Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A squad divided against itself cannot stand

The revelations in Tuesday's Mail and Indy about the players further emphasises a point I made in a piece called 'The Problem' on Sunday night.

The squad seems divided between the pro-Hughes and the anti-Hughes players. In the 'pro' camp are Kompany (our next captain, I imagine), Zabaleta, SWP and Ireland. They have no memories of the Eriksson era, or in Ireland's case, few positive ones.

The anti-Hughes camp is made up of various forces. There is primarily an attachment to the Eriksson era: its continental tactics, its laidback methods, its disciplinary laissez-faire. Then there is a old professional's distaste for Hughes' vigorous fitness regime. Finally there is the Brazilian clique. Hughes did not choose to have Elano or Jo at the club, and, according to whom you believe, neither was Robinho. Glauber was a Hughes buy, but presumably does not carry much weight.

The leader of the antis seems to be Elano - fulfilling all three of the above criteria. Hamann and Dunne are both Eriksson players and old pros who don't want to spend their days sprinting. Nor do Vassell and Ball - two Keegan buys (FAIL - both Pearce signings, sorry). Ben Haim is a Hughes buy but does not quite seem to fit in. Hart and Richards have not been as good as they were last year, but they're both here on long term deals and could well improve in time under Hughes.

But what of Robinho? The extent of his personal loyalty is going to be a big factor in our 2009 performances. If he thinks Hughes has a vendetta against his old friend from Santos and the Seleção he could well not meet the performance levels we've enjoyed for the last few months. He didn't show himself to be very mentally stable at Real Madrid - if he wants to cause a fuss when Elano's gone we could be in real trouble.

Of course, this doesn't cover everyone. There are certain players we can't be clear on. I imagine if we weren't about to buy Wayne Bridge then Javi Garrido would very much be a 'Hughes player', given his poor form last year and his striking improvement under Hughes. We can't be clear about Bozhinov, but he seems like a Hughes one to me. The other long term absentees, Johnson and Petrov both flourished under Sven, but have not been fit enough to take sides yet.

This is mainly conjecture based on what's readily available in the national press and my own interpretation of it. If you have any theories of your own, or, even better, evidence from inside, please let us know.


Football 足球 The language of the beautiful game said...

Well firstly Vassell and Ball were both bought by Stuart Pearce when we didn't have a pot to piss in. Dunne is one of the best trainers at the club and I doubt he would still be captain under a Hughes if this was not the case. Richards is said to be a poor trainer. Some of the best players of all time have been useless in training and there's more to management that a military training regime.

Richards doesn't have any excuse however because he has been equally as poor in games and is lack of footballing ability on the ball is becoming embarrassing. Great athlete and physique but he needs to improve technically and learn to concentrate - too much Pro Evo like David James methinks.

Garrido has been positive about Hughes' training methods in the press and has had a upturn in form presumably as a result so you can probalymake an educated guess that he is happy.

I disagree that Bridge would be a great signing as I believe he would only be a slight improvement on Garrido. Bridge is not blessed with pace and SWP used to skin him with alarming regularity before he moved to Chelsea. Being an English player and in his late 20's surely a younger first teamer from Europe would be better value. He doesn't play often, has a history of injuries, and just how hungry he will be to move up north for the first time in his career after years of comfort at Chelsea is questionable. Technically he is very good and would give our back line some much needed extra height - but pace is the key quality of modern day up and down full backs and in this respect he is lacking.

JPB said...

Sorry about the mistake on Vassell and Ball.
Interesting about Dunne being a good trainer, I'd got the impression he hadn't taken well to the Hughes regime. Bridge isn't Clichy quick but I think he's quicker than Garrido. I always thought Garrido's problems were physical rather than technical, and while he's got stronger he remains very one paced for a Premier League fullback.

tommytheblue said...

i think i'm quicker than garrido. (no im not!)

dont rate bridge, he is average at best, a good back up player, thats why he is a backup player!

Foreign players, especially the likes of boj who has spent a fair time in italy wont be used to Hughes training, trianing methods and lifestyles are very different. hughes program causes unrest becasue they are not used to, and that he has only implemented on small scale at his previous club not being as big as ours.

you only have to look at taggarts treatment of ronaldo to recognise hughes iron fist policy is relentless and wrong. Certian players (the best ones) need to be treated differently becasue they are different.

BluePeter said...

It's a clash of footballing cultures; Sven's approach, the wily European, used to handling big egos; Hughes, really just starting out, a firm believer in the strong work ethic allied to physical fine tuning and discipline.
Who's to say in time Hughes carry marry the two together?
For the time being you either trust him or you don't. If you don't it's 'Hughes out'; if you do it's time to be patient.
Either way it's going to be a bumpy road but Hughes appears to have a plan and is convinced of his own ability, so too are his bosses - for now.

jfell said...

Unfortunately I don’t think we have to wait until either Johnson or Petrov are fit to find out if either of them are “Hughes type” players. Petrov would rather stick pins in his eyes than get involved in a 50-50 challenge and you can count the number of times he’s headed a ball on your thumbs. Embarrassing really until you see him jet down the wing and put in fantastic crosses to non-existent strikers. I don’t see this one dimensional play sitting well with Hughes though. With regards to Johnson I see no concrete evidence of his “Big-Time Charlie” attitude but as they say, “there’s no smoke without fire,” and there is sure a lot of smoke around Johnson. Don’t imagine Hughes likes smokers...

These two players are what we’ve missed this year, central midfield has regressed each week to the point that Kompany and Ireland could start to look poor by association. If we had an on-song Johnson we could play Kompany in defence, Petrov, Ireland, Johnson and SWP in midfield and Benjani or Jo and Robinho up front.

p.s. Keep up the good work and make sure you get a good rest over Christmas...I think you’ll be busy in January!