The past few days I have engaged in some really good discussion with some folks regarding the national team, and Italian football in general. A lot of what I have gleaned from these discussions seems to apply at the Rossoneri level as well as and thought it would be worth while to share my thoughts. The reason this all came up is a quote about Cesc Fabergas that I can’t seem to shake, and quite frankly find extremely admirable:
And though he admits he was not best pleased by the switch, Fabregas insists he has nothing to apologize for, saying: 'The day that they replace me and I'm not angry I will leave football.
The 21-year-old Fabregas, who has made 33 appearances for his country but only played in five full matches, added: 'They always change me when we are winning. This suggests that I need to be better in defense to be a more complete midfielder.
'I want to improve, to be a complete midfielder and show to everyone that I can play in both positions, as much in attack as defense.'
When I read that quote I quickly surveyed my brain for an Italian player or even a Milan player that seems to have this kind of mentality game in and game out for both club and country, and though some come to mind, this consistent show of effort and desire seems to be a big thing missing from my club and country. So as I have naturally been trained to do I usually ask why and in this case I realized that an answer was extremely hard to come by? Put yourselves for a second in the shoes of your favorite player, be it Milan or not, so many different factors govern their reasons or motivations for why they are on the pitch, and it is impossible to pin point the exact reason for a lack of effort, and in fact many of those variables you can’t control, but we can at least discuss the ones that can be controlled.
A coach is a big factor in motivating his players, but also putting them in positions to succeed two factors that make a player more apt to perform well. Another big issue is to have a coach who the players are willing to give their it their all for it. This is big issue with England fans who feel that their boys can’t possibly want to give it their all for a Cappello, an Italian. In the same vain guys like Lampard and Terry, both Brits, have said that they would give their all for Mourinho so you can debunk that myth right there, but what happened to a guy like Carletto who used to show emotion and instill rage in the hearts of guys like Rino, Kaladze, Ambro, and even Dida? Do the motivational tactics or maybe the coach get worn thin? It is hard to tell and is something worth exploring at some point with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson who has been in the same post for a very long time.
Motivation is a good issue and ties directly into the Coach, and as I pondered more on Milan players I noticed this gem that was provided by Shehan from our very own Ricky Kaka.
“There has always been something that stopped me from listening to my body in recent times.
“For example, the knee would be painful but we had a European Super Cup to win, and then I wanted the Ballon d’Or and then the games in Yokohama. It kept going like that until I had to stop.”
That motivation that kept Kaka going despite his injury may not be something that keeps the next guy going. For example maybe Dinho is just plain satifisfied with all that he has done and is content with picking up his paycheck and playing his games. That is where Carletto, or any coach for that matter, needs to find the fire inside of that player and make it come out on the pitch.
The final issue for player motivation, ties again right back to the coach and the way he puts the players on the pitch. A player, any player needs to be put into a position to succeed and as Carletto struggles to find a place for all his new attackers, it seems that Lippi has the exact opposite problem when it comes to the Azzurri. There is no sense in forcing eleven players into an uncomfortable formation when in fact a coach can bend his tactics to make things work.
To kind of bring us back full circle, the main reason for my post was the lack of heart and pride I am seeing not only at the San Siro, but on the Azzurri as well. I still hope the best for Milan, the season is young and I have
the utmost faith that Carletto will lead us through, but I lack the same optimism for the Azzurri.
The bottom line really for me at least is that Azzurri seem to be disorganized and lack any real sense of tactics anymore to get the job done. In 06 the roles seemed to be clearly defined and everyone worked to their full potential, it now seems like we are playing a “get out there and see what happens” type system, which is plain stupid for a country who has always both technically and tactically sound.
Have I given up hope? No never, but I can use a bit of light in what is looking like a dark tunnel…
**On a side note our pal Hana asked me to post this up:
So, this fall, I'm volunteering with this wonderful UK charity called Link Ethiopia, that supports education in Ethiopia. I'm going to be teaching English for three months in Ethiopia, going to be really stellar and all. But besides sending people there to teach English, one of the ways they reach out to Ethiopian youth is through...football! The universal language of the world. So, to raise money for Link Ethiopia, they had John Barnes (England/Liverpool legend) run around for a week throughout England and collect 19 EPL jerseys, signed by team members, to auction off on Ebay (Have a look at the Chelsea one!). The whole thing is really brilliant, and I'm just spreading the word to people that might be interested. You guys on the Milan Offside are basically my football family, so who better to ask?
Information is right here: http://www.linkethiopia.org/get_involved/score/index.html
The actual ebay store with pictures of John Barnes with each of the shirts in each respective stadium: