Saturday, 14 March 2009

Ladyman/Ireland

Fascinating interview in Saturday's Daily Mail.

The most interesting stuff is, naturally, about his transformation from an inconsistent luxury player (half way between Nani and Samir Nasri for those that weren't watching) in previous seasons to the heart beat of the time that he has now become. And while Mark Hughes has surely had a key role in this, the process started before his appointment. These are the key paragraphs:

May 11, 2008, on the A1 between Middlesbrough and Manchester. He is in his girlfriend’s car. 'It was the last day of the season and we had lost 8-1 at Boro,’ he remembers. 'I didn’t get the team bus. I got Jessica to drive me home and I thought to myself: "This can’t carry on. My career and my reputation are not right."

'After that game we didn’t even get a b******ing. I was so depressed at seeing that people didn’t really care. People were laughing. It was the worst moment of all for me.

'I decided that wasn’t a route I was going down. I didn’t want to live my life travelling home from big defeats with a smile on my face. I just felt like I had to change something after everything that had happened. So, the next day I started training. I went up to the hills in Glossop with a martial arts expert, training from 7 to 11am. I dedicated my whole summer to working with this guy.

As interesting as this is about Ireland, it also gives a strong sense of the terrible mess the club was in at the end of the Eriksson era. That players were laughing in the dressing room after an 8-1 defeat to Boro really tells us much about the shattering of managerial authority and team spirit in those spring months. And this in turn makes me more sympathetic to Hughes. If this is what he inherited, his turning City into a successful, serious football club is a much harder job than I first thought.

1 comment:

tommytheblue said...

he is highlighting the manner in which the team lost...was an act of defiance from the players against the sacking of sven which was on the cards since december.