Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Ghost and The Butler

The Ghost:
How does he do it? He floats around the football field. He glides where others walk. He lurks just out of eyesight. He stalks his prey with the intimacy of a shadow. He feels the defenses’ edges and weak points with his unblinking gaze. He materializes when he so desires; never too soon, never too late. Defenders reach for his shirt but grasp at nothing. Studs tackle thin air. Some praise Ozil as a “thinking” player. However, Ozil is not playing chess: he’s playing hide and go seek. And he’s playing by his own rules of physics.
The Butler:
 His role with England is also deceptively vital. There is a filibustering quality to his guided hustle, granting a sense of control that is essential for a manager who appears to have decided that if this cautious England are to win games here they must above all avoid conceding the first goal. Milner is key to maintaining parity in those fraught opening minutes, which in three matches so far have been notable for the oddly captivating spectacle of his ever-scurrying legs.The role of the dependable serf, the royal butler, is a familiar one in the history of England managerdom. Alf Ramsey united his dressing room by defending Nobby Stiles after his dreadful tackle on the France midfielder Jacques Simon at the 1966 World Cup. Sven-Goran Eriksson had his Heskey-curious side, but perhaps Sven's Milner was instead Nick Barmby, another shrewd Mr Fix-it midfielder with an air of pachyderm obedience, and an emblem of the good times before the stasis of late-Sven midfield celebrity-gorge. Graham Taylor is remembered for his improbables, the revolving door of one-night stands and pressed men during a period when England's whole world seemed to turn a shade of Andy Sinton. This was Taylor's problem. He never found his Milner.Happily, Hodgson already has: Milner is his Milner.
The above two paragraphs are from two fascinating blog links (that I got through twitter) in the last couple of days. The first one about Mesut Ozil is by Futfanatico and the link is here. The next one about James Milner is by Barney Ronay and the link is here. You cannot get two more contrasting players. And for the time being, both seem to represent the contrasting nature of their national teams.
PS: These two pieces were so good that I wanted to bookmark them here.

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