It’s so rare these days that a football manager says anything new or remotely intelligent other than the rehearsed lines he memorizes from media training. Other than Joe Kinnear, of course.
But Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said so many refreshing things on Friday that I felt compelled to write about it. When asked about the massive blow of Michael Ballack being injured, here’s how Scolari responded:
”Ballack is out for maybe two or three weeks. ‘I’m not angry. I’m happy because it’s a test for me that I’m a good coach. I need to change it, to improve, I need to put other players in, I need to motivate other players. It’s good for my job, it’s good for my work. It’s not difficult for me. For me it’s normal, I need to build every week, one different team. Many clubs have injuries from the national games because they are strong games. In football it’s normal.”
To me, those words are poetry to my ears. And I’m not even a Chelsea supporter. The words and perspective he brings is so refreshing. If I was a reserve player at Stamford Bridge, I would feel so empowered by his words knowing that there’s an opportunity to advance under Scolari’s tutelage.
Contrast Scolari’s words with those of Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez regarding the injury to Fernando Torres:
“I am very disappointed about this because it now looks like we will lose Fernando for three very important games. There are too many international games and the demands on the players are too much. Someone needs to analyse the situation because it is putting the players at risk of injury.”
What are the chances of changing international fixtures for World Cup qualifying matches? Practically nil. So why moan about it when you’re unable to change it? Why not think positive and consider Torres’s injury as an opportunity for Liverpool’s Robbie Keane, David N’Gog, Ryan Babel, Dirk Kuyt or El Zahr to shine up front for the Reds?