Thursday, February 05, 2009

"M-League Is NOT Football"

As I watched the Steelers celebrate their record sixth Super Bowl (and their dire attempts at singing), my mind could not help but wander back to a GQ article (the one with Jen Aniston on the cover) about another franchise on the other side of the spectrum: the Detroit Lions. In which they have been branded ‘the most embarrassing franchise in football’. Rightly so considering they went through the 2008 season 0-16, thus becoming the first team in NFL history to lose 16 games in a season. Of course, this was added to the fact that they managed to register only one play-off win in fifty years. Apart from the people in Detroit, every NFL fan will tell you it’s five decades of suck.

Naturally, one would ask how could have this happened as bad as it has? Seriously? Well, some attribute it to a longtime curse by its last successful quarterback, who was drafted out after breaking his leg, thinking he was done. On his way out, the legend goes, he vowed the Lions wouldn’t win another championship for fifty years.

On a more usual route, the blame went to the coach. Matt Millen took a team from being 9-7, reshuffled it, and went to 2-14. No arguments there.

However, back in 2000, Drew Sharp of the Free Press was able corral owner Bill Ford Sr. and said to him, ‘You realize, Mr. Ford, that you’re the one constant in all of this.’ And his response was: ‘What do you want me to do? Fire myself?’

Now, doesn’t that sound all too familiar, oh dear Malaysian football fans?

For the umpteenth time, Sultan Ahmad Shah has once again promised to convey a meeting of sorts to (supposedly) fix the national team in light of their latest embarrassment. And, as always, made the coach the scapegoat. The one her personally endorsed after the 2007 Merdeka Tournament victory.

The friendly against Chelsea is still fresh in my mind and when I said Sathianathan is one of the better coaches we’ve ever had in a long time, I still hold true to my word. He may not be a world-class coach but he made the Malaysian team play football again. From the long balls Wimbledon style to the sleek passing of the Arsenal game. And he deserves every credit for it.

And to add further insult, the legendary Soh Chin Aun was also dismissed, simply for doing Khairy’s dirty work. But you only have to admire the man for not displaying bitterness towards this incredulous decision. He was disappointed, no doubt, because, Malaysians know (apart from the people in FAM) he wasn’t doing it for the money nor fame. He did it for the love of the game and the love for his country. But the powers that be came to the conclusion there was no place for such a person to be involved with the team any longer. If you think the way Mike Ashley treated Kevin Keegan was bad, this was much, much worse.

However, the one thing FAM did get right was the finger-pointing at the State FAs for the obvious lack of professionalism within their ranks. Because it’s what they do best: finger-pointing. But, honestly, with only 3 fit players, even Sir Alex Ferguson would have a tough time defeating the likes of Luton Town with his Manchester United team even if those players were Rooney, Ronaldo and Ferdinand. And they dare call themselves professional football players. Even Datuk Seri Hishamuddin would be slightly aggrieved.

And what’s this I hear about FAM seeking the government for about RM18 million in funds to finance its activities for 2009? You would think that after decades in charge, they should have found ways to be financially independent. But no. For large chunks of the years, they have been counting on sponsorship money from Dunhill. Only when they realize, you know, promoting tobacco brands on a nationally televised sporting events, is kind of a bad idea, did they begin to panic. Did they not foresee this? What are you? Children?

But enough from me.

This is just another frustrated local football fan venting his feelings. Suffice to say, all the above is merely a gist, because I spent most of the time being angry thinking about it. People like me are just one of many. But, when an angry fan decides to calm himself down and give much thought about it, well, that’s’ when things like Tronoh Tranquility gets born.

If you call yourself a concerned Malaysian football fan, you would at least read his piece Bicara Bola. It’s lengthy, I know, but it’s something worth spending time on. He just took all that frustration normally associated with a disgruntled fan to another level and you could not help but agree with him. On everything. In fact, I’m his newest fan. If a man with a computer can thought of this, why couldn’t the people at FAM? Well, that’s one of the many things he covers.

Before I end this, let me just say I still think Sultan Ahmad Shah is the biggest culprit. While he is still around, cronyism prevails and any housecleaning would be impossible. Borrowing the words from Lomas Brown, an ex-Lions tackle, ‘they need to do an enema up in there.’

Here, here.
excerpt from Bicara Bola:
Kita harus melihat kegagalan kelab bolasepak tempatan dari sudut kewujudan kelab itu sendiri. KL Plus, UPB-MyTeam, Kuala Muda Naza, Proton FC, Felda United, Sinar Dimaja Mai Sarah FC dan lain-lain adalah antara kelab yang bertanding di dalam Liga Super dan Perdana. Persoalannya ialah apa relevan kelab-kelab ini kepada peminat bolasepak tempatan?
Adakah KL Plus khusus untuk kakitangan Plus Berhad, Kuala Muda Naza dan Proton adalah kelab untuk pemilik kereta Naza dan Proton dan Felda United untuk para peneroka Felda? Dan Tuhan saja yang tahu agaknya dari siapa dan untuk siapa kelab dari Pulau Pinang yang bernama Sinar Dimaja Mai Sarah FC itu.
Setiap individu menjadi penyokong kelab mereka kerana minat. Tetapi apa yang menjadi faktor lebih utama ialah kerana adanya hubung kait sesuatu kelab itu dengan latar belakang penyokongnya. Borussia Dortmund mempunyai gerombolan besar penyokong mereka dari bandaraya Dortmund, kerana di bandar inilah tempat lahirnya kelab tersebut. Di bandar Kashima (Jepun) pula, rata-rata penduduknya menyokong Kashima Antlers, kelab yang berpengkalan di bandar Kashima.
Begitu juga PSMS Medan (Medan, Indonesia), Adelaide United (Adelaide, Australia) atau Columbus Crew (Columbus, USA). Tetapi bagaimana agaknya Felda United, yang bermain di Stadium Petronas di Bangi dapat menarik kedatangan penyokong dari Felda Lurah Bilut yang terletak jauh dari Bangi? Atau menarik sokongan penduduk Bangi yang bukannya peneroka Felda, melainkan nama Felda United ditukar kepada Bangi United barangkali?