An old Brazilian man, Joao, was talking to his grandchild, Kaio, about the 1970 World Cup, and his memories of the greatest football team he had ever seen.
“Brazil’s triumph that year was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope”, explained Joao. “It was for all the people of this country, and achieved by all the players from one to 11, but when I look at it in hindsight, I can only see the one man – Pelé.
“The people wanted the victory, and the other ten players in the team were determined to make it happen, but without him, without Pelé, it would have been Italy who took the cup back to Europe.
“Had he been Italian, or West German, or Uruguayan, then any of those three would have been the champion that year. And this, Kaio, is what I believe about football: the talent of the individual is more important than the struggle of the collective. If you are lucky enough that Pelé, or Puskas, or Maradona, or Messi, happened to be born in your country, then you only need ten other mortals – or, in these days, a squad of them, for immortality to be conferred on all of them alike.”
“Respectfully, grandfather, I disagree with you,” said Kaio, “for we are discussing football here, and not a singles tennis match.
“If I am playing tennis, singles, and my attributes are superior to those of my opponent – my forehand is better, my backhand is better, I hit the lines better, and I am better at predicting where the ball is going – then I’ll win, unless I start to get complacent.
“But as soon as the single tennis match turns into doubles, everything changes. Teamwork comes into it, because the guy who has joined up with my singles opponent is able to block the shots down the line which were causing so many problems before. If I start trying to catch them out with the lob, one of them is there to blast it straight back.
“And football is like that, but elevenfold instead of twofold. There are ways to stop Pelé, because he is only one of the collective.”
“Are we talking football, or tennis?” growled Joao, good-naturedly.
“We are talking about the power of the collective as compared to the power of the individual”, said Kaio, “and you can see it in doubles tennis, in football, and in society as a whole. Collective organisation, with a plan, will always beat even the greatest genius acting alone.”
“But nobody stopped Pelé!” protested Joao. “Or, for that matter, Maradona in 1986!”
Kaio looked sadly at his grandfather: “But they did manage to stop Messi. German premeditation kept him quiet in the 2014 World Cup final, and Messi didn’t win.”
Joao waved his hand dismissively. “For every Messi or Ronaldo who failed to win the World Cup, there’s a Pelé or a Maradona who did.” And the discussion continued, unabated.
Falsenine.co.uk – a new Football Manager resource – intends to resolve this central question of Joaoism versus Kaioism, and more besides, in order to help you become a better all-round player. Look forward to extensive testing of different tactics and training systems, number crunching, insight into the transfer market, and readable, entertaining narrative, as we go on a journey together, from the depths of the amateur leagues, to who knows what heights?