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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?




Go for broke – the Game that changed my mind

GOAT – who is the greatest of all time? if there is one. TIME. A lot changes over time, that comparisons of players of different times is difficult. One thing though doesn’t change with time: drive, hunger, fight. Regardless of which era, players can be rated by their hunger to win. How much do they want it? Do they give up?

Enter Messi, arguably one of the G.O.A.T. Talent wise, he really is up there with the most talented. It’s hard to find more talented players than him. Let’s try: Ronaldinho? [whisper] Denilson?…um…um…pointless. But isn’t there more to football than talent? Therein is the question that made me doubt a little bit about his ‘greatness’. Didn’t he just have it easy? To start with so great a midfield, so great a team. And by the time Xavi was gone, and Iniesta was a little bit fading, he had already been branded the greatest by some. So is he really great, or does his reputation preced him? Making opposing teams fearful before even facing him.

This was not to mean that Messi is not a good player, or even a great player. Just that he probably isn’t the greatest of all time. Atleast that’s what i thought before. Before what? Before the clasico; 23/04/2017.

The game that changed my mind wasn’t even the greatest clasico (the 5-0 Barca win anyone?). The 6-2 win was probably better. But rarely do i see fire in a player the same way i saw in that game. Messi was elbowed, he started bleeding. He had a black eye. He didn’t really retaliate in the same way he was offended. But he fought football wise, he took charge and did what he does best: play football.

Then Real Madrid equalised, and began pushing for a win – should they have closed down the game?. With a few seconds left, Messi changed my mind in those few seconds. Sergi Roberto made the run, cutting into spaces that had opened up from Madrid’s push. Messi made a run into space, and a cutback pass found him. The rest is history.

He ran to the corner, removed his shirt, raised it to the crowd. No 10 – MESSI! Should he have raised it to the Madrid bench?