Your opinion does not matter; he is the greatest ever.


Català: Lionel Messi, jugador del Futbol Club ...

The devastating record-breaking Barcelona and Lionel Messi in the UEFA Champions League sends shivers down my spine. It sends Bayern Leverkusen out of the Cup as well, of course.

The chilling accuracy of Messi in front of goal, the efficiency of completing the attacking moves was of the highest order. It was hard to believe Barca are second in the domestic league. Taking that line of thought, it would mean Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are better their counterparts.

The scintillating performance did not resonate with my earlier allegation of the Catalans being a spent force. With my love for pies, I should be indulging in a humble one, but wait, I am not budging. It is a question of time. Using my newly found favourite term, one swallow does not make a summer.

The mention of Barcelona is just because Messi plays for them, but he is the main subject. The Argentinian has been crowned thrice in a row, as the best technician of his trade. H e has won the next one, no doubt, well before time. I would even suggest crowning him for the next 3 years for the performances he still has give so far, iced by the latest 5 goal haul.

The greatest footballers have been known to influence the match single-handedly. Most of them, thus they became global icons, were watched by the world at the grand stage of the FIFA World Cup, to claim their status. The team-work played little role to influence their impact in the game and matches they played.

Many would have telling contributions for the clubs they turned out for. Their influence was however limited to the world around their clubs. Due to the global village brought about by the digital technology, the world can enjoy a week in and week out the best strutting their stuff of the field.

Over the years, especially at the turn of the century, the debate of the Footballer of the Century became a heated argument and a political issue. Many were at loggerheads and almost coming to blows over Pele and Maradona. The extrapolation of the hullabaloo spilled into the new millennium.

Having watched the greats like Pele, Puskas, Eusebio, De Stefano, Johan Cryuff, Sir Stanley Mathews, George Best, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi, the question of the  greatest footballer of all time has been answered. There is no more argument. Pele and Maradona can now fight for the old century dominion. They must call Zidane with them, because I do not think Zizou is that far off. (You really did not have to see them.)

Messi’s tag as a flop at the national team remains a huge concern. From where I stand, the way the magician is playing, there is a lot left from where that performance came from. As sober as he appears to us, his clean life and humble take on the game, leaves him with 2 or 3 World Cups ahead. There is enough time to give doubters what they want.

To the footballing world who doubted him, me included, he really does not need to do that at all, but I know he will. He is the greatest.

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9 comments on “Your opinion does not matter; he is the greatest ever.

  1. Coach, i agree. I agree to disagree, those Barca passes and movement would make anybody look special.

    Pep designs Barca’s system to fully utilise Messi’s abilities not the other way round.

    I may dance to this tune if gets out of his comfort zone and produce his magic, as for now i fail to recognise a one-team wonder as the greatest

    • Thanks Vusa for the comment. I had been unfair about his abilities for among other things, what you say. Being not convinced of Pep’s coaching abilities, I think Barca are just too good. As a follower of the Blog, you know I mean they were good. Frankly, for both of us, there has been times Messi did not need a pass. For scoring goals, he has depended on passes, but the rest of the stuff he does with the ball, and without, is just amazing. This is how I give it to him: All the greats who mad it in the past, played the game while there were porous spaces in defense. Messi disregards the tight component of today’s game. I would not want to say if that long list played today they may have been this and that, but I wish to take you and Messi to days of Pele or whoever. Messi could have swept past 3 teams. Many of us would have loved to see him do that for Argentina, but the man is just slippery, talented. Tell me I convinced you, hahaha.

  2. Tse no bizo wami, let me give another perspective. Pele was great for both Santos and Brazil. Maradona had a dazzling club career at Borca Juniors and later Sevilla, Napoli and of cource Barcelona. He was also great in that white and sky blue shirt of Argentina.

    My point is that while Messi is a great player, if he does not help Argentina win either a continental cup or the world cup before he retires, he will not be mentioned in the same sentence with Maradona and Pele. Unfortunately, that is how it is.

    • We concur about the greatness of the former greats. There is no question at all. Pass for pass, dribble for dribble, vision for vision, ball control for ball control, Messi has no rival. You drum the same beat we have always made, that he should do that for the national team. My point is, pound for pound, club or country, in a day where there is no space on the pitch to play football, Messi is the rarest cut of them all. To qualify that fact, as I said in the article, Messi has sober years ahead, and he will do all the world wants with Argentina, and very soon.

    • Vusi, I hope you did not buy the fact that I saw all the greats play, but my point was that even if I am not old enough to have seen their exploits, I do not think there is a human being who has worked the ball so well in tight situations as Messi did.

  3. Tse, I agree with you, time is not a factor for him. The only question I have for you is on Pep, your fellow proffesional. I asked this question on a different forum after Barca’s Laliga win over the weekend. Can he manage a different set of players to the same heights? Messi is definately an exception. I am talking of your Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc et al? What role does a manager does with such a gifted lot? Is there a call enough for his tactical and technical know how or it is just man management skills thats needed? Sometimes to me he looks more of a national team manager than a club one. When did he last dig deep with his side in dire straits of two or three goals behind? Is this the reason why he is not considering venturing into your Chelseas and all? Time will tell I guess but I need your opinion. Talking about coaches, news hitting me is that Leal has been suspended by Pirates in SA. Was it a good move for him to accept a position from a club that had just out done themselves in terms of success? I need your take on that Ndex.

    • I always try to be diplomatic not to criticize or talk down my fellow tradesmen. Pep is not one of my favourites, maybe because of the reasons you give. In his Barca set-up, it is always going to be difficult to separate oil from water. There is no question of class in his players. That overshadows his abilities to a great length. It is not a team that he built. No one knows how he would go about building a team from rock bottom. No one can bet on his success if he moved to a different setup of the same quality. There is no guarantee of what he can achieve in trying to resucitate a dying team.

      From a coaching point of view, the lower the level of professionalism, the more emphasis is placed on technique and physical condition of players. Teams like Barca train on dribbling, passing, ball control and shooting on an ongoing basis to consolidate natural techniques and skills. This is usually done in a recreational nature to build team spirit through fun. Tactics and psychology in that order become critical. The level of players determine how this is done and to what extent. Pep’s job would be to keep certain routines to maintain the fluidity of play. Again, for Barca, this is in the players he has. It is the old dogs with their tricks.

      Taking a team that is inferior in all these aspects could prove a huge challenge for Pep, but he might as well have since gained enough experience to deal with it. Usually, it ceases to be a case of experience, but the respect and aura of your background that may carry him in the next move. Sometimes those do not last long, while in others, they last a lifetime. There are coaches who coach nothing and win everything, believe me.

      Some coaches always prefer ripe teams lie you said. Jose Mourinho build the structures he likes to work with everywhere he goes. If it gets predictable he moves on and gets successful. You can bank on him taking a newly promoted team to the championship and the Champions League in straight seasons. His teams play whatever he wants, period. It only takes the club and team management who share his dreams and have the purse to go with it. Coaches of his calibre do not stay year after year as long as they are successful. They get bored too easily by the monotony of the players, games and successes. Winning everything with the same team twice is more than enough, no matter the salary.

      Orlando Pirates may have had this idea in not renewing Ruudi Krol’s contract. It may have been Krol’s desire to seek a new challenge after his successes at the Bucs. Emulating the feat is the most difficult task anyone can have. Everyone starts comparing coaches, sadly, including players. They always want to say that ‘Krol didn’t do it this way or that way’. Julio Leal was the right man for the Ghosts, but trouble was his right hand man. I think his right hand stabbed him, not once, and not twice. What got him suspended is how he was taking the stabbing. Pirates’s demise in this campaign is a domestic catastrophe rather than the inability of the coach. This was obvious on the days everyone decided to put their personal egos aside. Pirates would play like they would beat Barcelona, and then when some people want to claim credit, they would play like rural school boys.

      To conclude, Pep is a good but not tested coach. Leal made a good move as did Pirates, and they were going to be successful, had it not been for the infighting. I think Leal fulfilled his contractual agreements of winning some silverware, but I think the team management were not prepared to chose between him and his assistants. He could not stomach being not chosen, just like me and you would not take it.

  4. Thanks Tse, as always insightful comments.

    What then do you put on these personalities who think they make the team? I am specifically now on the SA context because you get a Tebogo Moloi in every team. Depending on the person’s personality and ambitions, they can turn out to be a liability to the club rather than an asset. Manager in, manager out, hiis name gets mentioned. Do you sometimes as a coach get such a personality in the dressing room where in the packing order they are at the back of the row, but tend to get attention by being destructive? Granted in Tebogo’s case he is a second generation after the great Chipa his father. But is it not time Irvin gave a new manager a full mandate over the technical team. Incidentally, the rumour mil has it that Steve Khomphela will be joining Chiefs next season. Apparently he has been given a full mandate on the technical team and is bussy building a team. Whether this is ethical as he is still contractualy a Free State stars coach, is another debate. What is your take Ndex?

    • The first error is for clubs to seek the comings in and goings out of a coach, that they choose assistants for head coaches. These become Russian spies who keep chewing the heels of the coaches and transmit good and wrong messages for the club owners. Ideally, a coach must be hired and be given the leeway to choose his own technical team. Those who have been lucky to have me as their assistant know that I had their back all the time. I wanted to learn from them and therefore always worked to make their job easier, to an extent that they really didn’t have to work sometimes. This gains one the respect of the Head coach and players. It got me fired as an assistant because whatever information was for the technical department, it belonged to the technical department. In a case where the assistant is eyeing the post, sabotage is imminent. Sometime it is mere stupidity and low scruples.

      I think Steve needs an enabling environment to be judged as a good coach. I like the way he talks football. Chiefs may afford him the opportunity to be great. This is assuming the rumour is true that he will be at Chiefs. He comes across as a principled man that I think talk of him doing a Chiefs jobs under a Free State Stars contract is dust. I must say I was suspicious the way Sunday Marimo left Stars last season. I had a gut feeling he had something to do with it. Like Roger de Sa is meant for Wits, I think he was made for Stars. He may thrive at Chiefs, if he has the same budget as the foreign coaches. I wish him well.

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