Wednesday, September 27, 2006


A Bit of Passion

Terry Butcher has done a fine job making himself unpopular over the last couple of weeks. His most recent public comments, concerning his well-publicized contretemps with Alvin Ceccoli, are provocative to say the least.

Firstly, there is the barely-veiled counterattack on a certain media outlet, whose experts (I use the term advisedly) have been making some admittedly overblown criticisms of Sydney FC’s boss:

“I'm quite taken aback by people questioning my coaching style. For the most part these are people who have never coached football at the highest level - and what the hell would they know?”

Yes, Mr. Foster, that was directed at you.

Although the SBS criticism has been excessive, Butcher is probably not going to improve his popularity making comments like the above. Especially if Sydney FC continue to put on atrocious performances like that perpetrated in New Zealand last Thursday.

Then, there comes a reference to his own abrasive touchline manner, which elicited Ceccoli’s four-letter blast:

“I'm not going to take a blind bit of notice to what they say. I'm very passionate about the game and I deeply want my team to win every time - that's all it comes down to. Besides, if it's good enough for Phil Scolari, why can't I do it?”

Sadly, Big Phil – perhaps the most over-rated manager in world football – has become a convenient idol for coaches whose preferred method of managing from the bench is the torrent of abuse.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of passion from the dugout, of course. Most of history’s great managers have been known to get the veins on their forehead pumping now and then. But they keep their explosive outbursts for the explosive moments of the game, their expletives for the desperate times.

Butcher, in the opinion of many, has been overdoing it of late.

At the World Cup, Guus Hiddink provided what I thought was a good balance. Generally calm and ostensibly thoughtful on the bench, he wasn’t afraid to bark out the orders, or show some emotion, when the situation demanded.

My favourite Guus story from the tournament involved the frantic, and ultimately triumphant, final ten minutes of Australia’s match against Japan. After Tim Cahill’s historic equaliser, Lucas Neill rushed over to his already highly animated manager on the touchline, asking for further instructions – should the ’roos content themselves with a draw, or play for more?

An English journalist, who had the opportunity to talk to Neill off-the-record shortly after the game, recounted to me the Dutchman’s response.

“F--k it, let’s go for it!” was Hiddink’s instruction to his charge.

Now that’s the sort of passion I like.

Couldn't agree more Mike. If Butcher was producing a knockout of a team, he'd be able to get away with a lot more. Meanwhile however, Ernie Merrick (MV) keeps a very cool countenance whilst racking up the points.

Butcher is merely managing to shout out, "I'm a loser, I'm a loser," as loudly as possible.
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