One thing that I deem to be simply unacceptable by a footballer and something that is one of the most irritating things for a fan to watch is that of a player taking a poor set piece – not just once, I am not an unreasonable person it is obvious that once in a while – perhaps even slightly more than that a player might mess up, and we as fans can get over that. What is simply not acceptable is for a player to make the mistake over and over again, hitting the first man on a corner or skying the ball on a free kick.
Given the amount of abuse England’s two Ashley’s received after the penalty misses in the Euros, for a player who has hardly ever missed a penalty through his career in the case of Ashley Cole, even that is something fans will not tolerate much less forgive.
Why then do players such as Florent Malouda or more often than not Ozil get away with corners that hit the first man time and time again with only a half-hearted apology of shrugging their shoulders as a response? For someone who wishes to call themselves a top class professional – never mind considering the amount of money they earn week in week out – not putting the time in on the training ground in an attempt to rectify this is frankly a disgrace.
If a nurse or teacher messed up at work repeatedly they would receive a huge deal more than a murmur of disapproval from the fans or a bark from the touchline. It would have to be sorted immediately – well if they still had a job that is. Footballers should be no different. If they cannot take the corners without making a mistake repeatedly, then they should do what Juan Mata has done with pentalties and pass the duty onto someone else.
In the modern game, set pieces are becoming more and more vital and can not only be a way to relieve some pressure for a while or indeed run the clock down but also to score a vital goal. If you cannot break a team down in open play, a corner or free kick may well be the best chance of doing so – well unless the player taking it is totally inept, then your team becomes even more vulnerable than they were before and could even be done on the break if all they defenders have moved forward for the goal.
Countless times in big games, a player has popped up with a goal resulting from a corner and this has made the difference between a win and a draw or elimination from a competition and having life in a second leg.
Not to mention if a team is slightly more talented at possessional play it is very likely to be the only way the opposition can get a goal. Often teams pretty on the eye aren’t too keen on the physical aspect of the game a la Barcelona and Arsenal and set pieces are a major way to exploit this – of course a team cannot do this if they cannot put in a quality set play and ultimately only have themselves to blame.