Like Fa­ther And Son

The bond that de­vel­ops be­tween a coach and a player can be tighter than blood rel­a­tives. KATHY STONE spoke to some of Australia’s clos­est masters and ap­pren­tices to see why...

Australian Four Four Two - - JUNE 2015 - four­ June 2015 73

There can be a spe­cial bond be­tween some coaches and their play­ers. We talk to Aus­tralian play­ers and their coaches about be­ing each other’s Spe­cial One.

ide­line bust-ups and dress­ing room dress­ing downs – there’s noth­ing like a boil-over be­tween coach and player to gen­er­ate head­lines. The vol­canic erup­tions – and fa­ther and son-like rap­proche­ments – of Manch­ester City wild child Mario Balotelli and for­mer manager Roberto Mancini are leg­endary. Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s in­fa­mous boot to the brow of Manch­ester United star David Beckham proves some man­agers will re­sort to the clos­est thing at hand to keep the prized cat­tle cor­ralled. It’s not all fury of course. Out­go­ing In­ter coach Jose Mour­inho’s im­promptu farewell out­side the Bern­abeu with his faith­ful on-field lieu­tenant Marco Mat­er­azzi, in 2010 had more tears than a Greek tragedy. Even be­yond the world of foot­ball celebrity – where a salary cap keeps the egos and op­por­tu­ni­ties in check – the click or clash of the coach and his star is al­ways go­ing to be com­pelling view­ing. Perth Glory’s hot-headed goal­keeper Danny Vukovic owes much of his longevity at the top of the do­mes­tic game to the steady­ing in­flu­ence of his old goal­keep­ing coach John Craw­ley. Syd­ney FC tac­ti­cian Gra­ham Arnold sur­prised many by chan­nelling the raw tal­ent and angst of se­rial doubter Corey Gameiro into a goal mouth frenzy. And at Ade­laide United, the chaotic side­line cel­e­bra­tions be­tween livewire for­ward Awer Ma­bil and his flam­boy­ant coach Josep Gom­bau are a PR dream. Sure, some­times there’s more mad­ness than majesty in the one-two in­ter­play be­tween coach and player – but when it works, it’s foot­balling gold. Arnold ad­mits play­ers will walk over hot coals for a coach they re­spect. “I prob­a­bly shouldn’t say this but as a player I al­ways cared more and hurt more af­ter a loss if I liked the coach,” the for­mer Soc­ceroo striker said. “I had some great coaches over the years – Ed­die Thom­son and those type of peo­ple – and one in Bel­gium, a guy called Eric Gerets who was new into coach­ing. “He’s coached at PSV and ev­ery­where since – but at that stage he’d just taken on coach­ing at Liege and I got on with him very well, and I re­ally liked him as a per­son. And when we lost, I felt his pain.” Arnold laughs: “That’s how I’d like my play­ers to feel. That when we lose, they’re not happy, that they hurt for me as well.” That said, there’s noth­ing like the eu­pho­ria when it all comes to­gether on the pitch. If you’re lucky, there is a mo­ment of per­fect

‘Don’t leave me this way...’

a guru Eric Gerets - like but spelt dif­fer­ently

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