The beautiful game has its beautiful trends. After a major triumph at a tournament, the victors path to the prize is examined and scrutinized over as theorists attempt to distill like scientists in a laboratory the magic formula to success. Clubs across the world then attempt to mimic and adopt the so called magic formula hoping for similar successes.
We’ve seen the world go crazy for the ‘Spanish way’ after their domination at the end of the last decade based on possession and combinations. Before this we saw the ‘Dutch’ way, which was about fluidity and freedom with individual flair. Now perhaps are we in the midst of the ‘German’ way? A blend of the best of the Dutch in a Spanish context?
The point is that trends come and go, and no organisation should just base their whole playing philosophy by identifying with a trend without taking the time to think about what makes them who they are first and foremost.
Identifying with a trend and applying principles from it to form part of your philosophy is what one would be inclined to do either when beginning their operations, such as a new grassroots club, or it may be something an existing organisation attempts to do when going through a downturn. Whichever moment brings about the discussion of philosophy, its important that our own identity and values remain at the forefront of our discussion and not the trending philosophy in question.
Our values and principles are what make us unique and distinguishable from the competition not the trending philosophy we adopt. What’s the difference between values and philosophy? Values are the standards of behaviour we stand by and the philosophy is the theory that guides them. So yes, it’s important we identify with a philosophy that we believe in and admire, but only so it can be a conduit for the club’s values to play out in action seamlessly generation by generation.
Think of the great club sides around the world, and it is pretty clear who you’re watching.
You don’t need the colour of the kit, or an indicator in the corner to inform you of who Barcelona are for example. They have a very distinct set of playing values that bare out regardless of what formation is being used by the manager of the day with his own personal philosophy. Whether its Guardiola, Martino or Enrique, certain things will show up time and time again. These are the playing values.
Question is then, can any club aspire to be appear so entrenched in their values that they become living metaphors of them?
I truly think so. I think if a club at any level really hones in on it’s core and examines its values, realizing just how important they are a guiding philosophy just becomes the driver with the values becoming the vehicle. This metaphor means whatever coach comes and goes and which ever philosophical trend gets adopted the standards remain authentic to the club.
So there we have it. Jump a trend if you must, but prioritize your values first!
What do we think? Perhaps your club is going through or has just adopted a recent change. I’d love to hear from you.