Yes, you heard me right, and I know you have been taught the other way around since you reached your age of reason. As a student of a university which is completely English, I see this rhetoric versus truth issue in almost all the papers I read, and I have to say that the papers on football are the worst at that point.
Strangely, notions that you would not even take seriously without a sufficient justification like passion, hard work, faith and etc. are all valid in football writing, and apparently no one cares to dig into those concepts. But guess what, the bad cop is here.
As I said, I was always aware of this problem and pretty much disturbed by it, but it was the Guardian's coverage of Antonio Conte: The Special One video that made me feel like Socrates in ancient Greece, drowning in rhetorical waterfalls.
One of the fans said, "He [Conte] is the one that has driven them (Chelsea) forward. He has given the players passion and improved their fitness."
Also a commentator for Guardian said, "His mantra has always been work, work, work. He just drills them in every training."
Well yeah, all of us know that motivation, fitness and training are central for football, but you can fulfill those requirements even without a coach. Nowadays even contracts themselves are motivating enough and still there can be people that are all motivation but almost no coaching, like Fatih Terim.
Added to that, you can hire a professional trainer to maximize a player's fitness and football skills, and then everything seems right, eh? But somehow football teams still hire coaches, or in Turkish as we say, technical directors. I assure you ladies and gentleman, that is something much different than what is mentioned above.
However, my fellow readers would know that I have a much more different and sophisticated definition of a coach in my mind. To me a coach's first and foremost duty is creating the collective actions which will enable the team act as a team rather than bunch of individuals.
In order to do that, he must consider time and space, or in other words; length, width, depth and time as four dimensions in every position. He can use formations, set pieces and positioning to do that, but they cannot be a strategy in themselves, they can only help the team execute their collective action in every moment of the game.
For instance, the definition I gave above is an argument which I can justify, or in famous philosopher Karl Popper's words, falsifiable one. However, in almost all football pieces you see words that have no meaning or only the emotional responses. This is crucial because fans usually form their ideas about football by comments they hear on the media, and therefore they do not actually know where to criticize or praise, as if a kid who wants something, they only understand and appreciate the result, nothing more.
But football cannot be played and philosophized like that, and I am not sure if one should be worried that Turkish football media lacks the rhetoric Western media has. Somehow you cannot hide the lack of understanding by rhetoric in Turkish and the truth is always crystal clear about the columnists.
Nonetheless, Turkish media has its own sickness, namely the obsession with individual talent and formations. Both are equally dangerous for the development of football and need to be carved out from the language of football, except in the case that you are a cheap football romantic of course.
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