A BIT like solar-powered cars, self-sustaining communes and the flat tax, all-out pressing football is an appealing idea but impractical in the real world. Hard, high pressing is fun to watch, it keeps your team on the front foot, it enables you to play high up the pitch and when you do force a mistake and get the ball back, you are usually pretty close to the opposition goal.

But there is a problem. Continuous pressing is tiring. It can cause you to commit plenty of fouls. Unless you maintain clockwork precision for 90 minutes, you will lose your shape. And, perhaps most of all, it leaves you vulnerable to the most rudimentary of football weapons: the big, straight boot up the pitch.

It is maybe not a coincidence then that two of the biggest advocates of the high press, Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp, have been moving away from it, particularly the former. And when Tottenham and Liverpool square off today at Wembley, we may well only get intermittent glimpses of it.

Tottenham’s press has, of course, long been different for a while, in part because when Christian Eriksen is part of your front three, you are not necessarily going to have the athleticism to range far and wide. It is more positional and there are times when Pochettino is unafraid to drop his defensive line and ambush opponents in different areas of the park, most frequently in midfield or wide areas.

It is a change that happened around the mid-point last season and this year, with Danny Rose only just returning and Kyle Walker gone, two players blessed with agility and pace, it has become more conservative.

The change in Liverpool’s press was recently chronicled with numerical support by Jonathan Northcroft in the Sunday Times. Opponents have more time in possession and, perhaps most significantly, instances of “group pressing” are down a whopping 50 per cent. Another metric, passes per defensive action – ie the number of passes a team complete before a foul or change in possession – is also different this year from last (from 6.5 to 9.6), suggesting opponents don’t just have more time on the ball, they are doing more with it. Tracking data suggests Liverpool are keeping a lower defensive line as well.

In other words, Pochettino and Klopp, with varying degrees of success, are doing what managers are supposed to do; when things stop working as well, or when you identify a better way, you make a change. The tricky part comes in implementing and executing that change.

Tottenham are further down the line. Part of it has to do with quality in key positions. They simply have better defenders, a better goalkeeper, and better-rounded midfielders who are more adept at changing the rhythm of a match.

Part of it is down to the fact Pochettino began his transition earlier and has had a more settled group of players. He didn’t add a key piece like Mohamed Salah (great player, but still one who needs to be integrated) in the summer, didn’t have the uncertainty of Philippe Coutinho’s future to deal with and did not lose Adam Lallana to injury.

Today should be telling. Defeat for Liverpool could see the deficit with the top of the table slip to double figures. And we would get more of those Klopp/Brendan Rodgers comparisons which only infuriate and unsettle.

That is why it looks a safe bet that, far from swashbuckling heavy metal football, today should be a more studied affair, from both teams.

JUST when you thought the Football Association could not reach new levels of dysfunction, they find a way to surprise you. But first, a caveat. When politicians get to grill folks at a parliamentary hearing, they inevitably end up grand-standing and playing to the media gallery. That is understandable. It is not a court of law. It is, essentially, a court of public opinion and these are people who rely on the public and their votes to keep their jobs. So, especially when there isn’t a major ideological issue at stake (like here), they tend to follow the prevailing wind which is anti-FA.

That out of the way, they asked the right questions and what came to light, frankly, was flabbergasting. Take chief executive Martin Glenn. OK, so he inherited a situation with a national team coach who previously figured it was all right to have sex with his teenage players and who then got embroiled in an ugly bullying/racism spat with Eni Aluko who is both educated and media savvy.

And yes, once he finally got around to discovering what everybody knew about Mark Sampson – that he had a sexual relationship with one of his players – he did the right thing and got rid of him.

Better late than never. But to then oversee a charade where you pay Aluko off without a hard-and-fast gag stipulation and then withhold some of the payment is a joke.

And when you continue endorsing not one but two inquiries which end up proving to be flawed you have entered Keystone Kops territory.

Or how about the FA’s technical director, Dan Ashworth? He leads an internal inquiry and, at the same time, provides testimony, endorsing one of the parties in the dispute. I appreciate he doesn’t have a degree in law but you don’t need one to understand there is a basic conflict of interest.

Or how about the FA’s chairman, Greg Clarke, effectively Aluko’s court of last resort in this matter? He receives an email from her and his response is to sit on it for a while before writing back and effectively asking “Why are you sending me this and what do you want me to do about it?”

Clarke’s decision during the hearing to then go into a tit-for-tat with the Professional Footballers’ Association by talking about Gordon Taylor’s enormous salary looked like the kind of what-about-them ploy you would expect from duelling pre-teen siblings.

As for goalkeeping coach Lee Kendall who allegedly used a Caribbean accent when talking about the Nigerian-born Aluko, well, the less said the better. He may or may not be racist, but he’s definitely ignorant and you wonder why the FA keep people like that around.

Whether or not there’s a culture of racial insensitivity can be debated until the cows come home. But what is evident here is rampant incompetence and ham-fisted decision-making.