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Football: Simply A Complicated Game

Aneesh Gupta
762   //    19 Jul 2011, 22:36 IST

Gael Clichy left Arsenal after playing his heart out for the club for the 8 years he dedicated to Arsenal. He was one of those players that remained critical to the team’s success regardless of the fact that he always remained low key.  The only player remaining of that great Invincibles squad of the 2003-04 season, always seemed invincible for the wingers and strikers who went against him. But after spending the most prominent years of his career at Arsenal, the player wanted to move on and was courteously granted his wish by the club thus securing a move to Manchester City.

It seemed like everything was fine, both parties got a nice deal for themselves with  Clichy moving to a newer challenge and the Gunners getting 7 million for the player considering that he could have left for nothing a year from now when his contract expired exactly like his French compatriot Mathieu Flamini, who after becoming a regular in the first team left for free, earning the ire of the Gunners supporters, stalling contract talks, suddenly  becoming pricey and leaving on a bad note .  This was never the case with Clichy,where all seemed in good spirit.  Well, till now it seemed that way until Clichy came out and made a few foolhardy comments about his previous employers.  It was painful on a personal front.  When you support the club and the players you always see them as people to be revered, there is this respect for each guy. Particularly for players who do their jobs on the pitch proficiently, playing for the team, never hogging the limelight for the wrong reasons and players that never go out of their way showing that they are bigger than the team. When such a player comes out and speaks rashly about his former club, it just displaces the image one always has of the player.  The player, who is kept on a pedestal in the fan’s mind just loses his spot. I know it’s not an ideal world and words like FAITH and LOYALTY are usually swept away with a hefty pay cheque (CASHLEY COLE) it’s tough to find players who are able to keep their stature and respect in the heart of club faithfuls even after they leave a club .You kiss the badge one day and the next you kiss the club good bye.

Granted Clichy was looking for newer challenges away from Arsenal

Granted Clichy was looking for newer challenges away from Arsenal

Clichy, like so many players who have parted company with Arsenal in the past, targeted the team and the manager by having a dig at his first club in England saying that he could not wait and CHALLENGE for trophies at Arsenal year after year.  He wanted to WIN them, that is why he moved to the Eastlands. Earlier Emmanuel Adebayor also took a dig at the manager while parting company.  It really comes as a surprise to me  but  it has become a regular fixture in recent times with players blaming the gaffer and the club.  It’s like Arsene Wenger has become this sitting duck that anybody and everybody targets. All of us suffer from the disease where we think we can be better than the manager; we think it to be a cakewalk managing a team. Everybody criticizes Wenger for this and that and give suggestions on what he should be doing and what he should not ,which player he should be buying, getting rid of , with the whole projected line ups for the future.  That for me is uncalled for. Time and time again he is at one end supported for the way he has built up this team on the right principles i.e. attacking positive game.  On the other hand he is blamed for the lack of success and the players who play on the pitch get away. To a certain extent, I would agree that it’s the manager who orchestrates the club and its activities but you can’t blame him at large for everything that goes wrong with the club.  You boast of the PFA Young Player of the year, Jack Wilshere and then you want some mature players. You want sexy, entertaining, free flowing football  and then you want the team to alter their approach  that has made them a global brand, come up with Plan B, roughen up, play long balls? Sorry you can’t have it both ways. True that Arsenal have not won anything for the better part of 8 years but once you start singling out personnel for it, you see the team disintegrate,the whole belief is gone.

its the players who make the game complicated

It's the players who make the game complicated

One of the greatest managers ever and a Liverpool legend, Bill Shankly once said “Football is a simple game .It’s the players who complicate it “.  Partly true because at the end of the day, a manager can only dish out instructions and tell you the tactics.  The player is the one who has to finally execute them, he can take note of the things or perhaps digress from the commands of the coach. It’s the players on the pitch whose discretion matters the most and may shape the consequence of a game. For instance, Lionel Messi  or Cristiano Ronaldo may know all the tricks and flicks and may just dribble their way past the whole opposition defense but the coach gives them a role for the team and they have the option of either sticking to the game plan or letting their own mind wander on the pitch.  Thus it ultimately boils down to the players’ prerogative, they can forgo the plan and play for themselves or play and win with the team.  If they decide to go on their own, they may perhaps not get the stick from everyone (except the gaffer that is) but the game plan is ruined and the manager is for sure exposed to criticism . Here I need to clarify that I am not advocating a system where the players are voodoo dolls in the hands of the manager.  Rather I wish to propagate a way where a symbiosis within the team exists where though the players are part of a system, they have the freedom to show their creativity within the framework of the game plan in a way that it trickles down to the bigger goal that is the success for the team .

Aneesh Gupta
Arsene Wenger fan, loves football and cricket
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