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...
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