Monday, 9 February 2009

Confidence Trick

Scoring goals is an evanescent delight.

Most of the forward player’s playing time must therefore amount to something of a prolonged refractory period, begetting increasing frustration. When those interludes of enforced goal-scoring celibacy begin to stretch to games, and then tens of games, one can understand the impotent striker feeling like he’s gatecrashed a party and neglected to bring a bottle.

Some are suggesting that Bobby Zamora is but a simulacrum of a Premiership striker, based on the observation that his wick has remained un-dipped for too long.

Notwithstanding his non-scoring contributions to Fulham’s game, which are considerable, and which remain vital tenets of the Hodgson philosophy, the goal-scoring section of his CV is certainly beginning to slip apologetically onto the second page.

And he knows it. As he departed the pitch against Portsmouth last week, he looked deflated and in some turmoil. For him to then witness his replacement Erik Nevland, quite literally, ‘score’ at the party he’d just departed, must have rendered the experience even more wretched, despite the team’s ultimate victory.

Critically for the so-called “confidence player”, once the unquestioning belief in one’s own ability is compromised the entire edifice crumbles. The spell is broken, and the player becomes too self-aware, too preoccupied with the cold mechanics of his task. Instinct suffocates through over-analysis. Performance anxiety leading to premature ejection from the game.

He needs confidence to score goals, say some; he needs goals to restore confidence, say others. A relentless Sisyphean cycle. A dog chasing its tail.

Bobby should be thankful therefore to be in the charge of a manager that one would imagine has no truck with such conceits. A man whose credibility is built upon the systematic application of sound methodologies, and the repetition of tried and tested drills.

A man as pragmatic as Hodgson will surely recognise that endeavours such as these are the foundation of Zamora’s ability and that as such it cannot wither overnight, whatever elusive sabotage his mind may perform. Hodgson will know that the professional “by toiling beside the front door of technique…leaves room for genius to enter by the back.”

1 comment:

Brooklyn Bill said...

please keep it up. enjoyed this installment. even though it was a month old. after tonight it went from being relevant to dated to relevant again.