Sports Letter: Tactical triumph

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The Independent Online
Sir: To a definitely unobjective Tottenham and Manchester United supporter, Mr Neil Kellas (Letters, 12 May) suddenly springs to mind.

After England's sad inability to qualify for this year's World Cup finals, surely Arsenal's victory in the European Cup-Winners' Cup (a competition which included Parma, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain, Ajax, Benfica, Torino, etc.) should be looked upon as a great and much-needed boost to English football.

I concede that Arsenal's performance in the final was not a classic example of 'pure' football, but Arsenal's success was achieved through winning more than just this one game. I noticed Mr Kellas's letter failed to mention excellent performances such as those in Turin, Paris and most notably Liege, where Arsenal were victorious by a mere 7-0 against one of the then seeded teams.

Victory in the final must be put into perspective to highlight just what an excellent achievement it was - not stripped of all its credibility, as attempted by Mr Kellas.

Arsenal were greatly weakened by various injuries and a suspension. The most notable absentees were Ian Wright and John Jensen, probably Arsenal's two best performers en route to the final. So here we had a weakened and in some areas a relatively inexperienced team, up against a Parma side who included 10 internationals, all of whom will be on display at this year's World Cup and who must have a collective value of at least pounds 50m.

Arsenal's best policy therefore was to play to their strengths - it is called tactics, a major part of football that Mr Kellas also neglected. Thankfully Arsenal did play to their strengths. Arsenal deserve all credit and a great deal of respect.

Yours sincerely


Leighton Buzzard


PS Mr Kellas, did you see the goal? You know, the 20-yard volley that flew in off the post. Wasn't it just 'profoundly depressing' and 'dull'.