Much as I approve of Tim’s outrage at people insisting there is only one way to play the game, and ignoring his own (no doubt ironic) final normative statement, I have to say that I disagree with a lot of what he says.

Tim would be one of very few people in these parts who has probably watched more football well away from the highest levels than I have – I’ve been a Bristol Rovers supporter since the ’60s, and we’ve never looked remotely like pushing towards the top divisions – and I can’t agree that there’s nothing more boring than ineffective dribbles and fruitless trickery. Obviously there is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than a Gas goal, but shoving in adjectives like the ones I used there makes this no comparison with a goal for your team.

A fairer comparison would be setting that useless fannying around against seeing another aimless long ball lumped forward at your lumbering centre forward, with possession lost in the next second for the umpteenth time that game. Or comparing the thrills of seeing a long ball flicked on for the second striker to whack it in with the thrill AND aesthetic delight at seeing a beautifully worked move lead to a goal. I know which I prefer to see from both pairs of events.

This was inspired, incidentally, by watching Celtic tonight in the Champions’ League. The goal that finally put them ahead, deservedly so after a tremendous performance against Lyon, came as the culmination of a move involving 24 passes, the TV tells me, including a gorgeous flicked ball to Larsson who provided a great cross for the young Irishman Miller. I was more thrilled by that than any other Celtic goal I can ever remember seeing.

I guess my fussiness rather vanishes when it’s my team, and I’ll happily take what works, but most of what I watch is on TV, and it’s nearly all games where I am more or less neutral (excepting English teams in Europe, and the very rare Sky or cup appearance for Rovers), so effectiveness is really not a big criterion for me.