Zemanlandia



Given his reclusion from the football world we know, and vainly claim to inhabit, this is in fact the first time Zeman is mentioned in this blog. Some might say 'so?', but then you do not know that Zeman is the patron saint of Blogistuta.

He has reached this level of semi deity for both sides of the coin that make up the man, the coach, Zeman: his unrelenting belief in the need for football to be beautiful, offensive and entertaining, and his equally unrelenting belief in justice in the world of sports. He has been ostracized from the Italian football community after numerous incidents which in their time caused quite the commotion for the powers that be. His accusation that the players of Juventus had been given chemical enhancement set off an ugly campaign tip-toeing dangerously close on the line between bad manners and libel. It wasn't restricted to the editorial page of Tuttosport; going on tv he would be called a liar, Marcello Lippi definitely crossed the aforementioned line and had vile words for the Bohemian at every turn, whether asked or not. Subsequent testimony (from Juve's current coach Ferrara, for example) proved him right, but by then no one felt like apologizing; instead it was swept under the rug.

When his Lecce later played Parma on the final day of a season he protested actively against the tradition in Italian football that on the last day, you don't try to win unless you have to. Zeman recognized in his own players that urgency had made way for contentedness, and that they weren't concerned with winning the game. At that point he turned his back to the game and stood for the duration of it staring into the stands, protesting his own players disinterest.

So it is with great excitement I see in Il Corriere dello Sport an interview with the patron saint, in a familiar re-acquaintance with his grumpiness and no-quarters-given approach to his colleagues. "Mourinho," he began, "is a great communicator who hides his own mediocrity as a coach well. I think we find Mourinho at Inter because he manages players well, and he's even better at handling journalists. To be sure the Inter fans won't ever see a beautiful style of play with him, but Inter is still the favorite to win the league, even with this lousy play, because it is the best equipped roster".

Regarding the rookie appointments of Ferrara and Leonardo, he makes no attempt to hide his disdain for their qualifications. "I can say," he quipped, "that I worked my way up in the world, and I learned a lot. It's clear that they have no need to learn anything, because they already know all there is to know".

Style wise, Ranieri is the anti thesis to Zeman, who said apropos the former's repeated statement that Roma must abandon all Spallettian remnants of flair, that "those are words that make my heart cry. Sadly, in today's football, only results matter and no one is bothered to try to entertain the public any longer".