Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lack of charisma has been Hernan Crespo’s main handicap - Pipita

Hernan Crespo has sustained high level performances and ratio of goals at the six top level clubs he has played for in Argentina, Italy and England. Furthermore, having recently turned 31, last year alone Crespo obtained a championship medal at Chelsea, a silver boot award at the last World Cup, and also became one of the new signings of current Serie A leaders Internazionale. He is the Argentine national team’s third all-time top scorer behind Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Maradona, yet, in spite of his achievements and acceptable levels of world-wide recognition, he is not precisely revered as an “idol” either in his home country or abroad.

I witnessed Crespo’s first division debut for River Plate in late 1993. He came on as a sub for the last twenty minutes of an emphatic 4-1 win against Newels Old Boys. This scoreline was already sealed by the time he was on the pitch, but a couple of surging runs towards the penalty area by this eighteen year old striker were enough to attract the attention of the River fans present that day. This particular match had in fact been awaited with high expectation, not only because River where the then current argentine league leaders, but primarily because Maradona had been recently signed by Newels and was supposedly going to feature in this game. In the event he was ruled out because of injury, and Crespo’s emergence into professional football is probably what is now most remembered about that match.

Crespo rapidly became one of coach Daniel Passarella’s favorites alongside other youth players also promoted to the River Plate first team by the former Argentine World Cup captain, such as Ariel Ortega, Matías Almeyda and Marcelo Gallardo. Crespo spent three very successful years at the club, and crowned his career there when he scored the two decisive goals by which River beat America de Cali in the Libertadores cup final of 1996. This was to be his last match for River, which I also had the honor to attend, as he was immediately sold to Parma at the age of twenty for the now laughable sum of 4 million dollars.

His legacy as one of the club’s historic icons, can nowadays occasionally be witnessed amongst River fans sporting shirts, with his name inscribed at the back, of any of the European teams he starred for. However, it is revealing that in spite of having played such a vital role in River’s last significant international success, his successor as number nine, the Chilean Marcelo Salas and, later on, Javier Saviola, have both enjoyed superior levels of idolatry than Crespo at that club.

Four seasons at Parma were enough to transform Crespo in the club’s highest ever Serie A goalscorer. Sold to Lazio in 2000-2001, he immediately repaid the astronomic sum paid by the then reigning Italian champions by becoming capocannoniere with 26 goals in his first season. His first spells at Inter and Chelsea were partially marred by persistent injuries, however this did not necessarily imply a significant decline in his goal ratio. Although he did not manage to win any titles during his loan spell at Milan in 2004-2005, he proved an ideal complement to Andrej Shevchenko in attack, and of course scored two goals against Liverpool in the bizarre Champions League final in Istanbul, becoming in this way the first ever player to score in both Libertadores and Champions League cup finals. On his return to Chelsea last season, he obtained his first championship medal since arriving to Europe, and this season he seems destined to achieve his first Serie A championship medal in his second spell at Inter.

His career with the Argentine national team has been one of mixed emotions. In spite of boasting a ratio of one goal every two matches, he will most likely be remembered as the striker who was permanently in the shadow of Batistuta. He also competed, and lost, with “Bati” for the distinction of “best looking player” in the polls that appeared in female teenage magazines whenever Argentina was competing in a World Cup. However, when it comes to nicknames he is simply referred to as “Crespito” or “Valdanito” compared with Batistuta’s more striking labeling of “Lion King” or “Batigol”.

Crespo’s apparent lack of charisma does not necessarily obey to lack of personality. He is neither shy nor soft-spoken, on the contrary, he usually comes across as very articulate and always keen to express his opinions. The question of his lack of charisma seems to lie elsewhere. Maybe his career has not been controversial enough: he has never been sent off in almost fourteen years, and is not known to have had the slightest of rifts with coaches, team mates or adversaries either on or of the pitch. He is not known to have had confrontations with the press either, and details of his private life barely transcend in the media. These factors, more than any other, probably explain why Crespo has not reached the category of "idol" yet.


Ebren said...

A quick thank you to Pipita for this - and a point of information.

As far as I am aware there was a big bust-up between Mourihno and Crespo in Jose's first season.

After arriving [some] days late for pre-season training, Mourihno called Crespo into his office.

In the middle of his telling off Crespo claimed not to understand Mourihno's English, at which point Jose switched to Spanish and then asked Crespo which language he would like to receive the telling-off of his life in.

Crespo spent that season in Milan, although he did come bach the next season and did well.

andrewm said...

Pipita, thanks for sending this in. You needn't have worried - it's very interesting and nicely written.

I agree that Crespo deserves idol status, although as you say it often takes something a bit unusual for that to come about.

He's definitely one of the best forwards of recent times and I would rather have him in my team than Batistuta.

miro said...


I like your piece as much as I like the most I've found here. But I'm still not convinced this is a good idea. The GU Sports Blog, as it was a few months ago, thanks to your contribution, was a fine example of 'free blog culture' at its best. Somehow, and you could discover why, later on everything changed, with Big Blogger, and Pseuds' corner appearing as the antithesis to everything a blog is all about.

The consequences are both obvious and extremely negative for the future of the GU Blog. I'm sorry if you haven't recognised that yet.

Ebren said...

miro - I appreciate your point.

However, I would respond that this site is a community reaction to the big blogger, and does not worsen its effects.

The site is here so we can read submissions of fellow GU bloggers and respond to them, and was not responsible for their initial creation or the effect they have on the main site.

If anything the un-moderated nature of the site has increased the sense of community, and could (and has on ocasion) become a new example of free-blogging culture.

I wanted to read what people whose opinions I respect had written, the responses are prompted by the work of a writer, and coments are inspired by this but not forced to be on topic.

I don't know about the future of the GU, but would argue the big blogger is one of a number of changes that have been made recently, and not linked directly to one effect.

andrewm said...

miro, I second Ebren's points.

I would also argue that GU is currently better than it has been since New Year. All our old friends are back and behaving themselves. I don't quite understand your negativity.

miro said...


Yes, the bloggers are back and they are "behaving" but not arguing and fighting. The GU Blog looks more than ever before the Dead Sea!

andrewm said...

miro, Sean's laid down the law and we have to find a way to keep the site fun without breaking the rules. We'll get there in the end.

pipitag@hotmail.com said...

Many thanks ebren for screening my article,or rather essay, on crespo. Cheers also to andym and miro for taking the trouble of reading it and finding something to say about it. I thought about making some kind of reference about that row ebren mentioned between mourinho and crespo, in fact according to the english tabloids they also had a quarrel around november of 2005 apparently because crespo was fed up of being drogba's sub, but these rumours were never confirmed, and all I ever heard crespo say about jm was always positive. Find it really funny that he couldnt understand jm's english, I would have thought he struggled more with the cockney accents of terry, cole and lampard....Andy, I agree with you entirely I also think crespo is a more subtle and skillfull striker than bati, but the "bomber" goalscorer style seems more popular. Miro, I think the point you raise could be considered if one noticed a sudden decrease in the GU blog entries, but what I observe at the moment is rather the opposite, I seem to notice that their are more and more names of new bloggers appearing on Gu, therefore I cant see how ebren's alternative blog can be causing any harm

MotM said...

Thanks to Pipita for a nicely judged piece.

Crespo is the kind of player I should really like - smart, economical, effective, a star, but also a team man and with the stats to back-up the ability.

And yet I also feel a lack of charisma. Maybe it's because I know him from his Chelsea days when he always seemed to have an eye on something else. Drogba didn't really fit in either, but he had the charisma one expects from a centre-forward, despite being nowhere near Crespo's class as a pure footballer.

Miro - the GU Blog is too biased in favour of what look like pitches for freelancers' spots (I know they're not: there just fine pieces of journalism with all that comes with that description). I like the winners, but they aren't blogging pieces. But I made this point on the GU Big Blogger week 2 blog and didn't get much support.

Ebren's done a fine job here and I enjoy the diversity on show amongst the losers more than the polish of the winners.

Ebren said...

Oi, MotM!

Mine are polished!

also - how is the only-one-article-this-week-that-I-will polish going?

Nice work Pipita - if I haven't said it yet. And there was really very little to do, a couple of apostrophes, cap letters and a typo were about it.

My stuff is nearly always worse than that, and I am writing in my first language.

MotM said...

Ebren - You're a two-time hon mensh. can't be much more polished than that!

I'm on draft four of this week's SINGLE submission and it's getting less interesting with every pass: but it does look more like the winners (sigh).

Good luck with this week's piece - Istanbul-based perhaps?

marcela said...

pipita - very nice! well done.

miro: i know exactly what you mean, and to some extent I agree.

but i also think much of the challenge of the blogosphere is the possibility to 'move around' if you like. to follow links from one site to another. if i knew you had written something which was posted on this blog i would make a point of coming to seek it. much in the way i read GU blogs for the comments from contributors such as yourself.

it is inevitable that much will change and continue to change, as both the rules and the nature of the form are being defined. this is one possible development, and it is an interesting one.

it will not, and should not, replace our visits to GU sportblog. But as an addition it greatly enhances the sense of community and allows us all to read more of each other... surely that is OK.

will you write something, miro? your english is excellent, as you well know. :)

Ebren said...

This week's was written on Sunday night after flying back in the afternoon, eating, and watching TV. Polish was applied. Istanbul features.

I might do another one - I want to make that final step to the podium.

Be careful with the polish. Tight copy is good, a lack of personality/humour is bad.

It's really hard to keep perspective on jokes/turns of phrase after you've first thought of them. Get second opinions before you delete or trust your initial instincts.

The joy of blogging is a lack of time/ability to second guess yourself - it leads to more wit/spontaneity I reckons.

pipitag@hotmail.com said...

Cheers motm I also used to think that the cresp was a much classier act than the drog, but judging by the latter's performances this season at chelsea I think that gap has narrowed quite a bit. True, crespo's mind did at times seem somewhere else last season at chelsea, with all that tedious stuff about his adapting or not adapting to the Knitesbridge way of life, but on the other hand he did at times also look happy and eager to win on the pitch, at least in most games I saw him. I even recall seeing him him cry with emotion when chelsea did their lap of honour after clinching the prem

marcela said...

pipita: can one cry without emotion?

miro said...

Dear friends, I love all of you so much and I like your works too, that I am prepared to give up!

marcela said...

sorry about my previous question. of course one can.

the goals against america de cali you mention, pipita, and in fact that match: last year gillette shot an advert with crespo at the chelsea training ground. some argentinian young men were hired as extras and before crespo arrived the production crew were keen to make sure the extras didn't bother crespo. you know, keep the celebrity cocooned kind of thing. but at the end of the shoot one of them managed to edge close to him and asked for an autograph. i saw they chatted for a bit and crespo looked visibly moved.
later he told me what the guy had said. it turned out he was a long time supporter of river and had not only been at the stadium for crespo's last game but had also ran onto the pitch and became part of the scrum that carried crespo around for the victory lap.
"that's a nice story" i said. and crespo said: "nice? that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand!"
eso es lo grosso del futbol...
i don't know how to translate that.

pipita said...


Very flattered to receive comments by one of our GU blog favorites and fellow argie. Can one cry without emotion?? errrrr....yes, off course, crespito may well have been crying out of frustration cause drogba scored more goals than he did, or, wishful thinking here, cause his beloved River had just been kicked out of the libertadores and we know where his heart will always be no matter for which euro team he is playing

MotM said...

miro - if eavesdropping on this little exchange doesn't convince you of the joy of blogging here, nothing will!

Lovely stuff from the South American maestros.

As a PS, am I right in thinking that Argentina very nearly became an English speaking country and that it's economy was bigger than Japan's in the early part of the 20th century? I've always wondered what would have happened had the USA had a large, English speaking economy to its South.

Ebren - the humour is a really key issue. It arises spotaneously on the blog and you just don't care whether people like it or not, because they'll scroll to the next post. That's harder to do in a block of 500 (or more) words and I think the GU judges have played it safe by not including any humour-driven pieces (so far). It's a shame really, as it's great fun to read the funny posts.

Ebren said...

MotM - I've been trying to use funny lines rather than entire pieces.

i.e. the "How did Chinalglia play - well imagine if Paul Dicov was good at football". Which I thought was great when I though of it - then it became less and less funny as I re-read.

I though yout blogger olympics was brilliant by the way.

pipita said...


That really is a great anecdote about that glorious night...whenever they show clips of the river-america game, Im still amazed to see that when the final whistle goes the camera zooms on crespo, for obvious reasons, and in the first instance NOBODY runs to embrace him, therefore he is left not knowing who to celebrate with, so they immediately zoom on francescoli, and off course he's surounded by practically everone on the pitch....their you have it, the curse of crespito


Wel, not quite, re argentina becoming english-speaking. The brits invaded bs aires and montevideo in 1806-1807, at the time of the napoleonic wars whilst these countries were still spanish colonies, but they eventually got kicked out by combined spanish-argie-creoles forces, so, who knows had it gone the other way...Re Argentina being a tremendously wealthy nation towards end of the 19th century, very much so. But as you may well know, we blew that one by the end of the 20th century...by the way, as a fellow evertonian liked your piece on sheedy. was really fond of him as well, especially because I saw him score a cracker in one of my few visits to goodison, a rocket of a shot against derby somewhere around 1990.

Dear Miro


olivier said...

Hola amigos,


well done, thank you for that. I watched Crespo closely during the last France - Argentina game in Paris and his movement off the ball is truly amazing. The way he gets away from his marker for the first goal should be shown in schools for center forwards around the world. Nearly scored another one himself in the second half, only denied by a great save from Coupet. Do you think he'll figure in 2010?


please give us something to read, anything, a film script, a travel guide, a serbian quiche recipe, anything, please. I'll even send something myself this week, something too long, too French, pompous and so pathetic that Ebren can put it next to yours to make yours look even better. I'm only joking, yours would look good anyway, so please.


isn't it tempting to write a piece without word count limitations, something that's off-topic with itself, with no constraints whatsoever, and for a small but highly discerning audience? And for free, for the love of the game? I don't think you can resist...

olivier said...

By the way, for those of you who don't know yet, "olivier" is just a front, a fake identity I use during the day when I mingle with mortals.

My true identity, which I use nightly to rewrite football history on the blogs (and to confuse the taxman) is, of course, offsideintahiti.

MotM said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Pipita - Sheedy never scored a bad goal and I'm glad you saw at least one of them. I recall a Boxing day goal in the fog at Derby which got us a 0-1 and three more points towards the '85 or '87 titles. It'll never happen again.

Thanks for the Argentina background stuff. I don't know much, but I do know that there are pockets of Welsh speakers and countless Argentines with English and Scottish surnames (Brown in the 86 World Cup team springs to mind) and lots of football teams with British names - Everton I think!.

I wonder if there's a book on the cultural and sporting historical relationship of England and Argentina? If not, Marcela would you be the author?

Miro sensei - We implore you to post.

marcela said...

offside - surely the attraction would be to read pieces by yourself and miro rather than more of me... i post comments which are deemed both off-topic and don't restrict themselves to word counts. for free.
but i'll gladly inundate ebren with nonsense if miro writes something, and you yourself.

BTW - you wrote a comment about zidane last year which i cut and pasted onto a thread later on. it was so lovely... i couldn't bear not to spread it around further. you're no aspiring sports hack, are you? you are a writer. so, tit for tat. show me yours and i'll show you mine...

MOTM - i enjoyed your pieces too. i didn't comment then because i was - blissfully - away from the mac friday and saturday.

pipita said...


Was almost sure it was you, though must confess that until your next entry arrived, thought it could also be guitou. Yeah, I remember reading some english football journalist, a well known one cant remember his name, who wrote that crespo deserved an honorary degree on movement off the ball. Ill never forget a goal he scored in a friendly against italy in rome, not only for the way he anticipated his marker, none other than maldini,to connect the ball being crossed to him from the left, but also by the way he managed to flick it in, all this in a split second. Gorgeous


Yeah indeed, You bet, loads of scottish, engllish and irish surnames over here. Their was even a Macallister at racing and boca. red haired an all, but completely argentine. As for the welsh in patagonia, apparently its the only colony of that origin in the world, their main town is called trelew. Re argie-england football books, theirs a quite recent book by a bloke called dawson, I think his name is -marcela help me out here, you probably have heard about this- who also wrote one on england-germany rivalry. Pretty good on the football, a bit too simplistic on the politics for my liking. Has becks and maradona on the cover, Ill try and get hold of the exact title soon

pipita said...

motm, sorry forgot, their's an everton in chile, a liverpool in uruguay, and an arsenal in argentina who are currently league leaders with river after three matches

andrewm said...

Pipita, as a part-time Inter fan I couldn't care less if Crespo was distracted at Chelsea - it's a delight to have him back.

Marcela, miro has lost his confidence. Perhaps some more encouragement from you would be what he needs, if you'd be so kind.

Offside - get writing.

andrewm said...

Great news!

Miro has this very moment sent me an article, exclusively for this blog. I'll do a quick basic edit, then you can all enjoy it.

pipita said...


Im basically an inter fan as well because quite a few river favorite's of mine played there: pasarella, ramon diaz, almeyda and hernan off course


I support that motion too. Why not write something on Dzazjic, if thats spelt correctly, one of the best left wingers Ive ever seen

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

careful what you wish for. If I write something, you'll have to read it. It might be more painful than you think.


I know what you mean. But, something different? Show us your punk side...

Ebren said...

I have the Englannd Germany book on my shelf now.

It's written by David Downing.

Not sure if that helps, but I would also love to read a decent book on Argentine footy.

MotM said...

Britain - Argentina? Football would be a part of it, but there's so much more. I might have to cruise Amazon to find something, but I suspect the book is waiting to be written.

Once kids are asleep, I'll kick back and enjoy Miro's contribution.

PS There's always a danger trying satire. My piece last week about England only selecting 6ft 3in players for the 2018 World Cup Final has just been done for real on Five Live with an appeal for tall youngsters to try out for the 2012 British Olympic Rowing, Handball and Volleyball development squads - you couldn't make it up!

Ebren - I liked the Dickov bit and always enjoy a good line. Very few repay repeated reading - except from the true masters. Here's a couple from Wodehouse apposite for this blog I suggest and absolutely superb.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French."


"Rugby football is a game I can't claim absolutely to understand in all its niceties, if you know what I mean. I can follow the broad, general principles, of course. I mean to say, I know that the main scheme is to work the ball down the field somehow and deposit it over the line at the other end and that, in order to squalch this programme, each side is allowed to put in a certain amount of assault and battery and do things to its fellow man which, if done elsewhere, would result in 14 days without the option, coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench."

There's one on every page - genius!

Ebren said...

Ah Plum, how I wish I could write like you.

"Love (said the oldest member) is an emotion that your true golfer should always treat with suspicion.

"I am not saying it is a bad thing, only that it is an unknown quantitiy."

The only man to make me want to play golf seriously.

andrewm said...

Mouth, I take it you know this one then:

"It surprised him in a vague sort of way that a girl should have such a firm and sensible grasp on the important problems of life. He had taken his sister to Lord's one summer to watch the Gentlemen v Players and she had asked him if the sightscreens were there to keep the wind off the players. He had not felt really well since."

MotM said...

I hadn't read either of those Plum quotes - brilliant, of course.

I tend not to read the quotes websites, as there's just too much to take in, But the delight of being on holiday is a cold beer and another Wodehouse from the shelf. Seems he wrote more or less every day for 70-odd years and I think each of those days he wrote a better line than I will EVER write.

Great fan of sport too.

Ebren said...

Quotes website?!?

Foresooth man. I have the books here. The clicking of cuthbert is one of the great sports books of all time - and that's coming from someone who has almost no time for golf.

I've recently been devouring the Blandings Castle books, less well-known, gentler, but utterly wonderful.

pipita said...


Exactly, Downing, thats the correct name. Ive got the england-argentina somewhere in my shelves. Ill send you exact details of that book when I get home. By the way, I thought that chinaglia-dickov analogy you made was great, and also enjoyed your piece on Lazio. Giorgio Chinaglia was the typical footballer who looked anything but a footballer when wearing ordinary clothes

MotM said...

Blandings Castle?

My favourites of all. I feel myself every day morphing into Lord Emsworth with the SportsBlog,
and now this, taking the place of the Empress of Blandings.

Cuthbert I have on the shelf - it'll be coming down soon.

Ebren said...

pipita - one of the best things about blogging from home (however sad) is that you have your books to hand.

The internet is great - but having the books to hand is better.

Thanks for the praise, I was toying with a whole piece on Chinalgia - but thought the story of the team was better.

Sorry for turning your blog into a litterary appreciation class.

On the plus side - you now have more comments than James Richarson for the day ;o).

If only I had data on hits - I might even be able to make some $$$ from advertising (which I promise would be distributed back to authors or go into a beer fund for bloggers).

Ebren said...

I wonder what Whiffle would say was the best remedy for a bloated blog.

More castor oil in the bran mix I dare say.

Definately not petersen's pup preparation.

Sorry Pipita. I'll be good from now on - promise (don't delete me AM - please).

pipita said...


Oh please, never mind the digressions. Its been thrilling enough to see a thread, containing the comments of much esteemed Gu bloggers, develop out of an article of my authorship. Cheers again to you and all the others

marcela said...

the england v. germany book was called 'best of enemies' which is just such a good title. i haven't read the argentina one. pipita, you should write it... no?

offside - punk, moi? never. always a hippie. albeit a scientific materialist one..

guitougoal said...

pipita, there is not too much to add on this blog because everybody said it, I was standing in the corner while all the friends were getting on board to compliment you. Wonderfull experience my compliments to you and a tip of the cap to Ebren for putting up this...I am speechless.

olivier said...


we all have a punk side, even hippies and angels. Zidane showed us his in the world cup final. Thanks for re-posting that comment of mine, I'm glad you liked it.

And no, I am not an aspiring sports hack but I will throw something in the mix this week and it won't even be about football.

pipita said...


Better late than never, thanks a million for your kind words


Its too late for that, downing's already written it.... found the book at home, its called England V Argentina, World Cups and Other Small Wars, published by Portrait in 2003.

MotM said...

This was written in 1992 and seems to cover a broader range than the Downing book. At 15 years old and £31, I shan't be buying it, but if revised, I'd be in there. Perhaps a trip to the library?

The Land That England Lost: Argentina and Britain, a Special Relationship (Hardcover)
by Alistair Hennessy (Editor), John K. King (Editor)

Ebren said...

This one looks interesting

Masculinities : Football, Polo and Tango in Argentina


kokomo said...

well, i am a bit gutted that i missed all this, unfortunately i was also standing in the corner with guy.

Nothing to add really, but am about to read miro's entry, so am quite excited!

Bluedaddy said...

Nice piece Pipita. In a better world Crespo would be up there with Gianfranco as a Chelsea hero. It seems the chemistry was never quite right. But all the brainy Chelsea fans I know loved him. He has exquisite touch, and legendary movement and timing, but I think he was too subtle for his team mates, except maybe Eidur Gudjohnsen. Jose had a need to prove he was right to buy Drogba, his man, and Crespo paid the price I feel. And yet there were signs last season that DD and Crespo could have played together profitably. But I am glad he was a Blue. His goals versus Liverpool said it all about him: Effortless skill... overlooked by history.

pipita said...

Many thanks blue, really appreciate your comments. Would have liked to write more on crespo at chelsea, as I saw a lot of their matches on tv whilst he was there. Actually went a couple of times to the bridge last season. Think he was okay in 2003-04, although playing up front with mutu and jimmyfloyd did him no favours. Last season he played much better, and probably you have a point with what you say about jm and dd. Latter recently said jm should have played them both like he's doing now with dd and sheva. Think crespo's best goal was that unfairly disallowed one against liverpool, a tremendous lob. Reckon that was his best match at chelsea

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