Posted in Friday, Personal Observations, Sport

#Friday 21.0: PSG showed us the human disorder around buying success

Each week I will (try and) share a small segment of something useful I learnt. While this is for my own amusement I hope it resonates with my lovely readers.

Are we talking football (or soccer)

Football is merely the example to help drive my point. Don’t let it put you off.

Some context?

PSG – “Paris Saint-Germain” is a football club which doesn’t have a 100 year odd rich history in the game such as clubs you may akin to like Liverpool FC, Manchester United or Real Madrid, and it was never considered a superpower. Founded in 1970, it steadied it’s way within the French first division quite unnoticed.

So something changed?

In 2011 Qatar Sports Investments – or QSi – bought Paris Saint-Germain. QSi is subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) – and that’s the state-run sovereign-wealth fund in Qatar. In a nutshell the Qatar group have quite a few billions in their wallet and their objective has been not only to win the French premier division every year, a feat which the team are achieving, but to also win the holy grail which is the European Champions League (ECL). Basically it’s a competition in which all the top 4 teams from each league compete, for pride and oodles of money. The owners were going to achieve this by buying the very best players (through offering lucrative contracts and lots of money), putting them in the team and hoping they’ll gel and work their magic. Has it worked? Hell No!

Yeah but Rome wasn’t built in a day

I get that. But that quote works well when you know the project is “work in progress” and there’s some vision around the club to a long term goal of sustainability. PSG have tried on numerous occasions to win the elite competition but have failed at the pinnacle moment, and when the tough got going, they wanted to turn and run the other way. On 9th March PSG played Real Madrid (Spanish team) in round two of the ECL. PSG were 1-0 up from the first match and in this return leg, scored another to lead 2-0 and looked like coasting to victory. Then in the 60th minute the PSG goalkeeper had a I’m bored so I’ll try a trick or two moment, fluffed his lines and conceded what looked like the most unlikeliest of goals. Fast forward 15 minutes and Real Madrid capitalised on some real nervous, slow reacting and I can’t be bothered because I’m too big for my boots attitude to score two more goals, win the game 3-1 and progress through to the QF’s.

..And this showed us?

When the owners brought the club in 2011 two words probably came to their mind – World Domination. They brought players offering the paradise of high wages, as opposed to investing in youth players. Those players, with their inflated wages came with inflated ego’s…ego’s so big that no manager has managed to control it. Those players, along with the short term vision of the club has created an environment where the very human characteristics of passion, desire, team work, courage and pride have been packed and locked away in the boot room. The owners haven’t been able to buy success but have hit the lowest point in the clubs history. You can’t buy what you think is the best, assemble it and see if it glues. PSG have become an example of that human condition where we want instant success, instant everything, like the noodles….but we all know what they taste like.

Posted in Random Posting

Dear Parent – The SAGA continues (Pains of football coaching)

Continuation from my last moan!

Dear Parent,

So once again you have another moan at me for substituting your son, who again had a nightmare game yesterday.  He played 23 out of the 40 minutes but you felt that this was a “token gesture”.

I am not best pleased with your attitude and total disregard of the team with you solely focusing on your child and whether he get’s to play the whole game or not.

Well to let you know, I have just printed out a letter which I have constructed and will be posting it through your letter box this evening.  In it, it states reasons and justifications for my actions and my job as coach to protect the interests of the team, not individuals.  So, as you will read near the bottom of the letter, I will continue to make changes where I see fit during the game. If you find this too unreasonable, then I am happy to hand you back your son’s registration form and wish him the best of luck in the future.

Signed: stressed coach!

Posted in Personal Observations

Dear Parent….. (Pains of football coaching)

Dear Parent,

Yesterday your son kicked off his second season with the rest of the team and it was a tough opener.  The day before I spent much time in training going through defensive drills and all the boys were clear on what they needed to do.

When the match started, your son spent the first 10 minutes watching the attackers rush by and in no time we were 2 – 0 down.  It was not your son’s fault, however the opposition started targeting their play down his side and he was not enjoying it at all.

I therefore persisted with substituting him with another defender, a more experienced player who has lost his regular place in the team because he attends Saturday school where they play sports.  As you know, the match started to swing in our favour and after being 3 -0 down, we managed to end the game on 3 – 3.

You were rightly annoyed that your son only got limited time on the pitch and you pointed to the fact that it was because the other player was better.  Please let me explain.  This had nothing to do with ability; I looked at the match in general and felt that he was not going to have an easy ride, so I took the decision to replace him.  You must remember that this is a “team game” and that I will make decisions based on whatever is in the best interest of the team.  If I felt that by substituting your son with a stronger player and stemming the flow of goals, that we would give ourselves a chance, then that is what I did.  My decision worked in our favour but in the process upset you, so for this I am truly sorry.

But you must remember, I only think in the best interest of the team and will not make decisions just to please parents.  I have full faith in your son and I hope he can continue to take what he learns in training into the match.  It’s a long season with lots of games, and things will improve.

Yours, Coach.

Words that have been zooming in my head since yesterday’s incredible fight back from the boys.  I was in high spirits after the match only to be on the end of a “grilling” by a parent, I just wanted to go home after that and had a miserable day.  Is it all worth it?

Posted in Travel

A Son’s First Football Experience at Anfield, Liverpool

Just this weekend we took my son to watch Liverpool FC  play their opening match against Sunderland FC.  If he was already in shock when we walked around the stadium, then he got one major surprise when he walked through the turnstile and onto the ground. My son is not one to keep quiet, but for at least 15 minutes he was shell-shocked, 40,000 fans singing and shouting.

What was more pleasing was the sight of his favourite players warming up on the pitch.  As the game wore on, he became fully climatised and was spotted displaying a “Loser” sign to the opposing fans, that’s my boy.  Some pics/video’s from the day…..

My son Rajan with his cousin Kabir – these boys never rest

Walking Alongside the Stadium with Uncle Ricky

Rajan with Dad and Uncle Ricky – still shell shocked I think

Liverpool Squad Shaking Hands before the match

Posing with the One Shankly

Posted in Family

Were you this Passionate about something as a kid?

A few nights ago, as I was sitting upstairs listening to some music, suddenly there’s this ruffle sound coming from the hallway downstairs.  It would then stop, then start up again, it was as if something was being arranged, re-arranged.  I turned down the music and made my way downstairs, no sound now, no trace of anyone/anything.  I dismissed it!

The next morning, I open the shoe cupboard in the hallway, the top drawer where my shoes are kept only to find this… Continue reading “Were you this Passionate about something as a kid?”