The Spanish author Luis Magrinyà once wrote that “Behind literature there is only literature”.
And I think that what he was trying to convey was the notion that a work of art can be considered to exist within (and to have been created by) a very specific universe.
Books beget books beget books.
And if we search for insights or influences that go beyond the limits of the fictional written word then we are riding on a train for which disappointment is the only destination.
I don’t know if Magrinyà is right or wrong about this (and I’m not even sure I understand what the hell he’s trying to say anyway) but if he were one of the worldwide audience watching the Atlanta United versus Vancouver Whitecaps game on Saturday evening he would undoubtedly have turned to his companion and exclaimed “You see! There is nothing we can learn from this other than what it is! This game tells us nothing about anything except the game itself!”
Words that were no doubt echoed around the Province of British Columbia as fans of the Whitecaps watched (one of) their major officiating antagonists, Ismael Elfath, decide that at least four and half minutes of prevarication over a video was enough to decide that Kendal Waston committed a “clear and obvious” foul and thus merited a red card in addition to the penalty kick that was awarded.
Let’s not get into the contentious VAR discussion again except to say that I was very definitely right about the whole thing.
I think that we can at least agree on that!
But what if we were to put aside the musings of Magrinyà and try to figure out if we could take something of value from Vancouver’s 4-1 defeat?
Well, we could say that the team showed a degree of spirit that will probably bode well in the coming season. And while there’s usually nothing more enervating than listening to a coach praise the “character” of his team. In this particular case Carl Robinson would at least have some merit on his side.
Alphonso Davies was once again the Whitecaps best player.
He started as a wing-back beside a back three but slotted in as left back once the red card was issued.
It feels like a huge waste of his talent to play Davies as a pure defender but if Robinson ever does fully settle on the three at the back system then Davies would be the best wing back in the league.
Elsewhere Jordan Mutch and Felipe both offered little other than the occasional bullet of a long forward pass that brought to mind the glory days of Pedro Morales.
And while it’s hard, at this stage, to see the value in starting both of them in the same game the fact they possess that weapon in their locker makes the thought of figuring out a way to make that combination work an interesting prospect.
It’s tough to say much of value about anybody else given the early timing of the sending off.
Blondell and Mezquida were invisible and the ultimate central defensive pairing of Maund and Aja were constantly sliced in two by the slick passing of Atlanta.
That may have happened no matter what the numbers on the field were so all we can really do is shrug and put this one down to the vagaries of a referee who was keener to make the big decision than the right decision.
And can we please promise to never speak of Brek Shea’s decision to not shoot from the edge of the six yard box when the score was at 3-1?
We interrupt this blog for three bonus thoughts from the day
The early red card not only ruined the game it also meant we were unable to see the three at the back experiment in any meaningful way which is a shame because it has the potential to make the Whitecaps a far more interesting side than the “dig deep and bunker” variety we have grown used to.
The Whitecaps will be “feisty” this season. The additions of Felipe and Juarez has already upped the ante to the likes of Reyna and Waston when it comes to getting under the skin of the opposition and that means Vancouver will be an even less popular team with opponents than last year and that’s no bad thing.
It seems increasingly probable that when Aly Ghazal returns from injury he will spend as much time in central defence as central midfield. Waston will face international (and suspension) absences. Maund is a third choice central defender and Aja and Henry still have much to prove for varying reasons. Throw in the three at the back scenario becoming a more regular occurrence and the plethora of central midfielders now in the side and the Egyptian just seems to make more sense in the defensive role.
And now we return you to your regular blog.
On to the next game.
Time for your Soccer Shorts player ratings
Marinovic-5.5, Nerwinski-5.5, Davies-7*, Maund-5, Aja-5, Felipe-5, Juarez-6 Mutch-5, Mezquida-5, Blondell-5 (Shea-5.5)