Is Mr Wenger Wrong Over Throw In Rules? by Dan Smith
Everyone knows the love and respect I have for Arsene Wenger. He’s always been a bit of a romantic, someone with a belief that football should be played a certain way. The thing with any creative mind though is you often need a filter.
Unfortunately for Mr Wenger, instead he’s FIFA Head Of Global Football. Meaning he works for a governing body who every few months feel the need to change some rule to justify their salaries. Laws such as, one person can kick off instead of two. A change for the sake of change that has no bearing on the quality of the product.
So, our former manager’s next brainwave is changing the criteria over thrown ins – when matches reach their last 5 minutes. I say change, he wants to simply take them away, instead teams can kick it back to each other!
Arsene told Marca: “Five minutes before the end, a throw-in for you should be an advantage, but in these situations you are facing 10 outfield players in play, whilst you only have nine,”
“Stats show that in eight out of ten of those throw-in situations, you lose the ball. In your half of the pitch, you should have the possibility to take a kick instead.”
As far back as 1863, the FA has had legislation for the ‘throw in’ (in 1875/76 the Sheffield FA did fail in having the option of a kick written into law). Obviously there have been adaptations over how to throw the ball, yet it’s been part of the sport for so long that if it’s not broken, why fix it?
Well, Mr Wenger insists that statistics prove that offensive teams rarely benefit from the scenario, saying that if you’re chasing a goal, 8 times out of 10 you will lose possession from a throw in due to the opposition having 10 men behind the ball compared to your 9 (you have one less player that is now throwing the ball).
I appreciate the Frenchman always wanting to put emphasize on attack as that’s entertaining, yet there’s also an art to defending as well. If a team is in a position where they are strategically knocking the ball out of play isn’t that because they have earnt that right by getting to 85 minutes in the lead or on level terms?
If a manager’s tactic is to now park the bus and try to just defend set pieces, isn’t that part of game management?
If you’re in a situation where with seconds to go you are frustrated that a throw in is not helping you keep the ball, then that means for the majority of that 90 minutes you’ve done something wrong!
Isn’t that the point. Finding new ways to overcome various styles and to react to how that game unfolds?
It’s getting to a point where we don’t want footballers to think for themselves.
Just because you want offensive football and goals are prettier on the eye then hoofing a ball into touch, you can’t manufacture things, it has to be organic.
With how VAR is implemented, it feels like you’re trying to take defending away. If you make the game easier for attack but not defence the game loses its integrity.
Think of an underdog in the FA Cup. Some work on set pieces. Maybe kicking the ball out and heading away every throw in is their best chance of winning? You can’t change the rule just to help the attacking team.
Don’t get me wrong, Mr Wenger has a brighter mind then me. The Frenchman did so much to revolutionize the game in this country and he can use his brain for better use, as there are aspects in football that do need resolving.
I’m just not sure the art of ‘the throw in’ is one of them?