? Er det virkelig slik at kinesiske supportere er viktigere for f. eks Everton enn gutten som vokste opp noen steinkast fra stadion?
- Er de store klubbene dominans eneste logiske utfall at det må dannes en ny Euorpean Superleague på bekostning av de nasjonale ligaene?
- Den moderne fotballen er tuftet på høyt press og en enorm pasningssikkerhet, hvor kom dette fra? – og hvordan utviklet spillet seg i denne retningen til det vi ser i dag?
- Hva skiller taktikkene til Pocchetino og Klopp?
- Hvordan kommer Liverpool og Klopp til å prøve å slå Pocchetino og Tottenham? – og hvordan kommer Tottenham og Pocchetino til å prøve å slå Klopp og Liverpool?
Jonathan Wilson skriver regelmessig om fotball og taktikk i The Guardian. Han har skrevet fem bøker, inkludert Inverting the Pyramid (du burde lese den) som ble kåret til Årets fotballbok i 2009. Han er også redaktør for The Blizzard, et kvartalstidskrift om fotball.
Freddy dos Santos: Welcome to our show, the Footballytics podcast, Mr. Jonathan Wilson.
Jonathan Wilson: Hi, how are you doing?
Freddy: Hey, so great to have you with us. How are you doing over there?
Jonathan: Oh, thank you very much for having me.
Freddy: Yeah. Where are you right now?
Jonathan: I'm in Sunderland at the moment.
Freddy: Yeah, at Sunderland, that's your hometown, right?
Jonathan: Yeah, I live in London, but my mom and to living in Sunderland, so yeah, I come and visit her as often as if I can.
Freddy: And you’re a Sunderland fan?
Jonathan: Yes, I am.
Freddy: One of my best friend's is also… his father, he was a Sunderland fan, moved over to Norway because of work in like the 70s. And Thomas, my friend was born, and from that time on, he was a Sunderland fan as well. So he travels over and there's been… what you’d say after the last few years haven't been the best.
Jonathan: Yeah. I think that that's an understatement. But, yeah, we got the play-off final on Sunday, so hopefully we can least get back in the championship. But, you know, it's actually, you know, it's a strange thing you kind of… it's very easy to get hung up on the idea that (unclear) [03:22] everything. And actually, you know, this season, the mood in the ground, the experience of going to Sunderland has been much more relaxed, much more fun than it has been for a long, long time. There's been a little bit of tension recently because the last the last 7 games of a season, we only won 1 of them and, you know, we probably should have been provided automatically and ended up in the playoffs. But, yeah, and for the most of the season, suddenly you remember why you start going to football in the first place and, you know, you go, your mates and you have a laugh and maybe the team wins, maybe they don't. But anyway, in the Premier League, there's so much pressure and, you know, every point that slips away you feel is, yes, a massive problem because, you know, there's such a danger of relegation. So, yeah, Sunderland had 10 years in the Premier League which is the longest sustained spell in the Premier League since they were first relegated in 1958. But it wasn't fun, it was desperate scramble to survive and share the last month of each season as they pulled out a string of ridiculous results which kept happening was brilliant. But, you know, Sunderland’s gone clear until they seem to me like 5 years about winning a game in August/September, which it kind of quickly stops being fun. So hopefully they get promoted, I think the championship is fine, I don't think any Sunderland fan would really mind being a championship for a little while. (unclear) [04:46] it's been nice for a little while, but we only won 2 seasons.
Freddy: Yeah, I wish you the best of luck.
Jonathan: Well, thank you, yeah. It's quite interesting when you have an average home attendance is 31,000 and the next biggest in the league is like 17 and a half thousand.
Jonathan: And you suddenly realize that for every other team in the league, you're the giant, you're the ones they want to beat. So, you know, the away end as always… there's always like 3,000 people there and normally, you know, they only take 1200, 1500, but they want to go to the stadium, right, they want to go the big stadium.
Freddy dos Santos: Yeah.
Jonathan: So that's kind of nice for a little while but, you know, let's not keep doing it.
Freddy: No, I hope you I hope you get promoted and play in the championship next season. What we were going to talk about today is the Champions League. Formerly known as European Cup, started out in 1955 with a total Spanish dominance in the start; Real Madrid picking their first of many titles in the 50s. Why was it so important, Jonathan, for European football to have this kind of competition?
Jonathan: Well, I mean, the spark that caused this was the great Humbird sides from Budapest, just outside Budapest had gone to play Wolves in 1954 and had been beaten 3-2. And in England in the 50s when floodlighting was just starting to be to be put in the games in the grounds and they had they had a seat called floodlit renders. So they were, you know, games between English sides and big foreign team played at night and your league games would never be played at night then, league games would all go on Saturday afternoon.
And they had this sort of glamor and this exoticism because they played in the floodlights and the teams would wear like silk shirts rather than the normal heavy cotton shirts, so they showed up better under the lights.
And this game between Wolves and Humbird was this amazing game, Wolves won 3-2. And the Daily Mail the next day, not only Daily Mail overboard, the Daily Mail had the headline ‘Champions of the world’. And Gabriellano who had been a French international, he'd been the national team manager of France and then became the editor of Lakeep, he said, “This is ridiculous, you can’t have teams just saying we're the champions of the world, we should have a competition to test this,” and so he put in place this competition for the champions of teams across Europe. And, you know, they had to had being international clubs tournaments before that the Deena Motoko Cup in Central Europe which had run from I think 1930 or maybe 1929. So the idea of international competition did exist, but he was the first person to say, “Alright, let's organize this properly, let's have the champions of every league and let's test it out.”
Freddy: And what a success it has been, although it has changed quite a bit through the years, Hans-Eric.
Hans-Erik Eriksen: Yeah, in a very much way and of course in the money-wise, it's totally a different ballgame at the moment. I guess it's always been like that, the richer clubs will always be first in line when it comes to picking players and the best players of course. But maybe we have seen in the last couple of years that the distance between the rich and the poor is been… it's bigger than ever.
Freddy: Is that what you feel as well? Could any team from anywhere in Europe have won and the European Cup in I like say 50 years ago, but today there's only a few, a handful of teams that can lift the Champions League trophy?
Jonathan: It is very different difficult to answer because it's such a different world that, you know, back then, you have to be the champion. So you have to be a team of a certain caliber to win your league. And then I guess once you've done that, it was open to a much greater spread of countries. Although you actually don't really see that until the late 80s when you suddenly get, you know, a team from Romania, a team from Yugoslavia, teams from the Netherlands and Portugal, you're winning in a block. But I think I guess the way to answer that question is to sort of look on looking the other way around and say it is actually a (unclear) [09:24] very close this season. We've got a massive problem that for 15 years, there's only 4 countries provided finalists in the Champions League. So every finalist in last 15 years has been from England, Spain, Italy or Germany. And now I think is damaging to football and it's worrying. You know, I think it must be an enormous frustration to those countries who uses these have a chance to providing finalists, places like Portugal, like the Netherlands, now that seems beyond, although I actually get very close with this season.
Freddy: Well, will we ever see like a Porto who won in 2004, Red Star Belgrade they won in ’91, or for that matter a Rosenborg who played quarterfinals in the Champions League in ‘97 which, at the moment seems like a far stretch, but could we ever see that again?
Jonathan: Well, do you certainly see core finalist. I mean, we had Apple not that long ago got to the quarterfinals, so it is possible, but it's very, very difficult. I mean, I think I asked if everybody hoped that if you have a good generation of young players, you know, if you coached them well then, yeah, there's a chance. So you look at Monaco 2 years ago getting the semi-final, the problem for those clubs is they get one shot, and if they fail with that shot, the team has picked apart. You know, we know already that I think Deyong’s going to Barcelona, (unclear) [10:51] is going to leave, I'm sure 2 or 3 others of our team will leave. So that's the problem for the smaller teams that or the teams in the smaller countries that you can… if everything goes right, you can get it, get a chance. But if you don't take that chance, it doesn't come around again for 10, 20, 30 ,40 years. So that that's where the big difference lies I think.
Freddy: Yeah. England have a great tradition for supporting the national team all over the world, but one thing that strikes me, I have been to a few England games in the World Cup and you really see an English flag with any names of what on the big clubs names are written on it. What's the reason for that? Is it because the supporters of the big clubs, they focus all their international attention on the club's achievements and not the national team?
Jonathan: Yeah, I think it's partly that. I think that a couple of other things going on as well which is if, you know, if you turn up with an England flag with Liverpool written on it or Manchester United written on it, half of the other thing that fans will hate you.
Freddy: Yeah, that’s true.
Jonathan: If you have like Macclesfield written on it, nobody hates Macclesfield and like it's an advert for you. People will come out and go, “Oh yeah, well done Macclesfield, you avoided relegation. Sol Campbell, let's have a talk about Sol Campbell.”
If you have a big club, then you're inviting people who don't like that club to, you know, be aggressive to you. I also think there's just a financial thing that if you're a supporter of the club in the Champions League, maybe you spent all your money going to watch, you know, Liverpool playing in Barcelona and in Munich and in Porto and you don't have the money left to go and support England when they go and play in a major tournament. So, you know, but you're right there's also… and I guess I think would include myself in this, yeah I I'm a Sunderland fan, I don't really feel an England fan. So, yeah, I think there's definitely… there's a large constituency of people who feel affiliation to their club before affiliation to their national team.
Freddy: So how important has achievements in Europe for English club then been for the English football stuff confidence or self-esteem?
Jonathan: Well, yeah that's an interesting question. You know, I think the strange thing is not that we have 4 English teams in the finals this year. I mean, I guess it's unusual in it’s never happened before. But I think the oddity is that there were no English teams in the Champions League final between Chelsea in 2012 and Liverpool last season. And given the wealth of the Premier League, that seems to me, you know, pretty major underachievement. Now you can even point out club by club that Manchester United haven't really dealt with the retirement of Alex Ferguson, Manchester City have struggled I think to adapt to being an elite club having, you know, not really been an elite club until 8, 9 years ago when (unclear) [14:01] took over. Liverpool have… although they now have a squad finally that can complete, they had a long time sort of slowly building that scores. Tottenham have never really, you know, not almost 60 years, they really been an elite club until the last 2 or 3 years. Chelsea we've seen (unclear) [14:30] interest in the club has slowly diminished and now he's keeping denied a visa, he's clearly withdrawing, and so the less money there for the transfers. Arsenal, you know we saw that long slow decline of Arson Wenger. So each… and Leicester, obviously was a freakish case anyway, they'll go in the Champions League. So each of the 7 clubs who have represent in the Champions League, there's been a specific reason why they haven't been that great. But I equally think, and it could come back to your question about self-esteem, I don't think many English fans or fans of Premier League clubs were thinking, “Oh, yeah, maybe our product isn't great,” I think they're just watching Premier League and going, “Yeah, we enjoy this, this is the last run.”
And the fact that their teams didn't do that well in Europe, yeah, I di… you know, certainly in England, I wasn't aware of really bothering English people. There was a few questions asked like, “hang on, how come we're not producing teams to get to the final?” and, yeah, we would look for reasons and, you know, we keep asking managers, “How come we keep on falling short?” but I don't really feel… you know, I think the tone of that was always, “We should be doing better than this. It's not that our product isn't good, it's that for some reason, they're not… they're not quite getting there. But I think there's also an interesting thing going on that I'm not even sure people really think in that way anymore of the… you know, thinking of English teams. I think now if you have this on 10, 12 super clubs, it's almost sort of transnational now if you're a kid growing up in, I don't know, Birmingham you’re as likely… when you watch… when you watch the Champions League against Birmingham City or Aston Villa or West Brom or wolves aren't involved in it, if you pick a team for support, it might be Barcelona, it might be Juventus. There's no guarantee you really care about how good these teams do. And I think that's a really major change in how the game is consumed that’s sort of come in over the last decade, and it's, yeah, I think partly because you have the super clubs which somehow just seemed bigger than the national affiliation. I think it's partly things like FIFA, you know, the video game.
But if you go on there and you want to play Lionel Messi, then you say, “Okay, I’ll be Barcelona, you be whoever.” And so then you started to develop an affiliation for Barcelona even if you've never been there. Or equally a champion manager maybe kind of you develop an attachment to a club that's got nothing to do with where you're from. And I think even the way football is on TV now. You know, when I was a kid, you know, until I was what 15 I think, we never got foreign football on TV. And then we got Italy because Paul Gascoigne moved to (unclear) [17:15]. But it was only late 90s when we started getting La Liga, and even then, you had to have a Sky subscription.
Freddy: This sounds like the Norwegian let's call it a problem because Norwegian kids, when you see them in the playing football in the streets, you see more Liverpool or United or Barcelona or Juventus shirts than you can see Vålerenga or Molde, whichever club you can see here.
Jonathan: Far more, far more.
Hans-Erik: But, Jonathanm, isn't this I almost say against the routes of football? Because football… I remember my father was saying that they were playing teams competing streets against street and the finally ended up in in the same club. But before they started to play football in the club, they played the street versus street, this is more the old-fashioned way of football and getting the commitment to the… from where you’re from.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think you’re right, I think that there's a major change. I mean, the idea of street playing streets, you know, it certainly England now, you just couldn't do that, you know, because there's cars everywhere, you know, there's no space to play football for kids. So, you know, it's something that, yeah, I guess I'd sort of hadn't noticed because I you I moved to London from Sunderland 20 years ago, and London is so big and so busy, of course kids don’t play in the street, it’d be ridiculous. But I spend a lot more time in Sunderland in the last sort of 6 months to a year and I'm suddenly really, “Where… hang on, there are no kids anywhere, where are they?” They’re not playing in the streets whether it's football or, yeah, hide-and-seek or, you know, whatever, you never see kids playing about in the way that I used to. And I don't know that's a safety thing or I don't know if it's because everybody has a PlayStation now, but yeah, there's definitely been a change in how people even when they're very young, how they start to engage with football. And I think… yeah, I think that it's only tangentially related, but I think affiliations to your local club whether, you know, playing for them or, you know, or supporting them, I think they are being eroded. And, you know, I find… I find discussions of fandom very difficult, because my experience of it seems to me very different to a lot of people's, and I also find my heart and my head are in different places. So let's deal with the rational side first. So the Premier League is aggressively marketed all around the world.
So we can't… you know, if Premier League is making money from say China and then, you know, Chinese TV companies are spending enormous amounts of money to broadcast the Premier League in China and you then get a generation of Chinese kids coming through watching the Premier League on TV and they decide like, “I'm an Everton fan,” or whoever, let's say Everton…
… and then, you know, so their like 16th birthday, they're big present that their parents been saving up for the years is, right, “You can… we'll take you to a match at Goodison Park.” I mean, if they go all the way from China to Liverpool and they go to Goodison Park and you can't say that kid in his Everton shirt with Theo Walcott's name on the back or whatever, you can't say he's not a fan because he's come all the way from China and, you know, he’s…
Jonathan: … it's being marketed to him, you can't turn him away. But at the same time, I don't understand how he can possibly have the level of feeling for Everton that me who was born in Sunderland, whose dad was born in Sunderland, whose granddad was born in Sunderland, whose family for generations have been (unclear) [21:15] at Sunderland, to him Sunderland is… there was never a choice, it's just sort of it's, you know, a part of you, it’s an organ of your body. And for all that Sunderland frustrate me and kind of hopeful, they get things badly wrong and for all they let me down, they do some terrible things like, you know, the club behaves abysmally over with the Adam Johnson case when, you know, he'd had a sexual relationship with a 16 year old, and yet the club kept playing him. And they must have known what was going on and though, you know… and then, you know, that was something where I felt really disgusted at them for the way they’d acted, but I couldn't sort of separate myself from that. And so even if I wanted to walk away, I couldn't. Now…
Freddy: Because it’s part of your identity.
Jonathan: … that relationship with something is very different to a Chinese kid’s or Everton’s, and yet I guess they're both equally valid forms of fandom.
Hans-Erik: But I guess it's some kind of the same in Norway because the first English game broadcasted in Norway was in ‘69 I think.
Freddy: Yeah Sunderland actually against Wolves.
Hans-Erik: Yes, that's correct. During the 70s and 80s, there was always 1 game, English game on the Norwegian television and kids were growing up supporting an English team not in the region team, but an English team. So we have diehard Man United, Liverpool…
Freddy: Leeds, Leeds are one of the biggest actually.
Hans-Erik:… yes, supporters in Norway, and they are supporting those clubs much more and much more deep than they are supporting the local club.
Freddy: Yeah, English football is huge in Norway as you probably know. And also because we've had a lot of players and Norwegian players in English football, especially like 20 years ago in the 90s when we had 30 or 40 players in the Premier League and at the time, we also had a competitive national team as well. So and that that's sort of part of why English football is so huge in Norway. Do you feel that when you're… yeah, you probably get a lot of attention from Norwegian both like podcasts like we have today but also journalists and fans who approach you to talk about English football, right?
Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely and yeah, I'm the editor of the Blizzard and I'm pretty sure Norway is either 4th or 5th, you know, most commonplace visitors to our website and subscriber model, yeah. We've, you know, UK 1st, US 2nd, Ireland 3rd, and I think Norway's 4th; either Norway or German is 4th and the other one is 5th. So, you know, with the interest in English football from Norway, you know, I think pretty much everybody in England, certainly every English media it's very aware.
Freddy: But when you talk about this kind of loyalty thing as it is, do you see that in the players today playing in the different clubs all around Europe and the world that the loyalty is kind of gone?
Jonathan: Yeah, I think you do see that, I think that, you know, it's so easy for players to move now. And this isn't really blaming players, I think clubs as well, you know, there's such an acceptance of the transfer market. But when a player joins a club, how many of them really believe they'll be there for more than 2 years, 3 years. And it becomes… again, I've become more aware of this this season since when Sunderland’s got relegated to League 1 that we had a kid called Josh Magette who I think he'd been at Seed Academy, I think he might have been at CPR before that, but something got in from Manchester City's Academy, and he's of mixed English Nigerian descent. And he played a couple of times last season, then this season, you know, he became a starter, he's 19 now. He scored 15 league goals before January, and then in January, he sold the Bordeaux. And you sort of think, “Well, here's a guy who's on the verge of becoming a massive hero for Sunderland fans and he's gone, like he had 6 months.” And yeah, I can't blame him for moving to Bordeaux, you know, he was coming to the end of this contract at Sunderland, he didn't want to play League 1 football, I totally understand that. But at the same time, there’s this sort of sadness that here's a kid, he's coming through the Sunderland Academy and you sort of think he's one of ours, yeah, okay, he wasn't born here but, you know, he'd been developed by Sunland. And even him, it's not worth fans creating an emotional bond with because, you know, seeing as soon as he shows any promise, he’s off. And I think that's actually really… it's really problematic, it’s really damaging because it makes people cynical. And I think it means that fans are much more likely to be abusive to players. If you have a player he thinks not very good or, you know, he isn't playing well or even trying hard, you know, there's sort of an understanding that, “Well, he's not going to be here in 3 or 4 months, let's… there’s no point in encouraging him and trying to kind of make him feel part of and try and boost his confidence,” there's just a sense of, “Might as well get rid of him.” And so there's this sort of real like transience about everything. And now I think is, you know, it stops people being properly supportive of their players.
Freddy: We started out talking about the beginning of the European Cup in 1955. What kind of cultural meaning has… had it had beyond the game. Do you feel that it has in some point? Football is a European invention if. Where it started and how it started or it was the Florentine game or if it was it England who developed the game the way it is right now, you can argue either way, but it's a European invention more or less. Is it like we needed something to unify after like World Wars and a lot of what I say difficulties in Europe? Is this one point where we could all get together?
Jonathan: Possibly. Actually, I slightly disagree with you that you can argue either way, I think it's English invention and, yeah, you can face things that have been like football that were played, yeah, the culture in Florence or your various games in China or in the Caribbean, but the laws we played by today are the laws that were drawn up by the Football Association in December 1863. You know, there weren’t people from Florence going to Argentina and Uruguay and Russia and, you know, West Africa and teaching them to a culture, they were teaching them to play the English game. So it's… for whatever you can say that these civilizations have a thing that have been like football, football as we know is English.
And, you know, even the sort of the way the football is spread, you know, the vast majority of places got it from the British, and after, they quickly became a form of rebellion against the British. So yes, certainly in Argentina, you know, Argentinians saw their football having 2 births. It has the British birth in the 1890s and then the second birth 1912 when Racing, the first Argentinian Argentinian team wins the title. And you feel in the 1920s this conscious idea of how football should be played and it should be played in a not British way. So like it's a British game, but yeah, it's Europe quickly becomes a center of it and I guess the, you know, the 2 sides of the river plate as well. Is it… you know, is it (unclear) [29:48]? I guess it is in a sense that football is one of a very, very few cultural modes, cultural practices that everybody in the world engages in. You knoe, there's barely a society that doesn't have some concept of football. And, you know, if you go to almost any country, you will see somebody in a football shirt and you’ll start a conversation with them, and that's not 3 words. Almost everything else, it's not too many other sports. Even things like music which you think of as being fairly universal, they're much more different culture to culture than football is; so it's important in that sense. And I guess things like FIFA and UEFA are coming into being roughly at the same time as things like the League of Nations or the UN, there's an idea that there's a need for global or continental bodies. So in that sense, maybe there is this sort of this greater scope that football has. But I think quite often, it’s push people pass as well. You know, I think it's very easy for football to pretend that it's great force for peace, I think is much harder to actually find evidence of where that happened. Much more common is that it gives the people a mode of self-expression or it gives a country a way of garnering self-confidence. So, you know, the first 5 European cups being won by Real Madrid, sponsored by Santiago Bernabéu and he was obviously very connected with Franco's government. So Spain winning the first 5 European Cups through Real Madrid is to an extent a propaganda coup for Spain. They can say, “Look, we're the best in the world, the best in Europe, just the best.” But beyond that, I become slightly uneasy about the claims that often make of football.
Freddy: Yeah, because it's actually a Norwegian invention called handshake for peace where of course the captains shake hands before the game like in a sort of image of being able to create some sort of togetherness despite going into battle a few seconds later. You think there's more just like more or less just an image and not actual truth?
Jonathan: Well, it's certainly true that you get some brilliant games at an incredibly tenure, incredibly toughly contested, and at the end, everybody shakes hands and was clearly a mutual respect is develop during the game. And those are brilliant, but I mean, how often do you see the players shake hands and 30 seconds later, somebody's pulling some these shirt, somebody’s diving, somebody's standing on somebody’s foot, you know, it's tokenistic often. So I don't know. I mean, I guess maybe academics can tell me whether, you know, footballers are bad behaved now when they walk along a line they have to actually look at opponents in the eyes and maybe that does sort of remind them of the opponent's humanity, but I don't know, you still see an awful lot of…
Freddy: Yeah, I do.
Jonathan: … ungentlemanliness and an awful lot of cheating pretty quickly after the handshakes.
Freddy: And maybe you can just put it on the fact that there are like 50 cameras picking up everything, so you have to behave a little bit because it will get picked up somewhere afterwards. So…
Jonathan: Yeah, that's also the problem, you know, you it can be used an excuse that you could… you know, a defender could, you know, kick a forward for 90 minutes and then shake his down at the end and pretend everything's fine. Well, no, you just kicked him for 90 minutes.
Jonathan: You know, that's not fine. They’re pretending the handshake somehow is like absolution in the Catholic Church or something, it's nonsense. So look, it's bad that we shake hands and we don't, but I don't think it suddenly makes everything okay.
Freddy: What is going to happen on June 1st? Is that Liverpool and Tottenham, they will play it out at the new stadium of Atletico Madrid in Madrid? First time that all 4 teams in the European Cup are from the same country, Hans-Eric, why do you think England at this point is the first country to achieve that?
Jonathan: Money of course, the way they set up the academies, they picked the best players from the youth and they're having really good structure on the academies the way I see it. Of course having money to buy the best players, have the… bringing the best managers in. And you were talking a little bit about that earlier on, Jonathan, always… the Premier League has always had the good quality, but now, maybe the best managers also are doing the chess play out on the pitch. And with the money, with the best resources, with academies with the best players and managers, of course you are putting yourself in a good spot to achieve good results. But we have 4 teams playing in Champions League and Europa League final this year, but if you come to mind, Tottenham was literally out of the of the Cup in the group stage, Liverpool were the better team against Napoli of course, but they had a big, big chance almost concede in the end there and then Liverpool would have been out. So it's of course a game of margins and… but if you sum it up, Chelsea and Arsenal has been good this year in the Europa League and of course Tottenham and Liverpool, they are there so they just have to be there.
Freddy: Is there a fluke, Jonathan, or is this an evitable result of the big money managers and players all heading for the Premier League?
Jonathan: Well, I think it's a bit of both. You know, I think the financial power of the English league means that they have more chance of this happening. They have of course, you just said, you know, Tottenham and Liverpool certainly have had moments of luck in the Champions League this season that I think particular Tottenham will feel they maybe haven't had in the past. Tottenham last season should have beaten Juventus and in that game, in the 180 minutes, they were the better team 140 minutes, but in that other 40 minutes, they let in 4 goals, so you know, 20 minutes in both games. So yeah, it's partly that things are falling away this season. But I think there's also it's actually it's not quite as simple as just saying money. So I think if you, you know, I would talk about the super clubs, if you think of it being around about 12 super clubs, exactly you have 2, 2 and a half… okay, let’s say 3 from Spain 1 and a half, 2 from Germany, 1 from France, at the moment, 1 from Italy because Inter Milan can’t get their act together, you have 6 from England. Okay, Manchester United are having a bad season but realistically, in (unclear) [37:38] you have 6 from England. So it's then for England to have this clean sweep because they have 4 or more teams that are level to get to the finals. I think also the fact the Europa League for the first time in a long time, England have 2 teams are actually (unclear) [38:02] competition, yeah Emily the bizarre specialist in the Europa League for the reason that said I understand, but his record in the Europa League is unbelievable. You know, he’s won it 3 times.
And he’s getting another final. And, you know, Chelsea because of other things going wrong, I think they were forced to take it seriously. So, yeah, I think that's an extent explains why the Europa League really for the first time has become something England cares about. And you look at Liverpool and Tottenham and, you know, I was talking before about the specific reasons that specific clubs had underperformed in European competition over the last sort of 6, 7 years, well, I don’t think it’s coincidence that Tottenham… that Pochettino has been there for 5 years. I mean, he's had time to insert his ideas and bring through his players. Klopp’s been at Liverpool for almost 4 years and for again with stability there. So, you know, those reason of holding these teams back before, they've now gone. And then that's a sort of general themes of it. I think there's also something else interesting that’s happened, and I'm not sure this is a good development, but it's definitely something that's changed, which is whenever you managers of English teams in that sort of 6 years when English teams weren't doing well in Europe, and I remember the reason and how particularly saying our English for was.. it's a rat race, it's so aggressive, there’s so many big games, there's 2 couple competitions, the top teams play 45, 50 games a season. By the time it gets to the Champions League quarter-final semi-final, they're exhausted. And I think there was a level of for that, but the nature of English football has changed. And if you look between 2008 and 2018, the number of tackles per game in England has fallen by 26%.
Jonathan: So in 2007, 8, the team made the fewest tackles was Reading and they still made more than Huddersfield who made the most tackles in 2017, 18.
Freddy: So you’re saying football’s changed?
Jonathan: So it’s completely changed. Say?
Freddy: So you're saying football, the style of playing has changed also in Britain that… is that due to all the foreign managers coming in do you think?
Jonathan: Yeah, I think it's partly that, I think it's also economic. And, yeah, another strategy which I think goes hand in hand with the tackles is up to first start collecting this data in 2003, 4, now between 2003, 4 and 2005, 6. So the first 3 seasons they collected the data, there are only 3 Premier League games in total so 1 per season average where 1 team had 70% of the ball or more. This season just finished, there were 67.
Freddy: Oh wow, I think that's…
Jonathan: So I mean, 1 in 6 games or almost 1 in 5 games either thinks for the attack against offense, 1 team sits back…
Freddy: And the other team dominates.
Jonathan: … the other team has the ball.
Jonathan: And that's a different type of football and that I think it's because the rich teams are so much now that, you know, they can dominate. But where England’s different to the other big leagues is it because we have those 6 teams and, “Okay, even if my side are having a bad season then, you know, there's still a biggest team,” it means that there's still each of those big teams has to play 10 big games each season plus, you know, Wolves away Leicester away, Everton away, New Castle away in fairly difficult tricks, whereas in in Spain, they have 4 big games and then a handful of tricky ones. Germany, you have Bayern play Dortmund and pretty much nobody else, you can't really challenge them. Yeah, some difficult away goes, but nothing on our level. And so I think English football a moment that this sort of sweet spot where the players get tested regularly so their skills are tough, but not so regularly that they get tired. And that is not something I think is either easy to control, but it's just something that's happened.
Hans-Erik: I think that's a very interesting point Jonathan in case of the top teams in England, they play most of the games on only one half and the sprints they need to do, the long runs they need to do, the high intensity over many odds, it’s less than they used to do. And I think that's physically, it's a very, very vital point.
Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean and also, you know, English football is still more physical, more aggressive than anywhere else in Europe or any other of the big leagues anyway. So.
Freddy: You can see that against…
Jonathan: I mean, you have to bear in mind this statistics that 2 pure team in Germany and so, you know, each team plays 34 games a season, not 38. But there were I think 25 and a half percent fewer tackles in the Bundesliga this season than in the Premier League.
Freddy: Yeah, right.
Jonathan: So, you know, okay, some of those explained in the fewer games, but not that many fewer games. There’s still, you know, there's English football is still a physical test. And I think you've been able to see that over the last 2 or 3 seasons that Tottenham certain against Dortmund in the first leg, physically they bullied them.
Jonathan: Liverpool against Barcelona and against Bayern, and of course against Porto, they physically dominated them.
Freddy: Yeah, I agree.
Jonathan: Tottenham even last season against Juventus physically dominated them.
Freddy: Yeah, I agree.
Jonathan: And that of course is what English football used to be good at in the late 70s, early 80s. And there I think you have to give credit to Klopp and Pochettino. Jürgen Klopp arrived in Liverpool in October 2015 and he was asked, you know, “Who are your… you know, who are your idols who are the people who sort of influenced your new ideas on football?” and he said of course he's from the (unclear) [44:08] school was very influenced by Sacchi and by Lobanovskyi, but he said that the football really stirred him when he was a kid before what he grew up wanting to play was the football of Liverpool (unclear) [44:17] and Aston Villa, the great English teams of the late 70, early 80s. And to a certain extent, he was restoring through English football the old-fashioned English game. Pochettino as well, he gave a really interesting interview in El Pais 2 weeks ago, and for some reason, he’d just been watching a video of Leeds against Barcelona in the European Cup semi-final in 1975. And Pochettino who you think of, you know, he grew up as a football under Bielsa, he's tactically incredibly flexible, you know, he changes his lineup, his formation way, way more than anybody else in the Premier League.
Freddy: It’s amazing.
Jonathan: And, yeah, what he was talking about was how Leeds had this toughness and this great and this physicality and this determination and to beat this, you know, Barcelona team was (unclear) [45:06] they were a really good Barcelona team and lost to this Leeds team which was on its last legs. It had been a great team, but all the good players were in their 30s. You had Granmer and Giles and Lorimer and… actually maybe Lorimer wasn't, but Eddie Gray were all coming to the end of their careers, but they some have found this energy and this power to win the game. And that seemed to be what stirred Pochettino. But I think you see that in this Tottenham side that even when they're without their best players, even when they seem exhausted, he somehow managed to inspire in them this capacity, this this great will that they still get something out of games.
Freddy: Yeah. I was speaking with the David Moyes just before Christmas and he said that the way Pochettino and the club coaches the team during the trainings and during the weeks, it's absolutely full blown out physicality. And when he is supposed to do the same in West Ham or in Man United or in Everton, he gets the expression of being a dinosaur because that's the old type of British running. But when Pochettino and Klopp does it, is like this is the modern way of football. And he…
Freddy: Yeah, he put it out like it was 2 of the same mechanism .
Jonathan: Yeah, I think that's true. I think there's something psychologically very interesting happened in English football just after the high school ban. So during English clubs have the 5 years when they're not allowed to play Europe, they come back and they find that European football has moved on.
Jonathan: And you have Barcelona beating Manchester United 4-0 in 1994 was a massive shock English football. We sort of knew Barcelona were good and maybe we weren't quite what we had been, but that was still kind of, “Christ, they’re miles ahead.” And that came just after the Euros in 92 when England were absolutely terrible and they failed even to qualify for the World Cup in 94.
Jonathan: So there’s this sort of sense that it's we had to relearn how to play, our way of doing things was old-fashioned. And I think that went hand in hand with the kind of self-disgust that had come from high school, you know, and all the hooligan problems and, you know, the hollers of English football in the late 80s. There was a… you know, we had a real sense, we got to make our game in you. And so, you know, we started looking around for, “Well, we need to find some new way of doing this.” So, you know, first of all you, “Look at IAC’s, they've got no money but, you know, they're getting and they're winning the Champions League ‘95, we're going to be more like IAC's.” And then, you know, 3 years later, it's, you know, Clairefontaine has led France to winning the World Cup, “Oh, we've got to get our own Clairefontaine.” And then that doesn't work so it's, “Well, we got to be more like the Spanish,” which is ridiculous. You kind of…
Freddy: Yeah, yeah.
Jonathan: English players growing up as kids playing on muddy pitches when the weather's cold and there's, you know, where wind is howling across the training pitch, they're never going to be able to play the quick sharp 10 meter passes that you grow up playing in Spain, it’s a totally different environment, you can't suddenly change that. And then it’s all, you know, “Look at Germany, we’ve got be more like Germany,” and actually what we needed was not continuing and a German to come back and go, “No, just go back to the way you used to do it because it worked.” And I think that what you're now seeing is not just Tottenham and Liverpool but even in the national team, and you referred to how good English academies are now, and I think that's absolutely right. I think the changes in the academy system 4 or 5 years ago have really worked.
Freddy: Yeah, yeah.
Jonathan: But there's also, you know, Tottenham and Liverpool are supplying lots of young English players to the national team, and there's this sort of growing confidence in English football that we stopped sort of looking for new ways of doing thing, we sort of saying actually, “Yeah, this is fine, it's working now.” And so I think English football from a national team perspective is in the most exciting place it's been, you know, certainly in my lifetime. And that's… you know, that's a really… that’s something where, you know, the FAA has take credit for what is done with academies but Klopp and Pochettino also have to take credit, and Guardiola as well, you said to him. And I don't think it's coincidence that, you know, when he gets to a league, the whole league seems to improve. You know, it’s like his influence over the league is not just his team, but sort of shows other teams how, “Actually, this might be possible playing this type of very bold, very, very brave fashion football. Maybe that is a way of succeeding.” So, you know, I think the English football at the moment is very fortunate that we have 3 coaches, maybe if you include Sarri in time, it hasn't worked yet, but yeah, at least an imaginative and inventive coach who has a different way of doing things. But England… English football now has these 3 great coaches who are improving the level of their clubs, and with it, the level of English football as a whole.
Freddy: And that has brought 2 teams to the Champions League final. And if we want to talk about that game for a little while, Jonathan, Liverpool against Tottenham, they know each other so well, they've played each other millions of times, but never in the final. What will such an occasion do for that game? Will they be able to put the big location aside and just play their own game you think?
Jonathan: I mean, it’s very difficult to answer you. I think your Liverpool have been in a lot of finals recently and they lost them all, and so you wonder, “Does that start to affect them at some point?” I mean, you can make a legitimate case in each of the finals they've lost under Klopp, maybe not the Europa League final in Sevilla, but even there, like a 50/50 game, had a great experience, team with a very experienced manager against a team that sort of had was just starting to come together. But certainly when they have a lost a final to Manchester City on penalties, they lost to 2-0 to Real Madrid last season when, you know, they were unlucky to lose Salah and unlucky that their goalkeeper had made 2 told mistakes perhaps while playing with a concussion. So, you know, you can't say that they've had some massive collapse in the final, that they suddenly kind of lost their nerve in the final, but it's still 3 defeats in finals under Klopp, that must sort of play on their minds. And Tottenham just haven't been in a final so you don't know how they're going to react. You remember Giorgio Chiellini last year, they’d beaten Tottenham in the Champions League saying, you know, this is the history of Tottenham, they're saying Tottenham team will always lose their nerve. Well, maybe they don’t anymore, you know? What we saw against City against IAC’s with a team that seemed to have incredible self-belief and pull them out… and pulled themselves out of, you know, very, very difficult positions. Maybe in City, they were lucky, you know, if that late goal and counted, you obviously wouldn't be saying that. But, yeah, they needed a goal and they found one off (unclear) [52:59] hip. And you think the old Tottenham wouldn't have done, and certainly old Tottenham wouldn't have scored 3 times in the second half in Amsterdam.
Freddy: Now, they've come back from almost impossible positions. And you watch their game the last time they met Liverpool in the league, Hans-Eric, and you sort of recognized that this is a game between like almost 2 chess players who start out with 1 kind of formation, 1 kind of plan and then Klopp and Pochettino, you know, they alter things during the games and they adapt to each other, they see the weaknesses, they’re very good at like the during game management.
Hans-Erik: And it can be weaknesses on the day because those 2 managers we're talking about here, they are like, they can set up the team in 1 formation and in with 1 strategy in the beginning of the game, and then they see that, “This is not the day this is working so we need to change.” And then the other guy on the touchline, he's like, “Okay, he's doing that, then I need to do this,” and they are playing with each other like on a different level I guess, these 2 guys and then a couple of more. What I was looking at when… and I was seeing that Pochettino has done recently is to start the game with 3 central defenders against IAC’s 2 times and also this game I think was 1st of April or something with the away game against Liverpool in the league. He starts with 3 central defenders. Klopp that suits Klopp’s defensive style, or let me say attacking style because Klopp likes to attack when the opponent's at the ball. So he went the 3 versus 3 with the (unclear) [54:52] against the 3 central defenders. Pochettino’s team didn't find a way out. He switched halftime playing 4-2-3-1, had this wing backs deep in the… on the pitch. And then Klopp switched to 4 over 2, 2 to play 2 central strikers against the central midfielders and to have wingers to cope with the lower wing backs. So it's a game and it's very hard to predict how they're going to start the game, but what we will see is that those 2 can… those 2 managers, they will adapt to the game, they will adapt to the situations, and we’re got to see both Tottenham and Liverpool in various of formations and strategies, I am sure.
Freddy: You've seen this 2 managers leading their teams from the touch line a lot of times, Jonathan. What are the differences and how are they alike?
Jonathan: I think they were like in that they both favor pressing game, they both like the game to go quick, you know, they’re both aggressive in their approach. I think you'd probably say Pochettino is more flexibility, you know, he… you know, Klopp essentially wants to play 4-3-3, he made changes here and there and particularly in games, but essentially, you know, his model is 4-3-3. Pochettino, it's very hard to say what his model is, you know, he switches it all the time. He'd been forced to switch it recently because of all the injuries they've had. I mean, the back 3 that they used in Amsterdam, that was kind of because they were the only fit 11 players they had. You know, they had no midfield at all in that game. And then they had (unclear) [56:42] on the bench and unable to change things, well, they have to chase it. But I think Harry Winks probably will be fit for the final. Harry Kane, is it still a possibility? Though Winks I think actually is the more important of the 2 at the moment just because they're so short on the field, they… his quality, his ability to hold the ball, his ability not to be flustered in the face of the hard pressing you'd expect from Liverpool, I think that could be very valuable. He's one of those players who though he's young and though he’s inexperienced, he seems totally unflappable. You know, he's been brilliant for England, he's really good to Tottenham against Real Madrid last season.
Freddy: Yeah, he was brilliant, he controlled the game.
Jonathan: He’s really… yeah, he's a really high-class footballer of a type that England doesn't normally or don't often produce. So if he is this, and I think the indications are he will be, I think that's a big thing. And that also would allow Eriksson to play slightly further forward. And Ericsson in the last 2 or 3 months maybe hasn't been quite in top form, but then maybe that's because he's have to play slightly deeper. But then Dele Alli’s, you know, come in and done very well playing in that more advanced midfield role. So, yeah, they have a similar concept of the game, but I think I think Pochettino’s a bit more flexible and a bit more prepared to be pragmatic.
Freddy: How do you think it will approach this game? Do you think Liverpool are in many… in most minds the favorites for this game because they've been so good the last couple of months and also because of all the injury problems that Tottenham have? But how do you think Pochettino will attack this game? Do you think he will sit back and hope that… or be on the counter-attack or do you think he will go straight into Liverpool's faces?
Jonathan: I think it's really difficult to tell. I mean, I think you're right that Liverpool of favorites, I mean, partly because I think they finished 27 points ahead of Tottenham in the league.
Jonathan: So, you know, that 27 points is a lot of points. And I know you can say, “Okay, Tottenham lost points towards the end of the season when they began focusing on the Champions League and when they had a lot of injuries.” Bbut still 27 points is a big, big difference. Also, Pochettino and Klopp have played each other 9 times and Pochettino’s only won once.
Jonathan: I think 4 tied, it's not like Klopp’s been totally dominating, but he certainly has a slight edge. So I think you could say it's probably, I don’t know, 55-45 or 60-40 in Liverpool’s favor. But it's really hard to know what Pochettino will do, and I think that's what's so interesting as a coach that he is so flexible. So, yeah, he used the back 3 atAnfield as you were saying, didn't really work in that first half but that doesn't mean he won't do it again. You look at the 2 fullbacks, I think it's… you know, in past season, it was harder to say who his first choice for backs were, but this season, I think it’s really obviously that it's Trippier and Danny Rose. Danny Rose can do anything, you know, you can be a defensive fullback, he can be an attacking fall back, but Trippier kind of has to attack. There's no point playing Trippier and asking him to be defensive fall back. So that I think if is a reason why Pochettino sometimes prefers the back 3, it gives them the security of the extra man that let's Trippier and Rose push forward, but then the fact it didn't work in Anfield maybe feels that's not the way to go though. And, you know, if you're playing into 4-3-3, then Liverpool’s… where the 2 wide men cut inside all the time…
Jonathan: … there is that risk you get caught between these 3. And then, you know, if Salah goes past 2 (unclear) [1:00:36] is suddenly, he’s through on goal. And maybe you can alleviate that by playing, I don't know, Wanyama and Winks deep so you have a sort of a block of 5 there. But, you know, it's Pochettino finds different solutions all the time so it's very, very hard to say, I think.
Freddy: And that's part of the fun that we can sit here and discuss it, and we don't know until June 1st how this is going to play out. I'll say that Liverpool, they have had an incredible season or seasons for that matter, they have taken steps by steps by step. Is this a natural way to proceed that now they're in the final and now they're going to win it? They lost it last year, is it like a normal development to say that this year, they're good enough to take it all the way?
Hans-Erik: It's of course really hard to predict. Klopp has been leading a Liverpool into Champions League campaigns, both times reach the final; last year of course, a little bit unlucky regarding the injury of Salah and the goalkeeper who had seen better days. I think the way he has been setting up his team, he's putting in players in the positions where he felt maybe last year and the year before that he needed to improve, got in the new goalkeeper who's been very good for them, of course van Dijk has been extraordinary. I think we have seen just a fantastic good manager and a really good human being, I will say, putting his dream team into pieces, into work, and now they are in the Champions League final with every opportunity to take it. But of… like we were discussing a little bit earlier, he's been… this is his third final, Champions League final, lost with Dortmund, lost with Liverpool, and in in some ways of course, he will think about that because it's a big hurdle to get over. And he's been coaching Champions League games 69 times, I think it was, or 61… 61 games in Champions League Mr. Jürgen Klopp, and he's been reaching the final 3 times, and that's amazing achievement. Now, with this Liverpool team, he has every chance to lift the trophy at last, but I'm so pretty sure that this Pochettino guy from Argentina will be, yeah, not his nemesis, but he will do everything he can to stop him.
Freddy: If you were Mauricio Pochettino, Jonathan, and you see a start game, you see that front 3 of Liverpool, how do you stop them?
Freddy: You could get very rich if you have this answer.
Jonathan: Yeah, I guess, ideally, you stop the ball getting to them. And so you try and press high and keep the ball high up that into the pitch. But that's really difficult when you got fullbacks who are as aggressive as Alexander-Arnold and Robinson… hello Robertson, yeah, who are better carry the ball, who are so quick on the ball. But then also, you know, you certainly wouldn’t have said this at beginning of the season, but a player that makes a huge difference for Liverpool now is Jordan Henderson.
Jonathan: And that's, you know, I think he… since he moved to the (unclear) [1:04:33] rather than playing the base in the field, so he has a more aggressive role. His energy leading the press helps, but also he's a really good long-range passer. So, yeah, I think you saw this a time against Barcelona that Henderson get the ball and play, you know, a 50 meter pass into the path of Sadio Mané or Salah and, you know, suddenly they're away and the breaks on. And so Liverpool have this great capacity to have… to transfer the ball from back to front very quickly in very different ways, and that makes them very, very hard to play against, you know, they're counter-attacking is very, very dangerous. So yeah, I… okay, the way I would do it is I would play back 3 and I'd also play 2 deep blowing the fielders if Winks sits out. If you play Winks alongside probably Wanyama, although Wanyama we saw wasn't fit, he was a bit injured at the end of the IAC’s game. But assuming that they're fit, I think that's probably on your block of fire to start with. But then, you know, if harry Kane is fit, everything changes, the whole conversation changes because the makeup of the forward line becomes very different. So…
Freddy: After that long injury, do you think…
Jonathan: It’s a combination of… sorry?
Freddy: After that long injury that he's been through, do you think he will be… he might be fit, but do you think he will be a game fit for an occasion like that?
Jonathan: You know, it’s a slightly strange thing because I'm not sure anybody's going to be match fit because they only had 3 weeks without playing.
Jonathan: Yeah. I don't understand why the English League started when it did this season, it could start a week later and it would have finished 2 weeks before the Champions League final. So you go on final day of the season, FA Cup final, Champions League final instead of having extra week in between where, “Okay, we have the playoff finals which is…” you know, it's great that they're going to be the center of attention but it feels slightly odd that the players are going to have had, you know, what 20 days between the final league game and the next game.
Jonathan: Actually they then have only 5 days before the next league starts. So…
Freddy: How are the clubs handing these 3 weeks? Do they play any friendly games or…?
Jonathan: Yeah, they're playing games behind closed doors. So I think both managers gave the players a pretty long break, I think a week off and doing very, very gentle training. And then, you know, they’ll start to build it up again and they'll play behind closed doors games in the sort of final 10 days before the final. And then I guess Kane, if he's… if he has a chance of playing, I guess he plays in one of those games see how it goes. I mean, I think Tottenham have done well enough without him and I think Heung-min Son is playing so well and Lucas Moura is playing so well and Llorente can be used as an option. But if there’s a doubt about Kane, they wouldn't try and force into play. And I think, you know, we saw with Diego Costa the dangers of a player trying to come back too soon and then getting injured 5 minutes in the final when het get that for Atlético against Real Madrid. So I think if Kane plays, they'll be very, very confident if he’s fit. But, you know, I think the fact that it's a 3 week gap, I think that that issue of match fitness actually becomes an issue for everybody, not just somebody returning from injury.
Freddy: And you're the author of the book ‘Inverting the Pyramid’, it's about the history of football tactics. These 2 managers, what are their contributions to football tactics?
Jonathan: Well, Klopp is part of that (unclear) [1:08:25] school, it's people like Remnick who have come out of the same sort, even some (unclear) [1:08:30] but in a much, much more diluted form you'd say sort of comes from that background. So Klopp has definitely led German football in a new direction. The German football for a long, long time was very skeptical of pressing. There's only really the late 90s when Germany accepted these press and, you know, Klopp has clearly taking that on to a totally different level. So Klopp’s important in that regard, and, you know, as I was saying early, in terms of restoring an English style game to the to the English, make us believe that our natural game, if you like, is still… can still be successful. Pochettino I think is really interesting and he's just sort of combination of (unclear) [1:09:14] football, but also, you know, there’s a little bit of Simeone about him when you hear how he talks about game, you know, his obsession with cojones, you know, the way he celebrates by, you know, sort of copying his testicles. You know, that's obviously he thinks is important about the game is a sort of passion, desire. And so to have that fuse with a very astute positional sense, I think it's quite unusual and quite difficult; and if you can do it, then great. I'm not sure he necessarily led the game in a different direction and the way that Klopp has, but I think he's fused 2 quite different approaches to great effect.
Freddy: Yeah, you had the… I watched on YouTube one of where you explain what gegenpressing is and it's a very, what you say, you explain it with drawings and it's very easy to understand. So but how…
Jonathan: Actually, sorry, just… if it's the clip I think it is that’s on Skysport, they've cut it really badly so they missed out half the explanation, so it doesn't really make sense what I say on YouTube. So I really advise you not to look on YouTube at that.
Freddy: Alright, alright.
Jonathan: No, gegenpressing is, you know, literally counter-pressing, if you the translate, it’s or against pressing.
Jonathan: So it's the pressing you do to stop the others from counter-attacking. So when you lose the ball, you know, you press and try and get it back immediately you've lost it.
Freddy: To counter the pressing.
Jonathan: And the reason you do it then is that the player who's won the ball, the act of winning the ball means he's almost certainly taken his eyes down, so yeah, his idea of where players are on the pitch is momentarily imperfect. So he’s taking a moment to reassess whereas passing options are, he's also going to possibly have expended energy winning the ball back, so yeah, he might be… you know, there might be a moment of the momentary fatigue, so he's vulnerable in that moment having just won the ball. And also the chances are that the opposition's beginning to move into their attacking positions and so they're not going to be set defensively. So those are the reasons as well as stopping the counter, that's why you try to win it back as quickly as that. Then they ways you do it, you can go to the man, you can try to shut down his passing angles, yeah, there's various ways of carrying out that for the gegenpressing. So, yeah, that’s what it is and why it’s important.
Freddy: I remember one…
Jonathan: I mean, to be honest, it's not that different to how English football was in the late 70s, early 80s, it's just we called it, you know, closing down the man with the ball. I think it's become more sophisticated now, I think it's more disciplined, I think there's a greater that the whole team moves as a unit than there was then, and I think computer modeling has made… you know, and data analysis and has made it much more precise now than it was before. But it’s essentially that idea of pressing a man with the ball, closing down the man with a ball that's been current in English football and elsewhere for, you know, 40 years or so.
Freddy: One of the problematic things about this is when the opposition manages to play through that pressure and falling back in… and when does the team finish pressing in and fall back? Because I used to play football before and one of the… one of my coaches, he had this one thing that he always told us before he went on that and that was after the first defender is always right. And what he meant by that is, if the first defender decides to go to press, then the rest of the team has to react accordingly to that. If the first defender slightly is out of place or if he for some reason doesn't press, then then that means that that thing is right there and then so everybody has to fall back. But you almost never see any of these teams just directly fall back there. And Liverpool, they go straight at you at any which point, but how do the Tottenham cope and how can they play through that pressure?
Jonathan: It's very difficult. I mean, yeah, there's no easy way of doing it. I think the only thing you would say is that Tottenham alongside Liverpool and City are the best team in England and, you know, they the 3 best at pressing. So Tottenham will do that to Liverpool. So I think the game is unlikely to have long spells of sustained possession, I think it will be a lot of pressing. The game might be quite disjointed maybe, but at a great pace. And I think that's all we've seen in the League games between the sides that, you know, they press each other, they make it very difficult for each other. And so the game very rarely falls on the type of rhythm you get with City where, you know, they control the ball, you know, 67% of the time. I think it will be very to and fro, it'll be quite old-fashioned in that sense. But that's when players like Harry Winks who are very good in possession, who are very good at playing on the half turn, who are very good at sort of maintaining an idea of the pitch and where players are on the pitch. If they can maintain that in their heads, that's where, you know, they becomes so important.
Freddy dos Santos: It'll be a battle. And that midfield battle will always be so important for the outcome of the game. And, Hns-Eric, how do you see those 3 players playing in midfield for Liverpool versus maybe the 2 and then 1 in front for Tottenham? Who will win that battle and why?
Hans-Erik: That's almost impossible to predict. I'm quite sure of both Pochettino and Klopp will know where the space are when they win the ball. But if they can cope with dealing with it out on the pitch during those 90 or 120 minutes, I'm not sure. I remember Klopp once told that his playmaker, his number 10 was the gegenpressing and more… or not more or less, but in in a good way, Pochettino also uses winning back as quickly as possible as a very important tool for him. So we know the midfielders of Liverpool's going to press, I guess Hendersons is going to play. And to you, Jonathan, I think Henderson finally turns out to be the player he showed that in Sunderland. And Wijnaldum, Fabinho is going to play and those guys, they can run all day. And the Tottenham guys, they know that they will never have 1 spare second to think so they need to know where to go with the ball and they will have to accept that they don't succeed every time and they need players to be absolutely sure of that, “A mistake can happen and we have to respond immediately.” And for me, this game also can go down to the wire and I think every player will give everything they have, and maybe the result will be… yeah, I think we have to wait a long, long time in that game to get the… to know the result.
Freddy: So, Jonathan, do you think this game will be… how will it be decided? Will it be a personal mistake? Will it be down to tactical point of view? Will it be the one team having more energy or what do you think will be the key points?
Jonathan: Well, I think energy sort of is taken out of the equation. If the game had been played 2 weeks ago, Liverpool had a massive advantage in terms of energy. Tottenham looked exhausted, they had a 3 week break so, you know, both teams should be fresh, which creates its own problems. You know, they're not… you know, they their rhythm has been broken. Yeah, it's going to be close. I can't see either side winning by more than 2 goals. I mean, you say that of course it could be a red card or, you know, 1 team could suddenly score 2 or 3 goals late on when the other team’s chasing an equalizer. But I think fundamentally, it will be a tight game, so then yeah, it could be a mistake like the Luis mistake in the league game. It could be a moment of brilliance, you know, it's… you know, it could just be some attritional process by which 1 team comes out on top. But, you know, I really can't see it being… it's not going to be 3-0 at half-time…
Jonathan: … I mean, it might be, it’s football (unclear) [1:18:26]
Freddy: And that's great about this game. Jonathan, I was so happy that you could join us today for this podcast we have. We have bought a few of your books, ‘Inverting the Pyramid’, and we have a competition on our Facebook side which is for politics. If you go in there, you might win one. Unfortunately, you’re in England and we're here so we can't get them signed. But maybe on another occasion we can arrange that as well. What is sure is that on Saturday the 1st of June, we'll have a great time watching the game. Are you going?
Jonathan: Yes, I’ll be there, yeah.
Freddy: I'm in Barcelona that weekend, but I don't have a ticket for the game so I'll be watching it on this big screen in Barcelona instead. Thank you for joining us Jonathan, it was a pleasure having you and you always have a lot of interesting things to say about football.
Jonathan: Sure, thank you, it’s been a pleasure.
Freddy: Thank you very much, I'll just end this in the Norwegian. Thanks to all the listeners who have maybe come from England to listen to this because normally, we have this podcast only in Norwegian.