I’ve never treated the Ballon d’Or seriously, but would you be alarmed if your manager overlooked two of the most outstanding footballers of all time, to vote for one of the poor relations in an outstanding, if waning, Barcelona team.
England manager, Roy Hodgson, is entitled to his opinion but in nominating Javier Mascherano, he’s started a debate which will not reflect kindly on him.
I remember when Martin O’Neill was in charge of Celtic, he could do or say anything and no matter how incongruous it seemed, we all looked for hidden wisdom. Martin knew much more about the game than all of us but this authority was uniquely evident. I don’t remember any other Celtic manager being regarded with such awe, and I go back to the latter Stein days.
Whether Mascherano is fit to pass the ball to Leonel Messi is beside the point, Roy’s opinion is a prisoner of fortune. He’s dead meat to his critics.
For all of Martin’s brilliance he wasn’t one for cutting edge tactics. He knew what worked for him and stuck to it. So when Gordon Strachan came along with some new, ‘ideas’, the reaction was not appreciative.
Gordon’s early days (years) were remarkably hostile but it’s what I’ve regarded as The Ross Wallace Deployment which remains in the mind as an unfinished debate.
Ross was a left winger. But, five goals down after a first leg capitulation in Bratislava, Gordon deployed him on the right. The outcry was palpable. We’d never heard of playing a left footed player ‘out of position’ like this. What is now commonplace – to mix a left and fight footed full back and winger on the same side – was both new and proof positive that Gordon Strachan was a deluded simpleton.
There’s value in the opinions of the outliers, so my vote for the Ballon d’Or would have gone to Efe Ambrose. Gordon Strachan was a better manager than any of us knew at the time.[calameo code=0003901718eccc6101c78 lang=en page=1 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]