It’s cost us about £3,000 each and we’ve both been sacked from our jobs, but that doesn’t matter because we’re going to crack on with implementing the newest tactical innovation in football. As you might have read on these pages previously, it’s a perfect blend of running, tackling, beards and occasional headers that may as well have been designed for the English game. Just look at these hallmarks.
Pride? Check. Beards mean pride. Just ask illustrious beardies the world over. Like ZZ Top. Or Hashim Amla. Also, if you’re going to be running about a lot you need to be bloody proud of it because there’s precious little to recommend the idea otherwise.
Passion? Check. Show us someone who isn’t passionate about beards and we’ll probably have to admit there’s more to the world than North London, a lesson which [SATIRE KLAXON] the current Labour Party leadership would do well to pay attention to. Also, if you’re going to be running about a lot you need to be bloody passionate about it because there’s precious little to recommend the idea otherwise. Loads of things have been won just by really caring about them, as you’ll remember from Andy Murray only becoming good once he had cried in front of some posh people.
Belief? Check. This is one of those philosophies you really have buy in to, involving as it does an average of six touches of the ball every game, with only one of them being a pass (and God help you if it’s more than that) and one every four touches being a header. The rest are tackles. Or clearances. Into touch. Clearances into touch are the new switching it out to the opposite fullback and will be met with the same polite applause, as if to acknowledge some semi-cerebral activity has just taken place when in reality anyone could do it.
Anyway. Pride. Passion. Belief. All key ingredients in this most innovative of philosophies, itself a potent mixture of statistics, intuition and creativity. Are you ready?
We’re going to draw every game. When translated to the Premier League, this is 38 points. Basically 38 points is more than likely enough to keep you up and a goal difference of zero is essentially an extra point. It might not be the magic ’40-point’ mark we hear of every season but 39 points saw Sunderland safe in 17th place last season and their manager is being touted for the England job. In fact, 38 points with a goal difference of zero would have seen you come in at 16th, while in the 2014-15 season you’d have done even better – 14th and feet up by April. A nice 38 points would have you safe in 16 of the 21 seasons in which the Premier League has had 20 teams.
So how are we going to do it?
We’re playing 5-5-0, which is very fluid (we’re not idiots) and can easily become an 8-3-0 when out of possession, which is effectively all the time. Because we draw every game either 0-0 or 1-1, invariably involving a set piece, we are never favourites with the bookies, which allows us to de facto cede possession every game because we are always the underdogs. Six touches each, remember. A defensive midfield that specializes in the new fans’ favourite, the clearance into touch. Somewhere around the halfway line preferably, so we’re no vulnerable to long throws. Which we won’t be, because one in every four touches is a header.
With TV money basically rendering prize money completely irrelevant, and THIS BEING A RESULTS BUSINESS REMEMBER, finishing on average 17th every year should ensure we remain on course for yet another triumph. Rather like Arsenal’s Invincibles, we will go down in history, but unlike the Invincibles, no one will ever go out of their way to watch us. Or will they? Because from a 5-5-0 and a £60m transfer war chest from the Sky money, we could buy one skillful lad and one fast lad and switch to a 5-4-1 and then the sky’s the limit. And because 5-4-1 occasionally looks like a 4-3-3, we will probably be hailed for our tactical flexibility. You’re welcome, Sunderland fans.
Now we know ‘difficult to beat’ is usually code for ‘really fucking boring’, but as we keep being told, no one cares if you’re winning. Well, we won’t be winning, but we won’t be losing either. And that is now statistically way more than half the battle.