Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So long, farewell

Aufweidersen, Adieu. Adios. Since I've been out golfing today, I hadn't read about Abel Xavier's farewell tour of spite on Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit in particular and the organization in general.
Here's a sampling of it.
Though it amuses me that Xavier is clearly venting, and to more than one press outlet, I'm not really surprised. It happens when players leave who don't want to go and don't have the discipline (or perhaps the incentive) to be professional about it.
Last season, Santino Quaranta left the Galaxy in a fit of pique, complaining to media that the Galaxy locker room was a mess, that Yallop hadn't wanted to trade him, that Lalas and Yallop weren't speaking. Turns out that Quaranta had his own demons to contend with at the time. He certainly wasn't playing his best soccer in those days, and neither has Xavier lately.
I'm not saying the Galaxy locker room didn't have problems then and doesn't have them now. Every locker room has issues, frankly. Some more than others, of course.
As a journalist, I liked Xavier being outspoken. Yet he avoided taking responsibility for his failings on the field. He'd say the entire team was to blame ("The responsibility to defend is on the entire team."), the ref, whatever. He believed in expressing his opinions and he had a lot of them. I remember once when Xavier was upset about a game and talking on and on about the officiating to the assembled press. The locker room emptied out of other players, but Xavier was still detailing his issues. Landon Donovan walked by and remarked dryly, "And that's the short version." I think he was kidding, but there's an element of truth behind those jokes.
Some coaches can calm emotional players down. Some don't tolerate things that distract the team.
It's pretty clear where Ruud Gullit falls. The question now is - did Gullit err in the move to get rid of Xavier? Opine here if you like.


LBC United said...

I think they had to make some changes defensively. I can tell you that I saw some of the worst defending in a long time in the second half against DC United. I thought a lot of that fell on Xavier who looked like he was overplaying, and not quick enough to recover in slowing down DC's counter attack. But Xavier may have a point too... As I was leaving RFK with three of my friends, we all agreed the defense was awful at best.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Here's a comment from a Steven Goff's blog that bears reading:

This is typical Xavier venting, but he's absoultely right about Gullit. He's an ass. We saw the same kind of attitude at Newcastle -- his last game in charge, at home against arch rivals Sunderland, he BENCHED Shearer and Big Dunc Ferguson and started a reserve striker and Kieron Dyer up front, then threw Shearer and Ferguson on when 2-1 down to save the point. We lost to our rivals, and he blamed BOTH Shearer and Ferguson! He "resigned" within two days.
I'm sure, if he wasn't already the poster boy for growing MLS, he'd bench BECKHAM if he could get away with it.

Having said that, I've never heard Gullit take personal credit for victories in post-game press conferences. I've never heard him single out any individual players for either condemnation or praise in front of the press. Of course, his behavior behind closed doors might be different -- and Lalas did imply before the season that the Galaxy was soft and needed a good shaking up.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

OTOH, Xavier never should have been signed in the first place. That's Lalas' responsibility and the blame goes squarely on him. The fact that, at 34, he missed 18 months due to a suspension for steriod use should have been a warning. So should the fact that Xavier played for 12 teams in eight countries in an 18-year career!

Xavier's signing typifies the Galaxy's obsession with style (and cheapness) over substance (I think Xavier came on a free transfer?).

Besides, a.c., the fact that Quaranta was dealing with his own demons doesn't mean that his assessment of the Galaxy was wrong.

A.C. said...

You're right, Quaranta could have been spot-on. Xavier could be right about Gullit, too. I have to agree with you about what I've heard Ruud say publicly, but we're reporters. A lot of times people are different and more guarded around media. Ruud could be pulling off a good con.
But I have trouble giving credence to observations from people whose objective grasp of their own responsibilities is lacking.
Basically, if neither Quaranta (at the time) or Xavier could see their own failings, it's harder for me to trust that their views of others would be either objective or accurate.
It's not, "I think Xavier and Quaranta are wrong because I believe Yallop and Gullit are wonderful people. It's, "I'm not going to put too much stock in someone's statements whose judgment is suspect, because they really seem clueless about their own poor performance."

papa bear said...

I just hope that he gets picked up by someone else (preferably in the West) to add a little more drama to Galaxy games.

oh and not to nit pick, but it's: Auf Wiedersehen. However, since you know him personally/semi-personally it'd be more correct to say: Tschüß (tschuess)[pron: chuu-ss)

Nicole said...

This is a bad case of horribly sour grapes. Xavier was clearly a distraction with his negativity, not to mention a bad, bad defender.

Ruud Gullit has been the best thing to happen to the Galaxy. He has them playing the best soccer they've played for the last 2 years at least, not to mention their entertainment value. He has transformed Edson Buddle into the player that was promised and he has Landon Donovan playing the best, most intense soccer consistently that he's ever played.

Xavier needs to just move along into the movies like he wanted to.

tracey said...

Xavier's a controversial character (a convicted drugs cheat for a start) but he's true about Gullit, who although very charismatic and likeable in some ways, has a monstrous ego and was never known for getting on well with his team-mates or players.