Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A General Look At Fenerbahce

A General Look At Fenerbahce
By Ozgur R. Nazilli

I find it both fascinating and exciting that Fenerbahce, a Turkish team, is attracting international attention. Fenerbahce Worldwide is a perfect testament to it. This I’m sure is the first step to the ultimate goal of becoming a worldwide First-Class team. I’m using the word “worldwide”, because we all know that Fenerbahce IS the best Turkish team.

So, for my first article, I chose a very “cliché” discussion topic that I’m sure everyone has utilised at least once or twice in their lives: Fenerbahce is not achieving its full potential… Why? What can be done better? What is needed to realize our international goals? This article is definitely not to say “Zico, go home!” or “If only they would make me the manager!” it is just intended as a light-hearted and a friendly “constructive criticism” first article, in the days that Fenerbahce does not have any official games.

Arthur Antunes Coimbra, or Zico as we know him, is a legendary footballer, definitely one of the best footballers of all time. No one argues against that, and no one can. However, is he at least as good with the chic suit as he was with the jersey?

There are as many opinions on “What is not going as it should be with Fenerbahce?” as there are fans, which is a lot. Therefore, I am not going to write down then discuss each and every one of them. However, let us summarize the 5 major ones:

1) “Zico is what is wrong with this team!”

2) “Deivid and Kezman, off with their heads!”

3) “Even three-year-olds can see that this team should play with two strikers, not one!”

4) “The team is lacking in fitness, therefore they cannot play fast!”

5) “The transfer policy of this team is all wrong. Even I could do better!”

I present this list of the “Big Five” to you. I will not comment on them individually, but rather go into my personal opinion, which will probably be all-encompassing.

It is true that Zico is not the type of the manager that Turkey is used to. The executive boards of the Turkish teams tend to prefer more animated and aggressive coaches (Yılmaz Vural or Fatih Terim, for example). They tend to jump up and down at the sideline, reflect their every emotion on their faces, and give aggressive press conferences after the games. Therefore, it is understandable for the Turkish community to not accept Zico instantly. However, as time passed by and we got to see Zico in more and more varied situations, I have to say that I developed a respect for him and his style. He is never in a panic, blaming this person or that person. He is never rude or overly aggressive. He has a father-son type of a relationship with the players, which helps them do their trade in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. These are some of the traits that everyone should applaud him for. Yet, he has his faults…

I will not criticize his tactical knowledge, because I do not think that mine surpasses his. However, I would like to point out two crucial mistakes of his (again, in my opinion). First of all, Zico did not get the chance to do it this year due to his injury, but playing Appiah as a right winger is a BIG mistake. We all watched him during his first season with Fenerbahce, and instantly loved him for his strength, attitude to win, and passion. Then, we watched him 2006-2007 season. An average winger, who loses the ball once too often, and doesn’t have anything special to his game. Now, would you be so kind to point out the 5 differences between the two pictures? In short: Appiah makes a perfect Defensive Midfielder, Appiah does NOT make a right winger.

Secondly: Math + Kezman + striker position. One striker plus one Kezman equals GOOD. One Kezman by himself equals BAD. He even himself said that he would be much more efficient if he was to play alongside another striker. I know that it is wrong for players to make statements to the press and complain about the team’s tactics, but if it goes to that, especially with someone as reserved and intelligent as Kezman. We have seen how well he can perform when he is “fed” by a partner or partners at PSV Eindhoven. For people who do not know, he was awarded the “Top Scorer” title on 5 different occasions, 3 in Eredivisie, once in the Yugoslav Prva Liga, and in 2004 UEFA Cup. Therefore, he at least deserves a month or two of trial as part of a striker duo, preferably paired with a tall and strong, “can take a hit” kind of a striker.

I know this has been a long article, but I just want to brush up on some less important points before I end the article:

1) Deivid: Yes or No? Yes… Come back in a year and hit me hard if he proves me wrong, but I’m pretty sure that he will perform well this year.

2) İlhan, Gökhan Gönül, CKR (Collin Kazım), Vederson, Ali Bilgin, Yasin? All very good transfers in my opinion, because I am all for buying young and talented players, and nurturing them. If they work out, great, if not, you can sell them at a profit to other teams.

3) Carlos? What is there to say? I must admit that I wasn’t 100% on board when the rumours started, but after seeing him with the team, I can easily admit that I was wrong. He is “the” perfect professional. He works hard, helps others, never stops fighting, and most important of all, he still wants victories, even though his career is full of them. He has been very valuable so far, and I am sure he will be even more so in the months to come.

4) What tactic should Fenerbahce use? 4-2-2-2. I know it looks weird but 4 defenders, 2 defensive midfielders, 2 attacking midfielders, and 2 strikers looks like our best bet for the European games:

Goalie: Serdar

Defense (Right to left): Onder, Lugano, Edu, R. Carlos

Defensive Midfielder: Appiah, Aurelio

Attacking Midfielder: Deivid, Alex

Striker: Kezman, Semih (Or Colin Kazim Richards)

For the Turkish League, one defensive midfielder could be exchanged for a third attacking midfielder. In the Turkish League, what matters is attacking. Au contraire, European games call for a solid defence, and only then an attack, supported by the defensive players.

I tried going over as many topics as possible, all the while trying to keep the article a decent length. I know I have only criticised the team in this article, but that was the whole point. Do not take this to mean that there is nothing that I am pleased with this year. Actually, I believe that the team is on a good road. However, I wanted to write and article on what could be improved, not what is already good. We have a saying in Antu, the largest Fenerbahce fan website: Hep Destek Tam Destek, which roughly translates into “Always Support Complete Support”. Therefore, I tried to be constructive even in my criticisms. We all want the best for Fenerbahce, and I am one of those who believes in criticism can be helpful, as long as we don’t overdo it and hurt the ones we are trying to help in the process.


Ozgur “Oz” Nazilli

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