Blog posts July 11 - 18

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Show the thing (July 18)

"He was initially greeted with suspicion and, when various local coaches complained about his lack of fluency in German, the German FA asked Hogan to prove himself by delivering a lecture without a translator. It began badly, as Hogan inadvertently presented himself as ‘a professor of languages, not a master of football’, and got steadily worse. Attempting to stress the importance of the mind in football, he told his bemused audience that it was a game not merely of the body, but also of the committee. Faced with laughter and derision, Hogan called for a ten-minute intermission and left the stage. When he returned, he was wearing his Bolton Wanderers kit. He removed his boots and his socks and, telling his audience that three-quarters of German players could not kick the ball properly, smashed a right-footed shot barefoot into a wooden panel fifteen yards away. As the ball bounced back to him he noted the value of being two-footed and let fly with another shot, this time with his left foot. This time the panel split in two. His point proven, Hogan undertook a lecture tour."

Inverting the Pyramid

Trees for cities (July 17)

Not the human voice (July 16)

Compare / contrast

(Not the most important things about these posters, I know. I'm just being picky. But they're good examples.)

What and why (July 15)

Language (July 14)

"We have no plans to do X" = "We are going to do X"

New ways to do talks (July 13)


June 2021 (July 12)

An explanation if you're new here. For some reason I do these 1-second-every-day videos every month. And I set aside a few hours every month to make a piece of music, which I stick on top. This, slightly late, is June's. And the track is called Believes.

Should you wish to examine my entire oeuvre you can listen on bandcamp or spotify

Blog all dog-eared pages: Inverting the pyramid (July 11)

"Knowledge, the young Bielsa learned, was something to be treasured; information something to be collected and categorised. ‘I am a student of football,’ he said. ‘I watch videos, read, analyse, but beneath all my technical talk the great principle is not to concede too much space.’ He subscribes to ‘over forty’ international sports magazines. He has a collection of thousands of videos and DVDs. When he turned up for his interview with Vélez Sarsfield in 1997, he brought fifty-one videos with him to explain his ideas to the club’s directors. When he took the job there, he insisted on an office with a computer with the capacity to take screenshots from videos – something that was revolutionary at the time. Once, when asked how he planned to spend the Christmas and New Year holiday, Bielsa explained that he intended to do two hours of physical exercise each day and spend fourteen hours watching videos."

"When he took the Argentina job in 1998, he decided, based on his experience in Mexico with Club América, a team owned by TV executives, that he would give no one-on-one interviews. He wanted the smallest provincial paper to have the same access as the biggest multinational television station and so decided to deal with the media only through press conferences. Given he would take questions from anybody and would answer in great and labyrinthine detail, his press conferences often went on for several hours but, having reached his conclusion as to what was fair, he maintained the practice."

"His philosophy, he said, could be broken down to four terms: ‘concentración permanente, movilidad, rotación y repenitización’. The first three are relatively easy to translate – permanent focus, mobility and rotation; the fourth, though, is a classic Bielsa term. In music, repenitización means the playing of a piece without having practised it first: it’s not extemporisation as such in that it involves sight-reading, and yet in football it clearly has some sense of improvisation. It carries a note of urgency, too. In a sense it’s the key to the whole Bielsa philosophy: it demands players repeatedly do things for the first time, a paradox that perhaps suggests the glorious futility of what he is trying to achieve. ‘The possible is already done,’ Bielsa said during his time at Newell’s. ‘We are doing the impossible.’"

"‘In the pause,’ the columnist Ezequiel Fernández Moores wrote in La Nacion, quoting a phrase common in the blues tradition of Argentina, ‘there is no music, but the pause helps to make the music.’"

(This, by the way, is backed up by science:

During communication, electric fish occasionally pause electric signal production

Pauses allow sensory neurons to recover from short-term synaptic depression

Pauses allow receiving fish to recover from behavioral habituation

Pauses increase sensitivity to communication signals that follow the pause)

"He went on to recount an anecdote about Charles Mingus walking into a bar to see an impetuous young drummer attempting a frenetic solo. ‘No,’ Mingus said, ‘it’s not like that. You have to go slowly. You have to say hello to people, introduce yourself. You never enter a room shouting. The same is true of music.’"

"‘That Ajax team always gave me the impression that they tried to and could do all of the following: play, sacrifice themselves as a team, shine individually and win games,’ Guardiola said. ‘All the players of different quality, without exception, were aware of their mission on the field of play. They demonstrated a tactical discipline and enormous capacity to apply all of that at just the right time.’"

"The essence of Guardiola’s philosophy was simple. ‘In the world of football there is only one secret: I’ve got the ball or I haven’t,’ he said. ‘Barcelona have opted for having the ball although it is legitimate for others not to want it. And when we haven’t got the ball we have to get it back because we need it.’"

"It is a truth – hinted at by Menotti’s dictum that the point of training is to increase the speed at which a team can be precise – that seems written in the internal rhythms of football: each new form is developed and modified, made faster, until it reaches a maximum pace at which a new innovation arises to replace it."

Inverting the pyramid