Words from the Wise

Paper tigers don't always rule.

By DAVID WISEMAN
December 7, 2005 06:19
4 minute read.

There was some symmetry on Monday with both Galacticos coaches leaving their posts. Nir Klinger of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid's Wanderley Luxemburgo were both told their services were no longer required. Both were in charge of unacceptable seasons in which expectations were high that the star-studded sides would deliver. In the end, frustration and disappointment reigned supreme as off-field politics and bickering took center stage. Klinger was between a rock and a hard place. In wanting to celebrate the club's centenary in style, he assembled the most expensive squad this country has even seen. Eyal Berkovic, Avi Nimni, Giovanni Rosso and Blessing Kaku were the headline acts with Klinger as Dr. Frankenstein in charge of putting it together. Unfortunately his creation resembled more of a PushMePullYou than King Kong. A soft 3-2 defeat on Sunday night to Betar Jerusalem was the last straw. The axe had to fall. As it did over at the Bernab u. When the fans started applauding archrival Barcelona as they did a few weeks ago, you knew things had hit rock bottom. In Real Madrid's desire to go for style over substance it dumped Vicente del Bosque as coach in June 2003 and has probably been regretting the decision ever since. Del Bosque wasn't flashy but he got the job done. He won 104 of his 186 matches in charge, which equates to a more than adequate winning percentage of 56%. On his watch Los Merengues added two European Cups, two domestic league titles, a European Super Cup and a World Club Championship to their already bulging trophy cabinet. But it wasn't enough. Del Bosque was more than happy to let others take the spotlight and credit but at a club where image was everything this wasn't acceptable. Now the Brazilian inmates are running the asylum. All this is further confirmation that a champion team will always beat a team of champions. Egos have to be checked at the door and everyone has to be on the same page. Without this, results are going to be hard to come by regardless of what your resume says. Bill Belichick has been able to assemble this at the New England Patriots, where he has manufactured a team that operates the way a team should and the sum of the parts are far greater than that of the individual pieces. If you cast your eye at different sports around the world, you will see the same common denominator. In England, newly-promoted Wigan currently is in seventh place and West Ham is in ninth. This is a year after Everton shocked everyone with its fourth-place finish. In France, Auxerre sit in second spot. In Italy, lowly Livorno is fifth, ahead of the more highly regarded Lazio, Roma and Udinese. Everywhere you look you see the worm turning; AZ Alkmaar second in the Netherlands, Osasuna second in Spain and Hibernian third in Scotland. These teams may not win league titles but they are showing that a unified will can prevail over the check-book way. It is the same thing in baseball, where the modest Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox contested the World Series while the much more highly-resourced teams, such as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, watched on television. Cincinnati, Seattle and Chicago all have the NFL world standing up and taking notice with their amazing seasons achieved in the face of much nay-saying. Although they bring about victories, lesser-known names may not be as popular with the marketing staff and not sell as many posters and fridge magnets. David Beckham's multi-million pound move to Real Madrid may have been instantly paid back by shirt sales but what has he brought with him on the pitch? After being sent off this weekend yet again - his fourth time with Real Madrid - many would say not much. Management needs to decide whether it is in the business of winning championships or selling merchandise. dwisemanaway@hotmail.com


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