The thin red line between Abdullah Avcı and Şenol Güneş

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 04.11.2019 15:47

One of the best perks of being a philosophy graduate is to have the habit of questioning prejudices and dogmas. The tricky nature of these types of belief models is that they seem so naturally true to us that we do not even realize that they are false without an external force. Recently I caught myself being too empathetic toward new Beşiktaş manager Abdullah Avcı, while I was extremely critical of former manager Şenol Güneş. These two managers used similar methods to achieve similar goals, but my reaction to them was completely different. Then I thought, if there is no essential difference between the intentions of these managers, I was being merely biased.

The reason why I emphasize intention more than any other concept is that it is a central theme in the field of ethics. You might have heard the famous example: You have a gun in your house and your neighbor asks for your gun to commit a crime. Would you give him the gun or lie and act as if you do not have it at that moment? Of course, lying, in itself, is an undesirable, anti-social behavior that may harm individuals. But in this case, it can be helpful. Thus, even though it is a bad behavior in itself, in certain contexts it can be a good behavior, and the most crucial element in evaluating any concept is the intentions of the person in action.

Then, we can do the same experiment with Abdullah Avcı and Şenol Güneş to see whether I am actually biased. Both managers implemented a rather simplistic strategy of giving the initiative to the opponent and utilizing the simple mistakes. There was not a well-organized, complex set piece about brining the ball from point A to point B in both cases and therefore both of them were essentially chaotic. I find this approach to be less effective than organized, complex strategies as these are repeatable, reliable strategies which can increase a team's performance in the long-term.

However, I can justify Abdullah Avcı's decision while I cannot do the same for Şenol Güneş. After insisting on a complex strategy for two months, Avcı had to give up on his plan due to the financial crisis in the club and the lack of talented players in the squad. Of course, it is possible to play an organized, talented game with talentless players, that is the magic of football. But when a poor administration and a financial crisis is combined with a lacking squad, a manager has to prioritize keeping his team alive. That is what Avcı had to do, even though he genuinely tried to build a more efficient strategy.

But Güneş had both the support of the entire club and enough talented players while he was the manager of Beşiktaş for four years. Still, he chose to implement an unsophisticated strategy of giving the ball to Quaresma and expecting magic. Even though he won a championship with this strategy, it turned out to be too simplistic for the long-term. Had he invested more in a complex strategy, Beşiktaş could have had a game that is beyond the standards of Turkish football, because he had all the ingredients but a daring mentality. Avcı dared and failed, that is why he gets to start all over again, but Güneş did not even try.

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