Monthly Archives: May 2017

Coach or Player?

If we thank God for victories, why don’t we blame Him for losses?

Manchester United lost to Arsenal. I tried not to write this almost immediately after that game. 2-0, ouch! That must have hurt, no? 2 goals in less than 4 minutes. It was an interesting performance. Most analysts blame Mourinho for putting out a ‘weak’ squad. For rotating, more or less. Really? All through this year, Mourinho has pointed out the benefits of winning the Europa League, and the ‘einsteins’ are now surprised?

But i digress. De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Darmian, Herrera, Carrick, Mata, Martial, Mikhitaryan, Rooney. There’s your ‘weak’ line-up! All those players have been part of the starting 11 at some point of the season. They are not weak in its truest sense. But. Some haven’t played in a while; some just returned from injury; and some are not yet match-fit.

Blame. Ugh. Such an ugly word.  Yet it is necessary; maybe not to blame, but to find the root cause of that defeat. Or better yet, to find out why some games are not played well. So as Kanye sang, let’s play the balme game. How could we not score? Why was Xhaka given all that space? Was De Gea a little bit out of position for that goal? Could Smalling have reacted better to Chamberlain’s cross? Was that cross really that good?

All the games Manchester United have drawn while totally dominating. All the chances wasted in front of goal. Who bears responsibility? Bad luck? Players? Manager?

Apportioning blame is risky, because most scapegoats are branded that unjustly. Pogba was considered a flop, until he has had to miss a few games. Now we miss him, we see what he does so well. Players are a flop till their next good game. And they are world-class till their next bad game.

Leicester City have come up ever since Ranieri was fired. Was it Ranieri? His game plan? Did he not charm the players anymore? Did he not say ‘dilly ding dong’ anymore? Or was it the players who didn’t execute his plans? And why? Intentional or were they not just up to the task?

Chelsea collapsed last season. Mourinho or the players? Can we really say both? Why did the results improve with Guus Hiddink? Why are the same players performing so well this season?

No outright answers to all these questions. You can spin it either way. Mourinho says it’s up to the players to motivate themselves. What role does the manager play? Do we add God in the mix, like we do in most bad things that happen to us? Who is to blame for bad games and who is to be credited for good games? If we thank God for victories, why don’t we blame Him for losses?

 

 

FERGIE BACK?

There was to be no other.

There probably will be no other.

4 years ago, the greatest manager to ever grace a football pitch retired. Sir Alex Ferguson. He walked away, and the club he left has not been the same since. Everyone knew it would be tough, but what to do? How do you move on from someone who meant everything? You don’t. You really can’t, unless you get another super-hero who will mean more. That super-hero probably doesn’t exist. This life!

Walk around the block, and you’ll see wanna-be’s. Everybody trying to be the next AF. Nobody even comes close. You need to be there for 25+ years, dominate your league, bend it to your own will, win 35+ trophies. Refresh your squad every 4 to 5 years. Above all, transmit your personality to those under your care (greatness comes when you reproduce greatness).

Tough act to follow. Anybody trying? Pochettino comes to mind. He has the desire to do something similar.

Anybody else?

Enter the bald man. Better known as Zidane aka Zizou.

What? Zidane? I know what you’re thinking. The guy just started management at the highest level. This is his first full season. Isn’t it a little, actually a lot early to make such a comparison? Yes. Time is a good tester. But one of Fergie’s great qualities was in seeing potential early on? So, technically am i the next Fergie for pointing Zidane out?

Zidane has some qualities worth noticing.

Legitimacy (big word). He has developed a meritocracy in that players know they get opportunities based on merit. Consider this: Who has the most appearances in this squad in La Liga? Ronaldo? no. Bale? no. Modric? no. Vazquez, know him. Lucas Vazquez. Next. Isco. They are not necessarily starting games, but they are getting minutes, opportunities to prove themselves. This makes them listen to him when he tells them what to do, they respect him. It also enables him to rotate without losing much quality. It enables him to introduce hungry substitutes who have changed games.

Never say die attitude. 22 goals in the last 10 minutes. They don’t give up this season. A good number of the goals have turned losses into draws or draws into wins. They have added points. Classic Fergie trait.

Man management. Cristiano Ronaldo has played considerably less minutes this season, but has been productive at crucial moments. This is due Zidane convincing him to rest more, save his energy for important periods. He has coaxed the best out of James Rodriguez from the bench, Isco from the bench, Morata, the list goes on.

Youth. Vazquez, Asensio, Morata, Varane. Yes, Morata and Varane were good players even before Zidane was manager. But he still has played them; add Asensio and Vazquez and you get a manager who believes in giving young players a chance. Another classic Fergie trait.

And last but not least, winning. He is showing that everything translates to trophies. Champions League last season, La Liga this season. Zidane is a winner.

Combine the qualities and you get the feeling that the great Fergie is back, unlike Tupac, who they just sang about. If only we can still say the same 25+ years and 35+ trophies later. Then we’ll really know that Fergie is back.