Early Doors

Tactics Bored: The finer nuances of celebrating a goal

Happy Christmas!

I cooked my turkey to perfection, at 423.1 centigrade for 90 minutes. I’m sure you didn’t do it as well as I did, but tactics experts are a different breed.

That’s why it’s time for you to get back to the homework I’m giving you today, because football is about learning and maths, it is not about soul or pleasure.

You must work hard to keep within touching distance of me, as I bound into the future of assuredness, insight and talent. You might still be stuck applauding those who don’t know the best action to take when they pass from a distance of 25-35 yards from goal, but I’m castigating them from my bedroom.

2014 is a new year, though, and we will make our progress together, inexorably linked. You will not get rid of tactical analysis. Please read my research below, and see if you can finally understand. I’m so lonely.



There are a few key tactical points that come to celebrating a goal. Some of them are quite obvious, but there are some that will give your side an advantage, and there are others that will harm your side in the short term and longer term.

Here is a handy analytics guide to the art of celebrating:

- When you win a game, shout nationalist slogans into a microphone to whip the crowd up into a frenzy - do not do this.

- When you score a goal, take your shirt off and get booked, possibly causing a suspension - not as bad as the nationalist slogans but probably not wise.

- Make a gesture heavily associated with antisemitism and do not apologise when questioned - this is very stupid and bad indeed, tactically a very bad move.

- Wheel away, right arm raised - depending on the angle of the arm, you will either look like a fascist, or worse, Alan Shearer. Do not do this.

- Pretend to snort cocaine off the byline markings - basically fine, as long as there isn’t any cocaine, but you’ll still end up banned. Counter-intuitively, it’s a bad celebration, tactically.

The rule of thumb here is fairly obvious, but players repeatedly get caught out by the difficult decision to make. The key point to remember is: "If my celebration could invoke racist sentiment or appear racist, then I shouldn’t do it."



We’ve all heard of tactical fouls. A tug on the shirt at a corner, the hack on the halfway line to prevent a counter-attack; they’re ugly, but a necessary part of the game to get whatever advantage is open to you.

There’s now a new strain - kicking players with a reputation for diving, because nobody cares about them anymore.

Adnan Januzaj, Ashley Young and Luis Suarez have all become known for their diving abilities over the past few seasons. Suarez and Young, in particular, have made an obvious habit of hurling themselves to the ground with the slightest provocation - or no provocation at all in some cases - in order to persuade the referee that he should award their team a penalty.

Referees have identified this and now clearly treat Young and Suarez’s claims for fouls with greater suspicion that they would the average player, and so the two are often fouled without the referee given any sanction at all.

Indeed yesterday, Suarez was kicked up in the air by Samuel Eto’o, and should have had a penalty. Because he launched himself almost into orbit to exaggerate the foul, it meant Howard Webb ignored his claims.

So, there is a tactical advantage for other teams - identify a player with a reputation for diving, and kick him as many times as you want. Expect to see other teams exploit Jose Mourinho’s new trend - an entirely new type of 'free kick', if you will.



Tactics are often difficult for the less able among you to understand. New developments come and go, with only a few of them picked up by the ‘lamestream’ media. The False Nine, an obvious example, was grasped by a handful of readers and bloggers, but often us tactical experts save the real gems for our private parties.

Just us, a PowerPoint presentation, and hot, uncensored tactical analysis of right-backs and overrated diagonal crossfield passes hosted on our own private Vimeo channels. Here’s a Christmas treat, a gift to bring in the New Year: the inverted shot.

A kind of double bluff, lulling the opposition into a false sense of security, Olivier Giroud has perfected this in macro and microcosm. His inverted shot against Newcastle was a textbook example:

Now, when he starts playing and taking routine chances as if he were good enough to be first-choice striker for Arsenal, defenders are going to be absolutely dumbfounded.

That he’s been pretending to be an average footballer without competition for his place for two years just demonstrates his commitment to the inverted goal. This is all part of his plan to emulate Tom Cleverley as the archetypal False Footballer.



A lot is talked of the dietary changes that have revolutionised football in England since Arsene Wenger came over in the mid-’90s. Ever since then, beer has been excluded as a pre-match hydration aid, and complex and simple carbohydrates have been used in tandem to provide sustained and instant calories to fuel the athletic bodies of the modern footballer.

Andre Villas-Boas was meticulous in his attention to detail - with the exception of how to treat people at risk of concussion - and this extended to the food. Because of his lack of personal skills, and other mistakes, he was sacked by Spurs and replaced by Tim Sherwood.

Sherwood has again revolutionised diet in the Premier League. He has introduced cheese, and lots of it. Not just any cheese, but just mild cheddar. Mild cheddar is delivered to the players in a scientific method. Just look at this pie chart:

Tim Sherwood delivers mild cheddar in the form of cheese pies. The calcium gives strong bones, and the mixture of protein and fats gives the body the rebuilding blocks it needs overnight. Tim Sherwood understands two things in life - cheese and tactics.



Luis Suarez has failed to score in his last two games. Liverpool have dropped from 1st to 5th in just two games. If Suarez continues in the same form, he will quite literally never score another goal in professional football.

Is it time for Liverpool to cash in on their prize asset? It might be necessary to balance the books, because if Liverpool also carry on their form of the last two games, they will quite literally never win another game of professional football.

Relegation beckons for Brendan Rodgers, it’s time for serious action before the club is finished - sack Rodgers, sell Suarez. The numbers don’t lie.

Alex Netherton | Follow on Twitter