Joey Barton would have felt at home on the pitches of Victorian Britain.
I'm currently reading Jonathan Wilson's peerless book on the history of football tactics, 'Inverting the Pyramid'. I could eulogise all day about the author's meticulous research and the clarity of his writing but instead I urge you to discover them for yourselves.
With the exception of Helenio Herrera who twice represented France (despite being born in Argentina and raised in Morocco) and then managed Puteaux and Stade Français before perfecting Catenaccio at Inter Milan, the French haven't played a prominent part in the tactical genesis of the game. That said, I can't resist sharing the following quotation attributed by Wilson to F.W. Campbell, one of the pioneers present at a meeting called in 1863 to formalise the rules of the fledgling sport known as football. High on the agenda, was the legitimacy of "hacking" at an opponent's shins:
'If you do away with [hacking], you will do away with all the courage and pluck of the game, and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's practice.'
One wonders what Mr Campbell would have made of Arsène Wenger's Arsenal: French, flimsy and not a decent set a whiskers between them.