Interview for Those Relegated Souls

Hello Readers,

It’s no secret that I play Football Manager. I find it to be a very rewarding game that will eat away countless hours of your life. With that in mind I can’t seem to pry myself away from progressing with the teams I play with. In this post I am assuming my current season with a second division team will end with us getting relegated to a lower division. That is the exact opposite of my goal for the season. Read along:

I: Tell me about yourself.

D: I’m a failed manager whose team got relegated to the 3rd division…

I: Last Place?

D: No. We were so close to staying where we were, but a bad run of form in the middle of the season and patchy form throughout the end condemned our relegation.

I:It’s all about form. Would you like to stay on as manager?

D: I would very much like to stay on as manager and bring the team back up to the second division. It feels like a take one step back and then take one step forward to end up where we started. It depends on the owner if I stay.

I: Seeing managers get more time to deliver results is something that should come back…

D: That’s the nature of the game today. It’s always been a results driven business, but that is inflated because of money. Money is plentiful to some in the game today.

I: You want to edit these results?

D: I can’t edit what has already happened. This isn’t a videogame where I can keep several saves and just go back to a previous one when results don’t go my way. The results of this season will stay in history, but I can achieve positive results that will push the current ones away.

I: Editing is part of my day. I will edit this interview and the show it’s on. It’s interesting how we have different ideas of editing. How will you spend your off-season?

D: I’ll take a short vacation before starting preparations for next season. I’m not saying a vacation is a reward. It’s a way to get rid of stress and come back with fresh eyes.

I: And the players?

D: I want them to enjoy the time they have to themselves. It helps to step away from a negative situation. There’s a lot of work to be done in both the physical and psychological sense.

I: You prepare the mind?

D: My staff, the medical department, and I put a lot of emphasis on mental management. I am not of the opinion that players shouldn’t expressed their emotions. Get angry! Celebrate in your style when scoring a goal! What we do is help players channel those emotions into the game. Emotions can become fuel if managed correctly.

I: I assume a lot of sad faces in the locker room after the last game.

D: Yes. I told my players it was okay to cry and make noise. I already had plans for preseason in that locker room. They need to know I’m looking ahead.

More of this fake interview will be available in the coming months. I hope you enjoyed reading the mindset of a defeated soccer manager. If you’ve read my blog from time to time you know that I view failures as opportunities to learn. I don’t think a person can have an 100% success rate all the time.

Fake.

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Emotional Intelligence

I was reading a BBC article the other day on how to make the perfect footballer. The section that struck me the most was when the discussion of football intelligence came up. It’s something that’s common sense, but gets the best of us sometimes. As a fan my emotional intelligence is that of a child without a juice box. I am keenly aware of how footballer probably feels, when stepping on the pitch, through interviews I’ve read and seen. My expertise ends there and it would be in the interest of all to not quote my last sentence. Those emotions must be 100x greater than my childish like straw sucking,

What is my point? Controlling negative emotions and turning them into wine is what Southampton emphasizes to their players and nit what Jesus did. I mean he does make wine but not from the angry, fuming, volcano blowing emotions of us punitive beings, Instead of earning yourself a red card for kicking out at an opponent, why not up their annoyance by marking and having him or her kick you? I know first hand how easy it is to not control emotions and end up committing yourself to an act of stupidity. The result is that I do not achieve the desired outcome that I was expecting. A red card for any team automatically puts them at a numerical disadvantage where tactics have to be changed with a more defensive flavor in mind.

Is emotional intelligence a factor in why the players of Southampton sell integrate themselves so quickly at their new clubs? Gareth Bale had a very fine first season with Real Madrid in which he scored in two cup finals. In a game where anything but a victory puts you in the same space as the other teams eliminated those are the moments you want to conquer. It’s a challenge to step up for the big moments and that must be applauded. Calum Chambers was thrown into the Arsenal first team as a centerback/rightback due to the numerous injuries at the beginning of the season and he performed well. Playing the game in a dirty manner via time wasting and or diving is part of the game just like those players who try to prevent teammates from swarming the instigator of a verbal spat or a bad tackle.

Another positive from this is the positivity that arises fromĀ  a club taking mental health into account. Not just in the form of football, but in our modern society, mental health should be put on the same pedestal as physical pain. It affects many people among other professions with massive stress even if its just kicking a ball around. It’s encouraging to see progressive advances taking place when in other decades of the sport something like this might have taken a backseat to other issues. The athletes are in sports, but it’s we the fans who consume a product that results from the mass expectations of those who built it. Fans, internal drive, and and the clubs who employ these players are bricks building up this wall of expectation and that comes at the price of mental instability in the cases of some players.

Others Go, But A Defensive Midfielder Stays

Defensive Midfield is a position made famous by the likes of Pep Guardiola, Patrick Viera, Claude Makalele, and Sergio Busquets. It’s withing the midfield, specifically in the back, where this position breaks up plays like a jackhammer on concrete. Throughout the years, tall, muscular, and hard hitting players with a touch of technique have taken that spot. Within the last six years an evolution of the spot has allowed small and technical players to take these spots away from the Vieras of the sport. I’m not saying that brute strength has left the sport. Physicality has transcended to a more technical style of contact.

A nimble DM will draw fouls and intercept passes with good positioning. Lionel Messi, while playing a different position, is able to draw fouls with his dribbles. It’s two distinct positions that follow the same concept. You slide in for a tackle to win the ball, and then what? That ball has to be passed forward to be distributed by the rest of the midfield. A DM not only wins the ball back, but has to be the eyes of the team. A quick pass or a long cross to the winger cutting inside can make a counter attack from a turnover. If not, at least you keep possession for your team.

What about the defensive in defensive midfielder Daniel? I’m only two paragraphs in and nowhere close to ending this post. In a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation, your defensive players pushing up to congest the midfield leave gaps. This results due to midfielders pushing up to increase the attacking options. You have two centerbacks attempting to cover the back line. When this occurs, the DM moves down and adds another body to the defensive line. When their team is defending, the DM is a shield for the back four. He is the first line of resistance to prevent a goal from bombarding the net. This will either be enough to recover the ball or give the defense enough time to organize themselves.

A DM is an essential cog in any of the popular tactics used today. I believe that having a midfielder stay behind the half line is the only way to achieve balance in modern football. Real Madrid has committed the mistake of selling their DM twice, and both times they have been left with an abundance of attacking players in the front, without a link to start transitions. These DM’s are an engine that is felt on all sides of the pitch. They are the one brick that makes a wall structurally sound. The wall collapses if it’s taken out.