An Open Letter to Jorge Valdano

Dear Mr. Valdano,

As a diehard Liverpool supporter, I want to thank you for your recent input on the recent Champion’s League semi-final between my beloved Reds and Chelsea Football Club.

Allow me to quote you: (from

‘Football is made up of subjective feeling, of suggestion – and, in that, Anfield is unbeatable. Put a shit hanging from a stick in the middle of this passionate, crazy stadium and there are people who will tell you it’s a work of art. It’s not: it’s a shit hanging from a stick…’

‘Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest, most exaggerated example of the way football is going: very intense, very collective, very tactical, very physical, and very direct.

‘But, a short pass? No. A feint? No. A change of pace? No. A one-two? A nutmeg? A backheel? Don’t be ridiculous. None of that. The extreme control and seriousness with which both teams played the semi-final neutralised any creative licence, any moments of exquisite skill.’

Those are certainly some harsh words. Usually, I’d dismiss this as the drunken ramblings of an old man who was paid to play and not to think, but coming from a former World Cup winner with Argentina and a Real Madrid legend, maybe this condemnation deserves more thoughtful consideration. Allow me to address my several concerns about your dissertation.

Firstly, let me comment on your feelings toward Anfield. Can the atmosphere be crazy? I would certainly hope so. Anfield has a well-deserved reputation as being a tough place to play, not just for English teams but various European teams. Year in and year out, European teams admit what a fantastic venue Anfield is ahead and after their visits in the Champion’s League. I understand you haven’t been there in awhile, because it’s been a few years since Real Madrid advanced very far in the CL, but that’s an understandable mistake.

As for the fans cheering on ‘a shit hanging from a stick’ and declaring it art? Well, you’ll have to excuse those silly Scousers. They just don’t know how to properly act at a match. They don’t understand what football is really about. Obviously, they aren’t as refined as your Spanish fans. No, fans in England really come up short when compared to the sophisticates in Spain, with all their intelligent Continental racial abuse and the hateful monkey sounds echoing through the stadia each time a player of color touches the ball.

I have to admit, Spanish fans are more knowledgeable. They wouldn’t cheer for that shit on a stick because it’s darker in color and unworthy of their applause. Unfortunately, such witty racism isn’t as widespread in the Premiership, but I suppose there’s still hope. There are certainly a few idiots in every English stadium. One can only hope that the minority will grow to incredible numbers that Spain can presently brag about.

As for the present state of English football, words like ‘intense’, ‘collective’, ‘tactical’, and ‘physical’ are all quite true. You’ve hit the nail on the head once again. While the English national team has made wonderful strides in ridding their game of intensity, tactics, playing as a collective team and giving it their all on the field, that same type of work ethic has not yet made it to the Premiership.

You’ll have excuse our players for not being whiny, diving sissies who go to ground the second they feel a defender breathe on their neck. No, the English game is marred by numerous players who insist on working hard and are not afraid of getting dirty in the heat of battle. Too often, they are focused on doing whatever they can for their team, regardless of aesthetics. Many of them just want to win, no matter how ugly the game. While this is quite embarrassing, there are some imports currently plying their trade in the league who practice the type of selfishness and general douchebaggery that you hold in such high regard.

Obviously, the Premiership suffers from a complete lack of skill as you’ve pointed out. Hopefully more clubs will try to follow the lead of your former club, Real Madrid, where you were recently employed as Sporting Director. We can only pray to God that more English clubs like Liverpool and Chelsea fall into such disarray that they change managers every six months and presidents every two years, and throw the club into such turmoil that they don’t win a meaningful trophy for years. Ideally, they should aspire to become a joke in the European competition they used to be feared in and watch their chief rivals win the league year after year.

But you see, Liverpool are making strides. In fact, they’re half-way there. Having won their 5th European Cup in 2005, they are once again in the final this year. Should they win it for a 6th time, they’ll be perfectly positioned to start buying players solely for the names on the back of their shirts, which they’ll market wonderfully and sell a shit load of merchandise. Hopefully, this will allow them to further assemble a squad of very recognizable names, just like at the Bernabeu, which will be completely incapable of playing like a team.

Would it be possible to have you come to England and apply your Midas touch to our top clubs? If you were to put into practice the very policies that has made Real Madrid such a well-oiled machine over the past few seasons, I can only imagine the dramatic metamorphosis that such a style of management might generate at Manchester United or Arsenal. The sky would truly be the limit.

Please consider it, Senor Valdano.

Until then, go fuck yourself.

Sincerest Regards,



2 Responses to “An Open Letter to Jorge Valdano”

  1. 1 YNBA May 10, 2007 at 1:29 am

    Do you listen to the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast? They spend quite a while this week talking about the Valdano article, and it’s pretty interesting. (I like them in general as well, particularly Sid Lowe.)

  2. 2 beingsven May 10, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Can’t say I have. I’ll give it a look/listen. The only Liverpool podcast I listen to is the MP Red, plus Soccernet’s for general purposes.

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