Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nicolas Anelka = Terrell Owens/Randy Moss?

Before I get to my idea I just want to put something out there, not just for this post but for every other post I make in the future. There is a reason I don't call "soccer" "football" on this site. As an American, I already have "football" and that's college football and the NFL, where they kick, punt, run, and throw the ball. What everyone else across the world calls "football" will always be called "soccer" here, so that's just for further reference. This particular post deals with athletes in both soccer and football, so that's why I wanted to make note of the distinction.

There is also a reason that Nicolas "The Incredible Sulk" Anelka has played for seven professional clubs even though he's still relatively young, just 28 years old. It's no coincidence that a striker who has scored (depending on what statistical site you look at) 110 goals in 327 league appearances since the 1995 season and represented his country 43 times since 1998 has bounced around from country to country (France, England, Spain, back to France, back to England, Turkey, and back to England). According to the commentators in today's Bolton-Manchester United match in which Anelka had the game-winning goal, Anelka is the second most expensive player in the world in terms of combined transfer fees paid with a total value of nearly $140 million US.

For someone who has played for some of the most historical, successful clubs in the world, Anelka sure knows how to rub his employers and teammates the wrong way. The longest he's ever stayed at one team is three seasons (Manchester City). You can't argue with his goal-scoring record; he's a prolific striker, but his problem is that wherever he goes, he's a cancer in the locker room/dressing room/changing room, whatever you want to call it.

In the NFL, a league known for its primadonna wide receivers and defensive backs, two players immediately stand out to be the same type of guy as Anelka. Mr. "I play when I want to play" Randy Moss, and Mr. "Get your popcorn ready, it's gonna be a show" Terrell Owens. Both of these guys are incredible, almost superhuman athletes; both have the talent to end up in the Hall of Fame as two of the best receivers to ever play the game of football, period. Both have already set numerous NFL records and with the way they're playing now, more will continue to fall when they're still playing.

Nicolas Anelka, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens. When you keep them happy and they're interested, these guys all produce and are or very near the best at their positions in their respective sports. When they're disgruntled or their team is losing or they're not getting the ball enough, they start whining and become guys you simply don't want to have on your team, regardless of how naturally gifted they are.

In Anelka's case, you can't argue with a goal every three games, which is his average over his career. What you can find fault in is his inability to grow up and mature and be part of a team because his behavior has a direct correlation with how the players on the field with him perform, and it's the same for Moss and Owens. Right now, Moss and Owens are in a good situation where their teams are winning and they're getting the ball, so they can't complain. Anelka, however, is scoring but his team isn't winning; Bolton, despite their huge win today, may be relegated at the end of the season. The biggest question, then, is this: Will he, like Randy Moss, who basically campaigned his way out of Oakland last year where the team was awful and he was simply disinterested, and like T.O., who left Philadelphia two seasons ago on bad terms and joined their rival in Dallas so he could burn them when the two teams played, try and leave Bolton for a better team in January? For Bolton's sake, hopefully not.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I would disagree with this. Nico has matured considerably since dumping his brother/manager. He's developed the ability to put his personal feeling aside for the good of the team. Look at his recent performance for France, (recent injury notwithstanding)
and the fact that he keeps coming through for Bolton despite the team's pathetic performance.

Big Sam made a huge difference in helping him mature and realize his potential, as did his recent marriage. He still doesn't suffer fools well, but I don't think I'd respect him more if he did.

When I watch him play for France, I see an entirely different player from what I saw even a year ago. Just as talented, but more mature. He's become one of my favorite players due to his composure on the ball and ability to be a part of the team.

He deserves to be playing in a Champions League team, but unfortunately too many people see him the way you do.