Lesson 3: A simple guide to dismissing the achievements of all but a handful of teams in history with Eamon Dunphy and John Giles.

Positivity will get you absolutely nowhere in football punditry. It’s all very well to flirt with enthusiasm every now and again but you must quickly come to your senses and realise that there is something fundamentally wrong with what you have seen. It is false!

Nowhere is this realism more important that in the assessment of great teams. Firstly, of course, there are no great teams. But, and this is being a little generous, there are some “real teams”, sometimes known as “serious sides”.

It’s important to remember that you must not, under any circumstances, award credit or recognition for a team performance unless one calibrates whether that performance would have been sufficient against one of the real teams. It never will.

The Charter

To establish itself at the vanguard of football virtuosity, a “real team”:

– Won’t give you a chance

– Will, in fact, kill the game off when they have a chance

– Doesn’t, under any circumstances, include David Beckham

– Do their stuff at the right time

– Have, needless to say, an abundance of moral courage

– Are well able to look after themselves

– Possess a player who will put his foot on the ball and dictate the pace of the game

– Can even rely on the same fellow to knock some bread and butter passes

– Play the game on its merits

– Always defend on its merits

– Won’t struggle against your Blackburns and your Boltons

– Work hard, produce the magic moments and do the bread and butter stuff as well

– Never mention “tiredness”

– Don’t get involved in “that kind of showboating”

The serious contenders

It should be noted that a side’s entitlement to reality status might be a somewhat fluid accolade. For example, international pretenders like Holland, Argentina, Portugal and Germany might well be afforded temporary realness at the beginning of a major tournament.

However, once England are safely out of the way, it can be quickly established that none of these teams were very real at all. In fact, in most cases, they were entirely “bankrupt”.

Likewise, “your Milans”, “your Real Madrids” and “your Arsenals” may well be real teams when the balls come out of the hat in August.

But as soon as these shapers kick a ball in anger, they can safely be dismissed as “fatally flawed”.

At time of writing, we believe there are seven outfits that can safely be described as real teams.

– Real Madrid 1960s

– Brazil 1970

– The Leeds United team that John played in

– Germany 1974

– Italy 1982 (up for debate)

– Milan 1989/90

– The Liverpool team that Ronnie played in

Institute of Commentating Note:

The Manchester United team of 1999 may sometimes earn temporary reality status, as long as its forgotten that David Beckham was a key component and the conversation is about Roy Keane.

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