Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Thursday, August 26, 2004

There's no I in team

You have to hand it to Arsenal as they break record after record. They have so many players with pace and intelligence that they can be an absolute delight to watch in full flow. It's fair to say that quite often they expose the defending in "the best league in the world" as being second-class, but irrespective of quibbles about the Premiership's quality, they are the best team in it by a street.

The mark of a great player or team in any sport is his/their ability to make the game look simple where everyone else makes it look hard. Just have a look how often Arsenal do the following. A striker, often Henry, finds himself in a clear goalscoring position, but instead of shooting he squares it to a team mate who taps into an empty net. Arsenal do this all the time. Compare and contrast with, say, the epitome of English centre forwards, Alan Shearer. Have you ever seen Shearer do that ? I'm racking my brains, in vain. People will say something like "Well you don't score 9 grillion Premiership goals without a bit of a selfish streak". Hmmm. Henry seems to do ok. And for all his goals, how many medals are there in Alan Shearer's cabinet ? One title with Blackburn. That's it.

In any team sport, at any level, when you have players whose first priority is maintaining their place on the team, or their status within it, that detracts considerably from the effectiveness of the team. A team whose players are all choosing the best option for the team ahead of themselves will have a great advantage. I don't blame players for this entirely ; there are still plenty of "old school" managers out there who only know one way to motivate. Criticise and follow this up with "prove me wrong". This works for some people, not for others. For many players this approach simply undermines confidence and encourages them to take the selfish option on the pitch.

Just like poker (I was getting there eventually), leaving your ego at home is very beneficial.


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