The term, philosophy is one word that has been around for so long in the world of football, as such there is no manager who dishes out instructions from the dugout without his own approach towards the game, some go with a more defensive approach, while others apply a more attacking approach, some even bank on the skills of their players, while others relied on their player’s physicality.
Managers are like a demigod that clubs can’t do away with because without them the clubs can’t win trophies on its own, taking a look at the life of Osvaldo Zubeldia, an innovator, motivator, and mentor, a man who has the geniuses of countering any styles been adopted by any manager.
Zubeldia will always remain one of the finest and best innovators and philosophical manager, he was well respected and admired back in the 70s in South America. He was also seen as one of the most disdained managers in soccer and he marked a transition in Argentine football, although his style is aggressive and brutal, his innovative ideas brought a lot of success to his Estudiantes team which was the greatest proponents of his aggressive style.
The Argentine means a lot to people even though he’s from a humble upbringing, he was loved not because of anything, he was loved because of the style of play and his football philosophy, and most importantly how he mentored his players to always carried out his instructions to the end.
Managing & Innovating
He took over at Estudiantes in 1965, having been denied managing the Argentina national team to the World Cup due to differences with the federation. Estudiantes was a modest provincial team generally preoccupied with avoiding relegation at that time. Argentinian football was dominated by five sides from metropolitan Buenos Aires — in fact, no club from outside the capital had ever won the championship — but Zubeldia’s upstarts quickly put an end to that.
Estudiantes won their first title in 1967 when Estudiantes became the first “small” team to win an Argentine championship. The team came back from three goals deficit to beat Platense in the semifinal 4–3, then took the crown with a comfortable 3–0 win over Racing Club in the final. They were immediately acclaimed by the country’s new military dictator, Juan Carlos Ongania, who had reorganized football with the express hope of breaking the Buenos Aires stranglehold.
Estudiantes then took second place in the Nacional championship, qualifying for the 1968 Copa Libertadores, which Estudiantes won after defeating Brazilian side Palmeiras.
In that year’s Intercontinental Cup, Estudiantes defeated Bobby Charlton’s Manchester United 1–0 in Buenos Aires and achieved a 1–1 draw at Old Trafford on 16 October 1968. The game was marred & dragged down to new and uncharted depths as they became the living embodiment of aggressive football tactics with the way Zubeldia’s team trambled on the Red Devils.
Each ball was a battle; each play was a series of scenarios that were practiced and conditioned into the players repeatedly by Zubeldia.
Osvaldo Zubeldia is one name that is synonymous with philosophy and his bad-boy act, although he may not have the best moral behavior he was a man that is like a god to the Argentine, perhaps only Maradona can rival him for the love and adoration.
Zubeldia gave up the ghost in 1982 in the city of Medellin, Colombia while doing what he knows how to do best, he went down to fulfill his daily ritual at the race track, as soon as he finished placing a bet on one of the races Zubeldia suffered a heart attack and died on the spot.
During his six years stint in Medellin, he was somewhat of a demigod and he lived out of the Nutibara, owned then by Nacional President Hernan Moreno, he was respected and loved by many while some don’t really like him, as a human when he passed away it’s was then many knew that they’ve lost a great man, however, his affinity toward the city of Medellin was second to none before he died.
As a manager, he left behind a legacy that was forever embedded in the South American football style for completely different reasons, both the beautiful game and the dark arts of playing the game of Zubeldia style is still been practiced till date.
The Fox, as he was usually called was appointed as manager of Atletico National in 1976, which was the biggest coup pulled off by any team since the days of the pirate league in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Zubeldia revolutionized Colombia soccer when he was appointed as the manager of National, according to him in an interview ”
I revolutionized the Colombia football because I ended the siestas”, “I ended the big breakfasts and extended lunches, they have to be on the pitch, they have to work day and night “.
His reign with Nacional coincided with the genesis of drug lords within the game, an era known as the narco football, his approach, and style brought about a lot of demands from the players and the level of competitiveness went on the upward trajectory in the league, the day Zubeldia died the news got to the fans as a joke, until when people gathered and surrounded radio transistors around the neighborhood hearing the story of his death.
As fans, the rivalry between Nacional and Independiente is so fierce that when both team lock horns, the rivalry always come to fore, when Zubeldia died tears rolled down from the eyes of the fans regardless of what colors flowed through their veins whether as a supporter of the greens (Nacional) or the reds (Independiente), everyone felt a tremendous sadness that day, having just led Nacional to the league title just three weeks before his death, a league that was one the longest and most grueling tournaments in the world which lasted up to 60 rounds.
For many whom have seen the kind of styles the likes of Diego Simeone, Marcello Bielsa, and Carlos Bilardo adopted in setting out their respective team, then you will agree to the fact that Zubeldia was a major influence on their coaching prowess and styles, and more reason why he was anointed by many football historians as the father of Carlos Bilardo and the grandfather of Diego Simeone having been the main school of thought in South American soccer which has influenced many Argentine managers.
Zubeldia was so good that, when Rinus Michels the great manager who was credited for inventing total football was asked who invented ‘Total Football‘ during the 1974 world cup, Michels replied confidently that Zubeldia invented that over at Estudiantes six years ago a club he managed then, Michels mentioning Zubeldia was also a way to pay homage to his anti-football style of play too which he usually adopted to wear out his opposition on the field.
“I believe in the offside because it crushes the opponent morally; the forward that ends up in offside five times end up being afraid of going into the area” Osvaldo Zubeldía
For many who don’t really know much about Zubeldia, the comment made by Michels can actually help in describing a better picture of a man who was both an innovator of the game as well as a mentor who built one of the most dreadful teams in football history while still alive.
“You don’t arrive at glory through a path of roses” that was Zubelidia’s philosophy, he studied opposition teams in minute detail, looking for weaknesses. And he offered opposing team no comfort, playing Estudiantes that time was a miserable experience off the field as well as on.
The typical example of that was when he asked his team to resume for training at 4 am in the morning, instead of training he loaded the team into a bus and took them to the local train station, when they arrived there, he told them to just sit and observed the people that were on their way to work, and according to him
“I did this so you can see how fortunate you are because you’re paid to do what you love to do most, play football”.
“Play every match as if it was your debut. Fans will always forgive one bad play, but they will never forgive that you don’t give your all on the pitch”
Much of the qualities he possessed as a manager can be traced back to the years after he retired from football with Atlanta the Buenos Aires side, he has already shown glimpses of a good manager, though his team wasn’t as talented as someone would think he forged a team filled with high spirit and they ended up in fourth place on the log in 1961, at that time the game wasn’t as professional as now, and more importantly one of the secrets of his team back then was the use of set pieces, which he deployed with Atalanta and later on Estudiantes which brought a lot of success for Zubeldia.
He published a book in 1965, titled ‘Tactics And Strategy In Football’ also pointed out the fact that set-pieces are most effective when it is done with quickness and when they prevent opponents from reorganizing, he also talked about having set pieces routines established prior to the game and even improvised in an effort to take advantage of their opponent’s defensive lapses.
Zubeldía was a harbinger of tactical changes; he was the first manager to thoroughly research the rival team’s tactics and playing style. Pre-planned plays off free kicks and tactical fouls to stop opponents’ advances were highly criticized at the time, but have since been adopted by virtually every team in the world. So are other practices, like the offside trap (having the defense step forward in sync to force opposing players into an offside position).
Zubeldia was so obsessed with his philosophy that he can use hours to show his team a video of a team, and make sure his team found a way around the team style and tactics and uses his own approach to counter it, by adopting a fast countering approach which he also pointed out in his book, he also talked about his 4-2-4 formation approach to games which he believed that players in the middle of the pack had to press and not allow the opposition to create and move the ball around.
During his team memorable triumph back in 1976, in his first season with the Nacional team, his philosophy was keenly imbibed in the team’s mentality with Francisco Maturana who is always at the front in implementing many of the Argentine teaching and style, Zubeldia was so good that he knows what to say to motivate his players and also the exact words to use to demotivate his opponent on the pitch.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.