Saturday, November 7, 2009

When Players Go Off on Coaches

Don't you wonder what a player gains by trashing his national team coach for not including him on a team?

Take, for example, France midfielder Patrick Vieira, who verbally slapped around Raymond Domenech for not being called up for the two-game playoff with Ireland for a 2010 South Africa berth.

Here is that story. It's out there now, and soccer fans around the planet have seen it. But what did Vieira gain?

Perhaps he gained some momentary mental relief from blasting Domenech. "Ah, that felt good, mon ami!"

But how does this work for Vieira in the long term?

Is Domenech likely to change his mind here at the last moment and call in a 32-year-old who hasn't been a regular for Inter? The one who just pilloried him in L'Equipe?

If France qualifies, and Domenech continues to South Africa as coach (which seems a near-certainty), is the coach more likely to feel all warm and fuzzy about Patrick Vieira, upon further reflection, and call him in next year?

However long Raymond Domenech survives ... it now seems quite unlikely Vieira is going to appear with les bleus.

It takes some mental gymnastics to see how this helps Vieira. OK, let's try ...

If France qualifies, but looks awful doing so, like perhaps an Ireland own goal puts the French through ... maybe the French federation fires Domenech now, and hires someone for 2010, and Vieira has contributed his own bit of criticism against the guy who just got dumped, pointing out the horrible mistake he made by not calling in Patrick Vieira ... and maybe he is more likely to be seen as a positive "change" that the new coach can embrace.

Well, probably not. If anything, Vieira probably just identified himself as a crabby old guy looking for one last shot at la gloire before shuffling into the golden years of his career. It's more likely that France's next coach will say, "That Patrick Vieira is a whiny guy who will rip me if I decide he can't play anymore, so I'm not even gonna bother with him."

I guess the main idea here is ... be really careful before you trash a coach. If you're at the end of the career, and you are sure you have nothing to lose ... well, then, go for it.

If there is the slightest chance you might be called in at some later date, or that you might pop up again on the roster after a regime chance ... just keep quiet.

Save the really tart stuff for when you're a TV commentator, or having columns ghost-written for you in the press. Discretion, valor, all that.
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