It?s time for verbal volleys

It is said that actions speak louder than words but in the case of Indian football, the case is quite the opposite, writes Varun Gupta.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2006 03:29 IST

It is said that actions speak louder than words but in the case of Indian football, the case is quite the opposite. Here the actions are barely conspicuous while the tongue-wagging always attracts more than its fair share of attention.

The verbal volleys are traded with such alacrity and malevolence in Indian football that it is hard to decide whom to take seriously and whom to turn a deaf ear to.

Sample the latest gut-wrenching loss to Yemen on Wednesday. To some, the loss would not have been as piquing as the aftermath, where the entire pack of misfits launched a tirade was launched against the coach and the manager.

Hell hath no fury like Bhaichung Bhutia scorned, as the captain was first one to publicly castigate them after the defeat. Apparently, his grouse was that the coach, Syed Nayeemuddin, lacked inventiveness and the training methods he used were redundant. Manager P K Banerjee wasn't spared either by the enraged captain.

While these complaints might be absolutely apt and right on the money, what comes as a surprise is the way the entire episode is being enacted. Before India left for their Pakistani sojourn --the SAFF Cup --in December 2005, Bhutia had sung a very different tune and blamed the media for suggesting that rancour exists between him and the coach.

Even a day before the Yemen fiasco, Bhutia had given no indication of his disapproval of Nayeem's training methods. That though, might be because he did not want to create an inimical atmosphere in the dressing room ahead of "must-win match". What happened after is anybody's guess.

Even other players who "do not wish to be named" backed their skipper and analysed the coach's shortcomings. Whether you agree or don't with their view - and most followers of Indian football would - at another level, isn't this collective attack on the team management the perfect way to divert attention from what was a spineless display on the field?

There is no doubt that Banerjee seems to do little more than pontificate and philosophise in meaningless jargon and there is a big question mark over Nayeem's tactical nous, but is it right to blame them entirely for the loss? Not one player has put his hand up to say, "Okay, I messed up".

Instead what we have seen is plethora of complaints, where everyone is looking to pass the buck.

Maybe, the litany of complaints played out in the media happened because the players didn't have a choice. Maybe, even though Nayeem denies this, players find him and the manager unapproachable or not open to ideas. So, led by Bhutia, they decided to make some noise
about it.

Maybe, the idea was right but it still left a bitter taste.

First Published: Mar 05, 2006 03:29 IST