Parking the bus is no easy football manoeuvre
There has been one phrase dominating Scottish football this week. The term "parking the bus" and its connotations have been discussed and debated by pundits and fans alike.
There is, of course, a division of opinion on the merits of a side producing a defensive display, but how do players feel about it? Do they not enjoy being part of a side that is aimed at restricting the opposition, or do they simply accept such occasions and even relish them as another test of their football capabilities and resolve?
Firstly, players, like everyone who loves the game, would prefer to play in a side or be part of a performance that is easy on the eye and which secures victories by scoring several goals.
However, the nature of the sport suggests that there will always be sides stronger than others and, in these cases, is it more admirable to stand toe-to-toe with the opposition and accept a beating, or to look for alternative methods of gaining an advantage?
In a football sense, where success is usually results-based, the decision to employ other tactics is often taken. If such a choice is made then a manager must shape his team in a different way, ask players to play in a specific disciplined manner and perhaps sacrifice certain individuals from his line-up.
Therefore, if when criticising a defensive performance people stopped to ponder the concentration levels and tactical awareness that are used in such a display then perhaps they would be more lavish with their praise. I wondered if those who were disparaging of Rangers' efforts at Old Trafford were as negative when analysing Inter's Champions League semi-final success at the Nou Camp.
With both of these examples, I enjoyed the matches, not because I did not want to see Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney producing moments of individual brilliance but because, as the longer these matches went on, I could only admire the determination that players showed not to concede.
I fully understand many will disagree and will argue that football is an entertainment business and therefore being supportive of such tactics is undermining such an ethos. However, from an inside the dressing-room point of view, I have played in many matches where huge satisfaction is gained from restricting a superior opposition and achieving something from the match.
If the art of defending was not of such importance in football then why do so many managers talk of building from the back when structuring a new side? A clean sheet always gives you a great platform to win a game and a succession of them will provide a great chance of silverware. It is not always the most atheistically pleasing, but it is most certainly a major part of the game.
If I did accept, however, that entertainment in the shape of goals should always be provided then what could football change to try and guarantee such a happening? They could perhaps follow the lead of other sports and employ a system of bonus points.
Such "extra" points could be rewarded for the scoring of an away goal or for scoring three or more goals in any game. In all honesty, I am probably against such a dramatic change in how teams win points but sensible enough to realise that there may be a league somewhere that leads a revolution and attempts to ensure attack-minded sides at all times.
Finally, whether it is in a free-flowing winning team or one that "parks the bus", I am obviously delighted to be given a quick and great opportunity to play again at Dunfermline. I have joined a side with clear ambitions of regaining a place in the Scottish Premier League and I look forward to trying to help them achieve this.