Gianluigi Buffon’s emotional tears following Italy’s elimination from the World Cup Qualifies touched everyone and it was only natural of the legendary goalkeeper who did everything possible for his team.
Nevertheless, there was one more scene that was also very moving, but in a different rather dazzling kind of way. This time it was Daniele de Rossi, who also hung up his boots after the match. When asked to warm up against Sweden, the Italian midfielder refused his manager’s decision and pointed to Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne instead, saying the team needed a forward to score.
For many, this was not only an act of bravery and selflessness but also correct that de Rossi realized what his team actually needed and placed more importance on his team’s greater good. Though his reaction may be understandable and even respectable, it cannot be justified. As the Guardian’s Liam Rosenior points out, de Rossi’s response threatened the authority of his manager, which could lead to anarchy.
Of course, this is something undesirable in a football team, at least in a professional team which operates in the world of industrial football.
However, given the fact that de Rossi probably knew that their coach, Gian Piero Ventura, will have been sacked if he could not win the World Cup ticket, his reaction can be seen as a necessary revolt against a failed coach. Although I still believe a coach’s authority should be held above all in a team, it is hard to cling to this argument after Ventura is sacked and Italy could not qualified to World Cup after sixty years.
The real reason I oppose de Rossi’s reaction (and the people who find his behavior not only brave but also right) is because of the general tendency of associating offensive football with forwards, which is not entirely correct.
In other words, a team’s offensive ability cannot immediately improve if the number of forwards is increased. Of course, it can give the team an edge, but the causation is between the efficiency of the strategies and the efficiency of the offense. What directly affects the offensive or defensive performance of a team is the collective action and a coach’s plan to utilize it. Thus, a player, regardless of his position, can only be effective if he suits his coach’s strategic plan. At that point, there can be no categorical difference between de Rossi and Insigne.
Surely, some people will challenge my argument by saying that, regardless of a coach’s plan, more forward players near opponent’s goal is always better when it comes to scoring a goal since at least there will be more options and threats. I clearly reject this point since this can make a team try to increase their chances of scoring only by increasing the number of forwards, but never seeking a sure way of scoring it and always leaving it to chance.
The question that must be asked here is that, how do a team score goal? If you imagine a replay of a goal, you would see that the chain of actions which leads to a goal starts way before the final shot. Thus, the preparation of a goal, which can start at any time when a team receives the ball, is as important, if not more, than the forward who takes the final shot or assists.
If you stick to the conventional idea and believe that it is not a coach’s duty to bring the ball into the opponent’s penalty box, then the burden of proof is on your shoulders to explain why it is more efficient to kick the ball directly to the forwards without implementing a sophisticated plan. Otherwise, you would have to agree with me and therefore claim that de Rossi could be at least as effective as Insigne in scoring a goal. Yes, de Rossi’s reaction was admirable, but only for his sincere emotions, not for the false rational argument behind it.
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