Football Diary
by Patrick O’Connor

WILL tikki-takki be the legacy of the 2010 World Cup?

Tikki-takki (or tiki-taki as it is sometimes written) is the word describing the intricate, closing passing possession football favoured by World Cup winners Spain and also top European club side Barcelona.



Many pundits feel that the 2010 tournament has spelt the death-knell for the 4-4-2 system, certainly for international and leading club teams. England’s tactics proved to be dreadfully outdated as they found themselves outnumbered and overrun in midfield.  Teams are opting for one central striker with a five man midfield providing support as and when appropriate.  Some observers claim this can be a negative option  but when implemented properly it can be devastating. If one wanted to be picky about Spain, it could be argued that they ought to have a greater goals return.

The big question is will Spain’s success prompt teams in England to try and follow suit?

The Football League programme in England kicks off on August 7 with the Premier League following a week later.

Outside the Premier League and a few Championship clubs, most teams in England play a rigid 4-4-2, normally with two wingers and two central strikers, who are often 6ft plus and full of powerful running.  That’s  the way the game has always been played and supporters in general demand fast, attacking, pacy football with plenty of goalmouth action. And in the middle of an English winter, it’s what gets you leaping off your seat and keeping warm!

But World Cups often influence coaches and new ‘fads’ follow in their wake.

The team I support, Championship side Derby County, could well try to introduce a bit more ‘tikki-takki’ into their play.  The former Dutch international Johnny Metgod is on their coaching staff and was part of the Netherlands’ scouting unit in South Africa, watching forthcoming opponents and providing tactical advice.  Derby possess in Kris Commons and the young Pole, Tomasz Cywka, two players capable of playing in the hole behind a solitary striker. It will be interesting to see if Metgod’s experiences in South Africa have an influence on how Derby operate this season.

Whether tikki-takki filters down to the lower divisions remains to be seen. In the hurly-burly of League One and Two, it will take a brave coach to go for possession football with players less technically gifted.  One can imagine a frustrated fan watching Stockport County  tikki-takki around on a cold January night at mud-splattered Edgeley Park yelling: “Get it forward!”

On the whole I enjoyed the World Cup, it was as colourful and vibrant as its South African backdrop and the general opinion was the best team won.

Outstanding moments were the individual displays of Kaka, Messi, Forlan and the entire Spanish midfield plus the gutsy, backs-to-the wall performance of New Zealand in somehow holding the mighty Italy to a 1-1 draw.  However, it really did stick in my throat to read that fans missed the semi-final between Spain and Germany because of airport congestion.

According to the BBC, Durban’s King Shaka Airport turned away flights after an increase in private jets took up all its landing slots.

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) blamed VIP jets for making five flights – carrying approximately 700 fans – late by not moving after landing, therefore blocking landing space for the other planes.

ACSA chief executive Monhla Hlahla told a local radio station that “priority had to be given to VIPs who were caught up in the situation”, adding that Fifa planes were allowed to land before commercial flights. Shame on you Fifa!

Mind you, at least one intrepid South African got the better of them. According to the Independent newspaper, a vendor risked the wrath of the footballing authority by printing a T-shirt with the slogan FICK FUFA. The paper reported that he sold out in minutes before being chased off by police.

Finally, one wonders how many grounds will resound to the sounds of vuvuzelas when the big kick-off comes round on August 7?

Until then it’s time to have a short rest from football, we all it deserve it!