Posted on June 11, 2012 2:24 pm
Oh luck… So underrated in football and in life. It seems like it hurt us to recognize that our destiny is not really defined by us but by a series of events as unpredictable and unexpected, and all that we can do is prepare as best as possible, knowing that everything can go wrong, though we did everything right.
Juan Manuel Lillo argues forcefully that managers have to be judged by the processes they undertake with clubs rather than by their results. Of course, he’s covering his own ass, but he’s also right when he states “I have done the same things in several different clubs. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but that shouldn’t change my philosophy”.
One example I often use to explain this is that of Coach Enrique Meza in Mexican side Pachuca. When his era began, his team lost their first six games. A defeat in the seventh would have given him the sack as Jesús Martínez, the club owner, accepted years later. The team won that match with a lot of luck, then became unstoppable and went on to win three titles in four years.
In Euro 2012 this examples are countless, even if so few games have been played. Yesterday I was asked in Goal.com to write an analysis piece of the Germany-Netherlands match because, with a victory, the Mannschaft would essentialy eliminate their arch-rivals. They thought I would say that Löw’s boys were favorites after defeating Portugal, while van Maarwijk’s side fell against a very limited Danish team. They were wrong. In my opinion, Holland played much better than Germany and should be considered favorites in the match between them. They created countless opportunities, completely overplayed their opponents and may have shown the more enjoyable style of any team in the tournament. They were just unlucky.
Germany on the other hand, had a four-leaf clover on their asses. While Robben and company kept on shooting balls against the posts, Gomez scored his only real chance when he was only a minute away from being substituted. Before that Pepe’s shot came back-off the bar and on the line and later on, Neuer had to work some late-time heroics to save the result.
Yesterday, it was the same in the Spain-Italy match. Cesc was, without doubt, the weakest link in Vicente del Bosque’s clearly wrong strategy, and somehow, he scored the equalizer, which made the coach feel vindicated when in realty he had screwed things up. Italy, on the other hand, played a lot worse in the second half than in the first, but could have won the match had not Balotelli not missed a very clear chance and goal-scorer Di Natale missed a volley in front of Casillas.
A second or an inch of difference can rewrite history. Of course, none of those involved, and few journalists spoke of luck when describing what happened because it is easier to find explanations, even if they are wrong. So shall we always be convinced to be right even if, in realty no one actually is, because the world is still a totally unpredictable place… and football is quite an unpredictable sport.