Take the Ball, Pass the Ball
It was weirdly symbiotic that during watching an online screener for the new documentary on Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona called Take the Ball, Pass the Ball, MOMS paused it to watch Dean Smith’s pre-Derby press conference and the first thing Smith mentioned was Pep’s ethos that the film’s title derives from.
“The one thing I want our players to do when they lose the ball is win it back quickly,” said the Villa Head Coach.
“Barcelona, for example, have always been a passing team – especially when Pep Guardiola was there. But what I liked about his teams was that they were hungry to regain possession very quickly.”
“I want the same. It’s important and keeps pressure on the opposition,” added Smith. “The lads have worked very hard at it since I’ve been here.”
Watching Barcelona’s former players discuss their time under Pep in Take the Ball, Pass the Ball, does bring up the question of what exactly have some of Villa’s previous managers been coaching?
If there’s one thing that has been refreshing about Villa’s new boss is the fact that Smith seems to speak the same language as those who have been playing trying to progress football in the 21st Century.
A lot of what Smith has mentioned in recent interviews and press conferences tallies up with the ethos and instructions Guardiola’s former Barcelona players provide an insight into during the film.
At times, watching Take the Ball, Pass the Ball, seemed like getting an insight into a blueprint that Smith has no doubt closely studied and takes his lead from. Simple in it’s deconstructed philosophy, poetic at times to watch and ultimately rewarding as a football supporter.
Certainly the 3-0 win away at Derby suggested the roots of it are starting to sprout for the better.
So what of the documentary film Take the Ball Pass the Ball?
Well, for starters, the film arrives in cinemas from November 9 before its release on DVD and Digital from November 12. The MOMS review of the film can be found below.
My Old Man Said will be giving away three DVD copies of the film in a MOMS Patron members reward draw
Take the Ball, Pass the Ball – Review
The obsession with Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Having recently been the focal point of the Amazon series All or Nothing, that provided a fly-on-the-wall look at his process at Manchester City, the new documentary film Take the Ball, Pass the Ball looks back at his time with the team that both started and defined his legacy, Barcelona.
Taking its lead from the book Barça: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World by Graham Hunter, Duncan McMath’s film bills itself as ‘the definitive story of the world’s greatest team’.
It’s a claim that has serious credence when you see the roll-call of voxpops assembled to tell the story.
Thierry Henry, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Gerard Piqué all provide much insight into Guardiola and his Nou Camp tale, backed up by input from journalists such as Sid Lowe and Graham Hunter.
Adding much colour and humour to the proceedings is the candidness of Victor Valdés, Dani Alves and Javier Mascherano, while Eric Abidal and Samuel Eto’o are important contributors, highlighting both the silk and steel of Pep’s process at times.
The structure of the film avoids a traditional chronological structure and successfully jumps around to thread together important factors to the story like the historic roots of the Barcelona way under Johan Cryff (with Jordi Cruyff representing his father), the original prospect of Jose Mourinho taking the Barca job instead of Pep, and Abidal’s fight back from cancer to lift the European Cup.
Oh, and there’s the story of how Barça almost rejected Messi.
If you wanted a seal of approval on the film being a worthy artefact of the most talked about team in the modern era, Pep himself pops up at the end to give a mini interview to rubber stamp the story his players have vividly told beforehand.