I’ve been in London for the last week or so and was just now watching a soccer program on tv. One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to watch the local sports channels. I love immersing myself in the current goings on, and am always fascinated to hear people from different sports and backgrounds discuss similar issues.
On this occaision, there was an interview with Mike Phelan, who was previously a player with Manchester United in the late 80’s and early 90’s and who had subsequently been Sir Alex Fergusen’s Assistant Manager for the last five years. In the interview, he kept using a term which I really sat up an noticed. He talked about how, given a certain players skills, you wanted to enable them to express themselves in doing that.
He brought it up when discussing a particular highlight of a player scoring an excellent goal from a free kick from a distance out. The player was able to shoot the ball through a gap in the wall, something not all players would be able to do with such ease and with the pace he generated. He scored, with the ball rocketing past the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net. This photo is of the shot I’m talking about.
It struck me as almost selfish that the player would take that shot, given the chances of it hitting another player or being blocked were so high. Phelan, though, distilled it very simply. He said something along the lines of (not verbatim)…
“when you have a player, that’s obviously got the ability to do something like that and the tools to make it a success, you need to let him express himself in those situations on game day.”
I like that.