A decade in football is a very long time, and just about anything can happen in that period. Teams like Liverpool, who started the decade miserably ended it in glory. In the previous decade, we have seen some incredible feats like Leicester City winning the Premier League, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominance and the introduction of video technology into the game. While we have so much more to talk about, surely this decade is going to throw up some more unthinkable prospects.
2010-2019 has been one of the best footballing decades that we have seen for some time. It has thrown up some of the biggest upsets in footballing history as well as seeing the game going in an entirely new direction. The rules have changed quite a lot throughout this decade, leading to the most controversial year in football yet to see out the decade. Domestic, European and International football has been at its very best with momentous achievements throughout. While it is almost impossible to name everything, we can break down the moments that defined the decade that will live on long in the memory of football fans.
The beginning of the decade saw Spain go on to win their first-ever World Cup in 2010. This wasn’t to be the only success for the Spanish, as Pep Guardiola signed off as Barcelona manager by winning their last Champions League trophy in 2011 and placing this team amongst the all-time greats. Guardiola won 10 trophies in his three years in charge. “AGÜEROOOOO” rang out in 2012 when Manchester City clinched their first-ever Premier League in dramatic fashion thanks to a late goal from the Argentinian. This win would see the blue side of Manchester become more than just “noisy neighbours” to their red rivals, and go on to be a force to be reckoned with. Alex Ferguson had the last laugh against City when he bowed out with his 13th and final Premier League trophy in 2013, going down as the greatest Manager the game had seen. I’m sure he would have loved to stay on a year longer and watch Liverpool’s title slip-up in 2014, but that’s something that the world shared their enjoyment of.
Germany thrashed Brazil 7-1 on their home turf in the World Cup in 2014 to go on and become World Champions. Just one year later in 2015, FIFA was rocked by corruption scandals that saw their President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini banned from football. One positive to come out of 2015 was Jürgen Klopp’s appointment as Liverpool manager. 2016 saw a 5000/1 underdog in Leicester City pull off one of the biggest shocks in football history by winning the Premier League, a true Cinderella story. While money was slowly creeping into the game with rising transfer fees, 2017 blew the record out of the water when Neymar signed for PSG for a cool £198 million. This was only the beginning of outrageous transfer fees that the decade would become known for.
England reached the World Cup semi-final in 2018, which had the entire country hoping and believing it was “coming home.” It didn’t come home, but one thing that did was Real Madrid’s third consecutive Champions League trophy to take their total to 13 after a win against Liverpool. The Reds stopped a fourth successive title for them when they went on to win their sixth European title in 2019. Their comeback from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-final second leg against Barcelona is one of the standout moments of the decade and in football history. This topped off an incredible transformation under Klopp, and they would eventually go on to win their first Premier League title the next season. Wow, what a decade.
While these are the most defining moments from the past decade, we can’t forget some of the individual masterclasses from some of the best players to play the game. It is a decade that will be remembered for the dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who broke just about every record they could have. Both players battled it out in La Liga with each match bringing a piece of brilliance that had us in awe. While the debate of who was better was one of the most significant topics of the decade, we just need to be thankful that we were born in the same lifetime and be able to witness the greatness that was these two players While they would dominate for the entire decade, we lost some legendary players to retirement throughout this. Kaká, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ryan Giggs, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and Puyol, to name but a few. These are some of the best players we have seen who will go down as icons in the game.
One of the most significant changes that we have seen in football in the last decade has been the introduction of technology into the game. This was groundbreaking and something that we had been crying out to introduce for years. As the game was beginning to get faster, it was clear that officials could no longer keep up with the evolving pace and needed helping. Goal-line technology was the first to be introduced, which would end all debate on whether the ball crossed the line or not. There have been so many incidents like this that could have changed history like Luis García’s “ghost goal” against Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s strike against Germany. Electronic performance and tracking systems were also added to the game to track a players performance and give a clear insight into the work ethic of a footballer through data.
VAR was the most significant technological advancement that we have seen introduced which reviews decisions on-field during a match and makes the final call on it. The video assistant referee is a match official in a neutral venue who will review the decisions of the head referee in a given game. Decisions over red cards, penalties, goals and offsides make up the majority of this reviewing. We have seen responsibility taken away from officials through this introduction which has caused quite some controversy. It took until the last year of the decade for this to be introduced into the Premier League and Champions League, but it looks like it is here to stay as it is correcting errors made by officials. While the general opinion on VAR is split, there is no denying that it is the future of the game and it will take time to perfect like any new technology.
While we pull the curtain on a memorable decade, 2020 has already started off the new decade with some defining moments. The world was hit with a pandemic just three months into the year that saw the countries shut down its borders and go into full lockdown. All sports across the globe came to a halt and were suspended for months. It took football over 100 days to return to action, but it is under entirely different circumstances. There are no fans allowed in the grounds and teams must be checked for the virus multiple teams each week. Matches are now played in an empty stadium with the only way of viewing them from our screens at home. We are fortunate that football is back in some of the top dvisions as other leagues around the world and even lower down the pyramid in England have been voided. One of the happiest sets of fans to have football back are Liverpool fans who came so close to having their 30 year wait for a title taken away from them. They were on the brink of clinching the title right before the lockdown, so it has been a nervy time for them. The wait has made their title win all the sweeter as they finally got their hands on the Premier League title after three decades. This alone proves that we are in store for a very memorable decade, but what else can we expect to see?
One thing that we are sure to see is the rise of future stars, and who will take the mantle that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will leave behind by the end of this decade. It is highly unlikely that these two players will see the end of the decade, which is something that we are not quite prepared for yet. The two of them have dominated the game and have made it almost impossible for anyone to emulate. While some potential world-class players are coming through, the only one who we can see reaching the top is France and PSG star Kylian Mbappė, based off of what we have seen. He is currently the best young player in the world lighting up the game, and he is still only 21. He is the biggest prospect in the world at the minute and even he has a long way to go. England has a large number of young prospects coming through that have the potential to make it on the main stage of football, but if we are to go off the history of young English talents, we should take it with a grain of salt. We never know how young players careers will pan out as anything can happen, but someone needs to fill the void left behind by Messi and Ronaldo.
It is always hard to predict what teams are going to stand out in a decade. The likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City are the most notable teams from the previous decade. Teams can start a decade miserable and finish strong, or vice versa. Liverpool ended the decade as European Champions and World Champions and started the new decade as Premier League Champions, so they are the team to topple It seems like it will be a battle between themselves and Man City in England for the next couple of years as other clubs around them are going through transitional periods. Real Madrid seems to be getting back to their best after two relatively, by their standards at least, weak seasons. Manchester United are starting to play well again after a dismal number of years since Ferguson’s departure. Chelsea under Frank Lampard look like they could be a threat next season too. Bayern Munich could be another team to watch out for as they have one of the best young squads in the world.
I see a major change in football over the next ten years if we consider how much the game has changed in the previous decade from the 2000s. There will be more rule changes brought in, perhaps stricter ones regarding tackling as we have already seen how much that has changed in recent times. The art of tackling is a rarity now, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they got rid of slide tackles altogether. Another thing that we might see is the introduction of kick-ins as a replacement for throw-ins. This will speed up the game and make things more interesting. I think that officials will have less responsibility over the coming years as technology will grow to become a much more significant part of the game. We have already seen the linesman’s role virtually covered by VAR, so could we see it taking over the on-field referee too?
This pandemic has put things into perspective for in football. Money was being thrown around like nothing before this happened, and now this might make teams more conscious about their spending. The clubs who had their staff and players take pay cuts can’t go out and spend £50 million on a player now, as it would give a very negative impression. Because of this, we may see the introduction of salary caps at clubs and overall see a reduction in player wages across the board. Clubs will not want to be in this position again so they may think twice about handing out triple-figure wages to every new incoming player.
We have seen the first-ever 3 pm televised kick-offs in the UK that seem to have put an end to the “3 pm blackout” that has been in place across the UK for so long. Broadcasters have now come together to televise all English matches, so the viewers at home don’t miss any action. There was essentially a match on almost every day of the week, which was music to football fans’ ears who were stuck at home with nothing else to do. We are hoping this is the start of more flexible showing times and also see the possibility of a football streaming service like a Netflix for football setting up.
It looks like we will see a major shakeup with European competitions with a brand new format being discussed for the Champions League and even a third European competition being introduced. We could see this as early as 2021. Another significant change that we will likely see is footballers coming out openly as being gay, which so far we have not seen. In this day and age, there has never been more support and backing for this to happen, so we are hopefully not far off it. Society has changed, and there is now more of an acceptance surrounding this issue, which was never previously apparent. Troy Deeney only recently spoke about this subject stating that there is likely to be at least one gay footballer at each club and has encouraged them to open up. Justin Fashanu was the first footballer to take this step almost 30 years ago, but not many have followed in his footsteps sadly. Along with this, I think we will see more opportunities for black and ethnic minority coaches which is something that is a major issue at the minute. There will be a significant social shift in football this decade that is for sure.
There is no doubt that there will be revolutionary changes coming into the football throughout this decade. We will see things that we have never seen before, and some might not like it. We will be looking at a much different game in 10 years and whether it is for the better is a discussion on its own. Change is coming in more ways than one, but our love for the game will not.