No hidden coalitions, but coaches should build national teams

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 01.09.2017 00:25

As the Turkish national team goes into decisive games in their World Cup qualifying campaign, the latest hot topic of Turkish football is the ongoing preparations for the national team. New coach Mircea Lucescu named his squad for Ukraine and Croatia games, in which the Turkish national team has to get at least four points to maintain their hopes of qualifying. Nevertheless, as usual, the squad could not meet the expectations of the Turkish football media and especially Beşiktaş's captain Oğuzhan Özyakup's absence was highly criticized. At this point, one must ask the question of in what ways is coaching a regular team and a national team different? Is a national team coach's duty to bring all the individually top performer players together, or does he create a team that is aligned with his strategies and may very well leave out some talented players? Unfortunately Lucescu could not resist the overwhelming pressure of the first option in Turkey and called Özyakup to the squad in a very awkward manner.

First of all, the central question here is not whether Lucescu was right or wrong in not calling up Özyakup to the squad in the first place. I see Özyakup as a very versatile midfielder with decent playmaking skills, and I sincerely believe that he can be very beneficial for the national team. Nevertheless, neither me nor the rest of the Turkish football media are paid for being the coach of the Turkish national team, and it is Mircea Lucescu who has to create an overall strategy and a suitable squad. Thus, it is only possible to comment whether he did right or wrong after we see the results against Ukraine and Croatia. Then, we can say that he needed to have Özyakup in the squad in the first place or he should have not called him up despite the popular view. All comments that ignore context say nothing at all.

The real question is, why Lucescu could not resist this nonsense? When he was appointed, the Turkish Football Federation justified their choice by emphasizing Lucescu's experience and knowledge of Turkish football. So, it seemed that they trusted Lucescu's ability to save World Cup qualifying, but apparently they thought it was not enough and they had to intervene to guarantee complete media support. Now, as if Lucescu's arrival in the middle of qualifiers was not enough to prove the short-sightedness of the federation, they are now making everything even more chaotic and ungovernable because of their panic. If not Lucescu, but a coalition of retired football players and federation executives are going to prepare the team for the World Cup, why did they appoint the Romanian coach in the first place?

Even though Fatih Terim is gone now, his vision of utter chaos is still in charge of the national team, and will always be in charge until a greater force prevents it. The Turkish national team may very well get the desired results against Ukraine and Croatia and qualify to the World Cup, but what next? How can the next generations of football players and teams be designed while the ones who rule football are blinded by short-term success? If Özyakup's case prove one thing, it is that the rotten coalition that rules Turkish football must fall for a better future.

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