Perspectives on Summer

Chapter I: Him





More than half a decade ago I watched with fascination the Lecce team Zdenek Zeman had created, in which played Mirko Vucinic who was one of its biggest benefiters. A club which had turned dancing on the line between serie A and serie B into an art-form, struggling to remain in A to then ease back into it from launching pad B, took the game to everyone. Big or small, Lecce attacked relentlessly and unapologetically (As Biggie Smalls put it ten years prior; "Lace up your boots, 'cos I'm about to shoot/A true motherfucker going out for the loot"). In this, one player shone brighter than the rest of the yellow-red striped flurry. Watching Vucinic play back then was fun. Apologies for the trivial word, but there's really no better word for it than that. He combines skills which are enchanting to watch and decisive to his team with an even bigger talent of making you feel entertained by watching him. If it isn't the goals, it's the celebrations.

The price of having him close enough to watch him play twice a week, however, was exposure to his more infuriating traits. These are best captured in an attitude best descriped as being in perpetual contempt. Contempt of the game, the team, the fans, indeed of life itself. Two things about this. Sadly, the good part, his skills, haven't been seen with any form of continuity or habit for more than a year. Frustratingly, the attitude which defeats him is an unpredictable beast. Give it long enough, and you'll have a player who'll be largely unreliable even with all that talent. When he's on his meds (or was it off?) he looks a broken man and soul, almost inconsolable. Distraught by all of this he has games where he wouldn't distinguish himself at a semi-pro level, missing chances that defy logic. (I would be remiss not to mention here Tuttosport's attempt to paint 102 career goals spread out over 11 years as the work of a "goal machine". A deeply flawed, kinda working machine perhaps; it's not an overly impressive streak.)


Chapter II: Them



He now joins a Juventus perpetually in re-build mode, forever chasing those last two (or three, or four, or...) pieces of the puzzle to take them back. Vucinic isn't it. Ag├╝ero could have been. Giuseppe Rossi, while a slightly disappointing scenario compared to Kun, would have been an upgrade for them but not The Answer. Vucinic even less so. His ability to start plays from the left wing to cut in will fit in well, just as it did with Roma, but what has kept Vucinic from stepping up a plateau has never been tactical or technical flaws. On those levels, he can play with or against anyone. With him it's all internal, and no amount of sense this makes on paper will matter. And there have been no signs of any such improvement in the five years he has been in Rome, for whatever that's worth.


Chapter III: We the people



This is the longest thing coming ever. Mirko's desire to leave went public at the beginning of summer, but it was easily legible in the way he carried himself long before that. Having had months to come to terms with his inevitable departure, all I asked at the beginning of summer was that he was sold to a team abroad. Well, that didn't happen. But does it matter? Sabatini stated he plans a cultural revolution, wouldn't getting the best price possible for your player and using that money to get the best possible replacement be such a revolution? And to hell with if that makes Juventus a better team or Vucinic an adversary we'll face often. We worry about us, and nothing else. Or in Luis Enrique's words: we can't know where we will finish the season, but we'll try to win every game in it. (I'd quote Biggie Smalls again from the first paragraph, but for the fear of being repetitive.)

He is hard to replace, both technically and tactically, as rare is the player who so comfortably moves from wing to penalty area and back again. Or rather that should read that the idea of that Vucinic is hard to replace. Because it's a moot point; there's not a more useless player alive than an unhappy Mirko Vucinic, so not to go all philosophical on you, but in reality we're not replacing Vucinic. We're replacing the hollow-eyed living complaint whose impact on a football game would be theoretical at best. I think we, Sabatini, can do that.

I will miss the celebrations, though.