IMAGINE yourself being a football club manager and you need to put together a squad that will make your club successful, with the meaning of “success” depending on your ambitions, of course; whether it’s survival, European football places or a championship, you choose.
A certain Portuguese manager once famously said: “Better eggs make better omelettes. In the supermarket there’re eggs class one, class two and class three. Some are more expensive but they make better omelette.” So what is this something that makes the difference?
Surely, it has to be the skill. The goal scoring ability, passing, technique – key football qualities. Just look at Barcelona, they mastered them to perfection and dominate every game they play. They are all fantastic footballers and have already won more trophies than most players can ever dream of. That’s plain fact, whether you like Barcelona or not.
But they lose. It doesn’t really happen too often, but it happens. And mainly they lose against determined sides with bundles of character. The best game I’ve seen so far this season has been Celtic’s win over Barcelona at Parkhead. It was a triumph of will, spirit and determination. And this game will long live in the memory not only of those in Hoops but everyone.
Look at Chelsea. They won the Champions League last season against all the odds, delivering the best night in the history of the club.
They won it due to key roles of strong charismatic characters such as Lampard, Drogba and Cech. Flair players like Mata, Sturridge or Torres were passengers and not leading acts. This season they changed their approach from character to flair and were praised originally. However, they are now out of the Champions League, lost two finals and are miles behind of the first place.
Brendan Rodgers went for continental approach this season with flair and skill as the main qualities. The likes of Adam, Carroll, Kuyt and Bellamy – maybe not the most technically gifted players but certainly the ones you’d want by your side in a fight, were replaced with Allen, Borini, Sahin and Assaidi – supposedly skilful players but with their mental strength questionable at best.
It resulted in no charismatic leaders on the pitch apart from Gerrard, though he’s more of a leader by example rather than a commander, with Jamie Carragher being constantly left out.
I am not trying to undermine other players’ mental strength or character but at the moment they lack that something that brought Liverpool first trophy in six years last February. Never mind Istanbul; the greatest night in football history.