Monday, October 31, 2011
A Dying Breed?
Pep Guardiola, the fantastic trainer of Barcelona, and once their midfielder was asked once a few years ago why he retired, and he felt it was because his role as a passing, deep-lying playmaker role at central midfield was simply a dying breed, and that he was no longer needed at the highest level, "The emphasis, as far as central midfielders are concerned, is all on the defensive work, " he said before adding that "players like me have become extinct." Guardiola went on to say that twenty years ago, players like him were valued, and clubs appreciated a playmaking, distributing central midfielder, but that times have changed, and teams now look for defensive, athletic midfielders that can disrupt an offense. The only player Guardiola mentions as being the exception to the rule, is Andrea Pirlo, who at that time reigned supreme at Milan. The football world is changing again, with the playmaking midfielders are being embraced again, and it is no wonder that Pirlo still reigns supreme in that role. Milan prematurely got rid of Pirlo in the summer, preferring the young, athletic, defensive minded midfielders like Kevin-Prince Boateng or Alberto Aquilani, but Milan is regretting that move already. At Juventus, Pirlo has shown that his passing range is still there, and when needed to be can still disrupt an offense without being overly aggressive, like for example his old partner Rino Gattuso. It's players like Guardiola, Pirlo, and others such as Mazzone that have kept that dream alive, of central midfielders that don't need pace or to be a tackler, and instead can be a creator, a ballplayer, and beautiful. It's so ironic that Pep Guardiola embodied the same characteristics of Andrea Pirlo when he was a player, displaying an incredible mix of vision, calmness, and passing ability, and maybe that is why he speaks so highly of him now.