Sunday, February 25, 2007

Don't cry for me Argentina - dogfacedboy

“I am glad that Goran Gavrančić is the part of national team, because I think it is the most significant part in the history of every football player in the world.”

Going into last year’s World Cup Goran Gavrančić was looking forward to a bright future. His Serbia & Montenegro team had leaked just one goal in ten qualifying games, going 649 minutes without conceding at one stage, and he had already been linked to AC Milan and Arsenal.

This defence went down in legend as the "famous four", but one infamous night in Gelsenkirchen saw his reputation shattered.

And Gavrančić has particular reason to cry, as he has been left behind as the rest of the watertight defence goes on to greater things. Nemanja Vidić tops the Premiership with Manchester United, Mladen Krstajić tops the Bundesliga with Schalke 04, and Ivica Dragutinović at Sevilla is tied on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

But it all looked so different in June, when the man with the greatest footballer website ever ( arrived in Germany.

After being passed over by the major Belgrade clubs, Red Star and Partizan, it was legendary Ukrainian manager Valeriy Lobanovski who first recognised Gavrančić's potential and brought him to Dynamo Kyiv in 2002. He was voted the best defender in Ukraine the following year.

The move to Kyiv also led to his first international cap - against Mexico in 2002 - and by the time 2006 came round he was one of the cornerstones of the "famous four".

This group, coupled with the in-the-box prowess of Nikola Žigić and Mateja Kežman, relegated Spain to the play offs in qualifying and Gavrančić was looking forward to playing for a major western European team like the rest of his defensive teammates. For a man who confessed that “At this time, my only hobby is collecting jerseys from my opponents” the opportunity to increase his collection in the Premiership or Serie A must have been a dream.

Problems started before the team even reached their training base when Nemanja Vidić was injured and had to pull out of the squad. A loss of form also meant Ivica Dragutinović had been relegated to the bench.

Drawn in the group of death, Serbia & Montenegro’s first match was against the Netherlands and whilst losing one nil to an Arjen Robben goal was no disgrace it was in no way the start that the team had been hoping for.

All the pressure now went on the Argentina result, with a loss meaning Serbia & Montenegro would be out of the World Cup.

I think we all know what happened next, a six-goal demolition meant Serbia & Montenegro were going home and a 3-2 defeat to the Ivory Coast meant they returned without a point to their name.

But while Argentina’s 6-0 victory highlighted the limitations in Serbia & Montenegro's defence - it was not as abject as the scoreline suggests.

That night Argentina gave the best performance of any team at the World Cup and almost every chance they had went in, they only had nine shots on target in the whole match.

Additionally, three of their goals came after Mateja Kežman had been sent off and while Argentina had more possession (58%-42%) Serbia & Montenegro won more corners, 4-3.

Going into the World Cup Gavrančić was at the top of his game. 27 goals in 190 games for Kyiv had given him a reputation as a dangerous set piece attacker which coupled with his defensive qualities had seen him frequently linked to a move to one of Europe’s leading clubs.

However, in this fickle game that is football all it took was one poor performance where the rest of his team didn’t pick up the slack for this player to merely go back to dreaming about winning a major European league as the rest of the “famous four” may do this year.

His stock has even fallen so low, that in January this year, Glen Roeder announced: "I have been told by people I respect, and who know what they are talking about, that he is no better than the defenders we already have at St James' Park."


Ebren said...

I'm going to apologise to dogfacedboy here - this is not the final version.

I thought it was worth an honourable, but I have been wrong before and will again.

I will update it if I get the full version through.

MotM said...

I'm interested in the raw stats from dog face, since my recollection is that S and M let a ludicrously over-hyped Argentina walk all over them. Cambiasso's so-called wonder goal looked like he was playing for the Harlem Globetrotters - it's not so much that nobody got close to putting a tackle in during all those passes, it's that nobody seemed to bother.

This would make a good "on second thoughts" column which will soon degenerate into controversy for its own sake, I fear, after a promising start.

Jimmy said...

That Gavrancic site is indeed a cracker, cheesy yet somehow also cool, worth a visit for the intro alone.

What a group that was - Ivory Coast might easily have made the quarters or semis with their talent - the Serbs were always going to have difficulties with a key figure like Vidic missing. Man U always look more vulnerable without him.

Fine effort Dogfacedboy. Hope that wasn't your school nickname - for a while mine was Nappybasher something to do with my diminutive size at the time (I like to think!).

andrewm said...

jimmy, I believe the name is a tribute to the mighty Eels.

Fine article DFB, I feel sorry for the lad. I'll have to watch Cambiasso's goal again and see if he put in a challenge, because as Mouth says I seem to remember very few did.

marcela said...

so where is the final version?

i really enjoyed reading this. Argentina's performance has been discussed plenty, but I have yet to get a sense of what was going on with S&M and dogfacedboy's account is the first i've seen since the world cup. REALLY enjoyed it. had no idea about anything i've read here, before. great.

also, if i may take the opportunity to reiterate extreme apologies to andrewm for getting you mixed up with rayo on willo's blog... and very well done indeed for taking on the hosting of this blog during ebren's escapade.

i agree: the font's don't matter while the content's good.

nice work you lot!

Ebren said...

final version now up

andrewm said...

marcela, please don't worry about it. As you know I've done far worse than that on the blog.

DFB, this version is even better. The Roeder line is a great payoff.

guitougoal said...

Genuine and simple, dogfaceboy tells it as it is. But what about Gavrancic's website wouaaaaah!
I thought I was on CNN and MTV dualcast live.
Andrewn , thanks for doing such a better job than the bosphoreal Ebren, could you keep doing it if he is pulling a "midnight express" adventure?

andrewm said...

guitou, just try and stop me :)

Tweet it, digg it