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Could personal technology stop a winning World Cup squad spirit?

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Tim Vickery | 08:34 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

I have been back in England for a quick visit and I was struck by an outburst that Hull boss Iain Dowie aimed at his squad.

"Sometimes the players have to forget about the iPods," he said. "They need to think about what really matters."

He went on to admit: "I'm not a big fan of these big earphones on the way to games," and that "my thing with the iPod generation is that when they leave the ground and go away to their closeted little lives they shouldn't forget what's got them where they are and what impact they can have."

It is, of course, the complaint of a member of one generation about the desocialising effect of technology on the next.


Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel MessiArgentina star Lionel Messi in his own bubble as he listens to his headphones

Towards the end of his international career, England defender Gareth Southgate observed that when the squad were together at the end of the day, those sitting round a table having a chat and swapping experiences were the older players. The younger ones had scuttled off to their rooms and their laptops, DVDs, video games and so on.

So how can the coach create and maintain a collective spirit among his squad in an age when the players are willing and able to stay in their own private little world?

This is a question that is especially pertinent for national team coaches as the 2010 World Cup approaches. True, they can count on a certain linguistic and cultural harmony among their players. But they operate under huge time restrictions. Outside tournaments, the squad are together for just a few days. In these short periods, how can a collection of individuals be moulded into a team?

The success that Dunga has enjoyed as Brazil coach is perhaps partially explained by the thought he has given to this question.

Seen as a stop gap when he was appointed after the World Cup in Germany four years ago, Dunga has taken his team to victory in the Copa America, the Confederations Cup and first place in South America's World Cup qualifiers. Many will dispute his methods but his results are beyond reproach - Brazil go to South Africa on a run of one defeat (and that at extreme altitude) and 18 wins in the last 24 games.

He had no previous coaching experience. But he did have experience in the threat that technological advance can pose to group spirit.

He was captain of the side that won the World Cup in 1994. "That team had something fundamental," he said. "It was a group that taught the country how to win. We went without for 24 years, with exceptional players, but unable to take that step. And that 94 generation did it, showing that work comes first."

Four years later in France the team never looked as solid, and fell apart in the final against the hosts. Quite apart from any technical or tactical deficiencies, Dunga acknowledged a small piece of technology played its part in their downfall - the mobile phone.

In 1994 they were almost unheard of in Brazil. By 1998 all the players had them. And so the outside world was continually allowed in, interfering with the focus of the group, undermining the process by which a team gels and the collective unit becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Back in 94, Brazil's coaching staff were worried about Romario. The little striker was extraordinarily talented. But he was a born individualist. Could he be relied upon to tow the line, to be part of a team effort on and off the field over the course of an entire World Cup campaign? The fate of the entire endeavour was hanging on finding an answer.

The solution? Put Romario in the same room as Dunga. The combative midfielder helped keep him in line, and the rest is history.

It is also an inspiration for the present day. When Dunga took over as coach, one of his early moves was to stop the players having individual rooms. They should share, and they should bond.

This process seems to have taken place with enormous success. Players such as Elano and Robinho may have had problems with their clubs, but on national team duty they are seen as paragons of commitment, ready to carry out any role required of them. Dunga has been able to bring their talent into his project. They are part of his group.

It is for this reason that Dunga looks like holding out against a form of pressure traditionally exerted by the Brazilian media in the build up to the World Cup - the campaign for star names. Two months ago it was all about Ronaldinho. Now, Santos wonderkid Neymar is the peoples' choice.

But they are not part of his group - and Dunga can argue that individuals might win matches, but groups win titles. But the knives will be out if his group do not prove good enough to bring the glory back from South Africa.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:


Q) We all know about the fortunes of Adriano, Ronaldo and Robinho, but I was wondering what you could tell us about other players who have returned to Brazil - namely, Roberto Carlos, Fred, Vagner Love, Cicinho and Kleberson. I hear that the two full-backs in particular have struggled.
Sam Cooper


A Still early days for Cicinho, who has been struggling for fitness. Roberto Carlos had early problems with the criteria of the referees - these days in Brazil everything is a foul, and he was sent off a couple of times. But as he's found his feet there has even been speculation that, with Brazil having problems at left back, he could sneak into the World Cup squad.

Fred had some injury problems last year. Since coming back he looks impressive, giving a terrific platform up front and leading the charge as Fluminense had a miracle escape from relegation.

Kleberson of Flamengo was excellent until getting injured last year - recapturing his 2002 form and winning an international recall. The club are going through some turbulence at the moment. Vagner Love has been scoring goals for them, after an unhappy return to Palmeiras, but his partnership with Adriano has been hit by the latter's injury.

The Brazilian Championship kicks off in a couple of weeks time - boosted by the presence of all these players.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Tim

    Flipside though... can technology improve a squad?? For every yin there may be a yang, so whilst the older players huddle round and gas about the good old days, perhaps the younger guys are huddled round the Xbox, proving their skills and bonding in this way?



  • Comment number 2.

    Surely professional footballers have had Walkmans, CD players etc since the 1980's? Personal music systems are not exactly a new technology, although mp3's are comparitively recent. I don't see how this is a new problem and most clubs ban the use of mobile phones/headphones by players during training anyway.
    Sounds like lame excuses are being invented for the World Cup already!

  • Comment number 3.

    Great article, I find it interesting that an issue that is fast becoming endemic of society as a whole could affect a World Cup bid as well. You would think that the one thing that would unite a group of men is collective glory, but footballing endeavour and sportsmanship and camaraderie often seem lost to me in the modern game. There's far too many people on the fringes of football that pander to the collective ego of our star players. I assume that this is the case in Brazil as well?

    While I'm not entirely appreciative of Dunga's footballing philosophy, you have to say that he has done well to create a bond and team spirit. To me that seems to be one of the most important challenges in football management now. I won't ask you to speak for the people of Brazil, but broadly speaking are people behind the team ethic, or do they want to see the stars and the celebrity that the worldwide press hanker for?

  • Comment number 4.

    I have often wondered about this when you see the players filing out of the team bus each with there own massive set of 'cans'on, to some extent you can see why they would prefer to listen to music than converse with one another, as they are not exactly renowned for the sparkling wit and charisma especially if there post match interviews are anything to go by.

  • Comment number 5.

    They play for themselves.

  • Comment number 6.

    As someone of the older generation I am very much on the side of Dowie/Dunga. All they are really asking for is a small sacrifice for a huge reward. I think Capello will hold similar views.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think it's simle.. they see one player start to do it and they all follow.. footballers are like sheep. If one of the bigger names does something they all tend to follow.

    I dont see a problem with them listening to music when they are on the team bus etc.. its when the coach starts talking that they have to listen. I'm surprised about the support for sharing rooms.. I think it was Roy Keane who wrote in his book that he was a grown man playing for one of the biggest teams in the world and he couldnt have his own room due to tradition.. if you look at it in this sense it does seem a bit ridiculous.. You shouldn't have to force team bonding.. in doing so you may just create the opposite.

  • Comment number 8.

    great article as usual tim! i agree that team spirit is absolutely vital i think thats one of the reasons barca are so good at the moment!

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 - - Stevat - I agree.

    I feel in my bones that either Spain or Brazil will win 2010, and I would definitely prefer the former. The pragmatism of the current Brazil doesn't sit as well with me either; when I think of Brazil I think of stepover nutmegs, samba, Nelinho hitting shots from somwhere outside the stadium, Zico turning an entire stadium including the TV audience & commentators before passing the ball to the Doctor to score, central defenders somehow out on the wing, cavalier formations etc etc... I don't think of 2 dour holding midfielders and solid defensive organisation. Spain are nowadays the foremost providers of fantasy football... but wouldn't it be just like Brazil to be the Germany to Spain's Holland/Hungary... sorry that's a terrible analogy but I'm so hungover.

  • Comment number 10.

    I have a pain in my rear end with people not talking to each other any more and blasting their eardrums with rubbish music. He is right, the noughties have beccome the decade of individualism. I predict in 50 years the world cup will be won by a individual, it will be accepted he played in a one man team all tournament, and all the credit will go to him. Not the manager not the 22.

  • Comment number 11.

    bit of a waste of an article. any coach blaming an iPod is surely just the excusemaker?

  • Comment number 12.

    #7, I get what you're saying, but sometimes you have to force an individual to work in a team environment. I am certainly not a Man U fan, far from it, but unlike you I think Ferguson is rather good at getting a team to gel. That is just my opinion though, but I look at their team this season, and I think I see more talent in other sides, but he keeps them competitive. I would say he knows what he's doing, despite Roy Keane's assertions. Perhaps at the end of their respective managerial careers we can compare notes and see who was right.

  • Comment number 13.

    also, you're supporting the ridiculous assertion that all players prepare mentally in the same way. different players need different things, and Roy Keane (as quoted above) is right that it is ridiculous to try and standardise preparation for a group of individuals.

  • Comment number 14.

    collie21.. with the way they are talking about Lionel Messi, 50 years seems too long!!

  • Comment number 15.

    In regards the use of Ipods, I speculate that the players are only using these devices in the few hours leading up to their entry to the stadium.
    From my own footballing experiences I find that this relaxes and motivates at the same time. Its doubtful that these players walk around the World Cup camp listening to their favourite music 24/7.

    And Collie21 what you term as 'rubbish music' might differ from the views of one person to the next!

  • Comment number 16.

    For me success in football is about how you prepare physically and then how you train with your team mates.

    As long as you have that understanding on the pitch, it shouldn't matter whether you are best mates off the field and socialise with your team mates.

    There are a lot of theories about team bonding but I don't think players necessarily need to get on at a personal level, although it can help. The Yorke & Cole partnership for Man Utd in the treble year springs to mind, but Cole himself has said that he and Yorke were very different personalities to each other, they just hit it off with their football understanding.

    Footballers just need to improve their game intelligence and understanding, which comes from training mainly or a natural link-up. I could pick 10 of my best mates to form a football team but it doesn't mean we'd beat Brazil. Being best mates is not the main criterion for a successful team.

    I don't think, for example, the England squad or any other international team need to be constantly in each other's company or should be forced to share rooms like teenagers on a school trip. If you dislike someone, being forced to spend time with them can have a negative effect.

  • Comment number 17.

    What the hell is wrong with listening to music on your iPod, if that's how a player feels most comfortable preparing for a game then let them.

    Saying they should not and instead should communicate with their fellow players is such an old fashioned approach, yes team bonding is important but it doesn't have to be done all the time, just because someone is on your team doesn't mean they're your friend, forcing players to constantly communicate will only make them dislike each other more.

    Dowie is just making excuses, personal music players have existed for over 30 years, I'll admit the big ear phones look stupid but if if it makes the player comfortable and prepared for games then surely that's what's most important.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim - as per usual a great article, the voice of reason on the BBC, imformative, persuasive and thoughtful. I don't always agree with you (generally i do including here) but i appreciate that you deliver your arguments with reason avoid cosying up to the lowest-common denominator official bashing and deliver articles with orignal and interesting content.

    With regards to this article i feel that Ali McCoist's success at Rangers and Scotland is testament to team spirit. Undoubtably his quick witted humour and obvious enthusiasm will filter through to his squad especially important for international teams who rarely spend any concentrated time together. This justifies Scotland's recent favour of team training camps under Smith and McCoist rather than playing pointless friendlies...

  • Comment number 19.

    I've often thought this about seeing players with headphones before and after they get on the bus - and I think while it's right that every player has their own way of preparing for the game, being plugged in to phones, ipods etc should be the exception rather than the rule and the focus should be on preparing the team together. I often wonder with footballers, nowadays and in the past, whether they socialise much, if there are cliques etc - a club team only has a few hours training a day, then players go to do whatever they like, so if they wanted they'd hardly ever have to speak to another player. This is even more the case for international teams. I just think managers should keep some team rituals and some social time that all have to be involved in. My 6 a side team definitely benefited from just going to the pub after games to discuss our tactics, football and other things and it definitely helped us overachieve.

  • Comment number 20.

    I agree with the article that team bonding is crucial to success. But not too impressed with Dowie blaming iPods for a lack of focus. There are many ways to create the right environment for teams to bond well without banging on about iPods.

  • Comment number 21.

    Please don't assume all young people ignore each other, sitting on their own and never interacting. They're often on their mobile phones, building up friendships and bonds. And if they want to play Xbox or listen to their ipod, it's to get away from football for some time, get their heads clear of it and relax. I know Fabio Capello made sure the England camp had Playstations and all kinds of facilities. He did however, ban mobile phones I think?
    These people are used to being millionaires, you can't treat them like children on summer camp.

  • Comment number 22.

    20 - when Brazil are in the bus on the way to the stadium they'll usually make their own music - bring out some percussion instruments and get in the mood collectively with a little sing-song. I always think that's great - the team singing together before going out to play together.

  • Comment number 23.

    22. At 12:10pm on 19 Apr 2010, Tim Vickery - BBC Sport wrote:

    good for you, not in the least patronising. have you considered the quality of players Brazil have may be a factor in their success? i know your article has a point to make but have you got anything more than your interpretation of anecdotes? are you suggesting that France, Greece and Italy overcame the problems caused by iPods to win against the odds?

    (of course, if you bother to answer this point i'll be forced to conced you are better than the other BBC bloggers, who only respond to praise)

  • Comment number 24.

    23 - but you've missed dunga's point. Between 1970 and 94 Brazil went without winning the World Cup - despite a conveyor belt of great players. Didn't win last time - despite a conveyor belt of great players. So what was missing?

    clearly, the most important factors in any campaign are footballing - technical ability, tactical organisation and so on. But in a collective endeavour the way that the parts fit together is also important.

    I've read accounts of World Cup winning campaigns from Brazil, Argentina and England - something really striking is that, totally independently of each other, they've all made the same point - that in the course of a World Cup campaign the players who don't get on the field are as important as those who do - they help to set the tone, because if they're unhappy and bored they can bring everyone down with their moaning or attempts to undermine the first team. I've been struck by the vehemence with which this point has been made by players and coaches from all three countries.

    So my point really is that this type of union might well be harder to create nowadays because of the effects of technology. I don't believe that team spirit can win a World Cup - but it can stop you losing one.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hmm...there seems to be an assumption that if you put a group of very different people in the same environment in an intense situation they will bond. Viewers of Big Brother, Americas Next Top Model, Survivor etc. may disagree!

  • Comment number 26.

    The way the Scottish team that I support plays, perhaps they should wear iPods DURING a match! I hate to see players get off a team coach listening to music. To me, it portrays a "Don't approach me-I'm occupied" message. It just looks selfish.

    Another pet hate of mine is footballers with gloves on during a game! Why not go the whole hog and pull on a booble hat, or perhaps a scarf? Of course if Wayne Rooney and company get REALLY cold, they could carry a little paraffin heater around with them!

  • Comment number 27.

    Good blog!

    Sorry to be a pain, but its "Toe the line" not Tow the line. It stems from early day bare knuckle boxing, where there was a line and both fighters put their toe on the line to start the fight. Pretty much todays touching gloves.

    You learn something new everyday as they say....

  • Comment number 28.

    25 - Big Brother, etc - the people are competing against each other. They are all opponents.
    In football the people will only achieve their individual objectives if the team is successful - i sometimes think that the tension between individual and collective glory is one of the game's most fascinating aspects. Surely one feature of the best coaches is that are able to reduce this tension.

  • Comment number 29.

    One of the most cringworthy sights in football is seeing a team spill off the team coach all with their own ipods etc looking completely dis-interested.

    Shouldn't be allowed to be seen with them in public or when cameras are around.

  • Comment number 30.

    24. At 12:26pm on 19 Apr 2010, Tim Vickery - BBC Sport wrote:

    maybe why Jose is so successful, he is capable of creating a siege mentality? it just seems that the technology (which by the way can form bonds, Xbox games together etc) is a tiny part. Preparation, quality of coaching and players etc.

    But also the Brazil teams you mentioned suffer from playing all over the world, and therefore may require more bonding, and also have a similar problem to the All Blacks where expectations build up egos.



    you say "that in the course of a World Cup campaign the players who don't get on the field are as important as those who do - they help to set the tone, because if they're unhappy and bored they can bring everyone down with their moaning or attempts to undermine the first team" and this is true of the Lions and Ashes teams etc, but it slides behind the giant red herring of technology in your piece.

    there are interesting points regarding teams like argentina and brazil being brought from all across the world and the effect that has on playing together. i'd be interested to see if this is a factor in Dunga picking more home-based players.

  • Comment number 31.

    Teams bond better when the players joke and laugh with each other. Friendly banter strengthens the collective. Individualism and Ipodism has become the new norm of the 00s. Enter an underground train or a bus in London today, and you ll find everyone engrossed in their Ipods or Mp3 players. This seems to have spilled over to football. I remember seeing a YouTube clip of Chelsea players circa 2005/2006 during a practise session where they were having shooting practice with Mourinho in tow. They were all laughing, smiling and taking the mickey out of each other, and any outsider could see the comradrie and community etched in their interactions with each other. Its no surprise that they were successful during that period. Dungas methods are commendable because let's face it, football is getting more physical and demanding of mental concentration, and Brazil to be honest do not have all the personnell it needs to play the jogo bonito football that the purists demand year in year out. Brazil hasn't played that type of football since 82. The 94 team was crude team set up to give the ball to Romario and Bebeto at every turn, and in 2002 the poorest team to ever win the World Cup, won by combining Carlos and Cafu's industry down the flanks, with Gilbertos graft, Ronaldinho's unpredictable bursts of invention, Rivaldo's left legged swagger and the goal scoring instincts of the best striker of our generation, Ronaldo.

    Spain and Barca's recent successes are exceptions to the rule, as you ll find that its very difficult to play flair football and win trophies. A point that is often missed is the amount of graft Barca put to be able to play the way they do. With 33 games played this season, Barca has the least goals conceded - 19. Perharps Puyol, Pique and Bosquets should get as many accolades as Messi, Zlatan, Pedro and Xavi. Spain has top claims to be considered an outstanding favourite for this years WC in South Africa, but somehow I believe that Argentina or Germany may be lucky this year. Dunga's Brazil are in with a shout offcourse because they have arguably the most, among the top footballing nations, recognised and mastered the importance and arts of marrying graft and craft to give their team options for winning crucial matches. In Gilberto and Josue, they have the grafters, and Robinho and Kaka will provide pace and intelligence. Fabiano is an ace finisher who can head the ball, hold up play and shoot with both feet.A solution to the team bonding conundrum may be to insist that any player that wants to listen to the Ipod on the team bus, or in the hotel while with the rest of the team, should play the music out on speakers so the whole team could listen to it. Or the coach should organise Xbox or Playstation playing sessions so everyone gets involved. As Holland showed in Euro 96, team bonding is essential for team success; for years, a team with the likes of the De Boers, Berkamp, Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert and Van Der Saar failed to win anything due to incessant in-fighting. Romario and Bebeto famously made up, and their chemistry delivered 10 goals as Brazil won USA 94.


    Anyone that listens to Lady Gaga before a crucial match is asking for it..lol

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't really think it's a problem for Brazil and Argentina that so many play abroad - they're all in Europe, experiencing similar things.

    The problem, for Brazil anyway, was in 1990. In 86 they only had a couple of European based players, but by 1990 the Italian market had exploded and the squad was 50-50, home based to foreign based. They had real problems pulling together - and, of course, Dunga was there as a player making his mental notes for later.

  • Comment number 33.

    29. At 12:37pm on 19 Apr 2010, RioFutblog wrote:
    One of the most cringworthy sights in football is seeing a team spill off the team coach all with their own ipods etc looking completely dis-interested.



    why would it make you cringe?

    TIM VICKERY - thankyou for your response, and i apologise if my post was insulting/inflammatory

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Re-communicated

    You appear to have misinterpreted the narrative of the piece.

    Tim isn't trying to say that Ipods etc. are the single causal factor in football teams failing to achieve the required results in tournaments but rather highlighting the potential culture clash between the more individualist approach to preparation favoured by today's players and the more collective approach favoured by 'old-school' coaches like Dunga, an approach which reaped rewards in USA 94.

    This question is all too pertinent when talking about the current, and recent, Brazil squads as their success has been less predicated upon the Nike marketed 'jogo-bonito' style of individual flair than on good old-fashioned teamwork and meticulous physical and tactical preparation. It's about highlighting the difference between the failure of Zico and Ronaldinho inspired Brazil and the success of Dunga's workmanlike (with obvious exceptions) USA 94 winners. It is also extremely important when looking at Dunga's likely selections for South Africa, where the extremely talented and occasionally maverick Ronaldinho is considerably less likely to be picked than the more functional but tactically dependable Julio Baptista.

  • Comment number 35.

    Messi sure isn't close to the player he is at Barca, which is practically his motherland.

    And all those people pointing to exceptions as rules, please. Do most players perform better by being in their own bubble? I definitely am not that naive.

  • Comment number 36.

    32. At 12:44pm on 19 Apr 2010, Tim Vickery - BBC Sport wrote:

    but don't you see the iPod is a red herring? they don't wear them in team meetings, or at training as far as i've seen. players just want to focus and block out the hysteria/distractions surrounding a game, and the old practice of one person being dressing room DJ often left a large number of players disliking the music and preparing wrongly.

  • Comment number 37.

    At 31. The Dutch are a bad example, considering the size of their nation and population their success at international level is astounding. That team you mention with De Boers, Bergkamp, Davids, etc got to the semi finals of France 98 and Euro 2000, it's more success than England have had recently for example. This idea of great footballers falling out with each other is something of a cliched view of the Dutch.

    I don't believe that team bonding is what tips the edge at international level, you can laugh and joke all you like but in the end its physical preparation, technical quality and on-field teamwork that tips matches your way. You can get on wonderfuly well off the field and be a completely useless team. National pride and personal commitment are also big factors.

    Mourinho doing karaoke with the Chelsea players was not what won them those titles- that was light relief from the real work- Mourinho's key to success was the training and tactical preparation, thats why he won things and blended squads with players of different nationalities and personalities tgether.

  • Comment number 38.


    Insightful little blog this one. Especially relevant for me working in a school, where ipods and mobile phones are two of the biggest problems I encounter (Call of Duty and Lucozade being the others).

    Cloughy would never have allowed it.

  • Comment number 39.

    34. At 12:45pm on 19 Apr 2010, cruyff_14 wrote:

    but you could just as easily put that down to Dunga himself. He is just one man, and other coaches from a similar era or vein (Deschamps, Maradona) have not adopted this style. it isn't 'old-school' or particular to a generation, which is the eventual tedious resting place for these arguments, "It was better back in the good old days", never made by those currently on the up/of this generation.

  • Comment number 40.

    Teams bond better when the players joke and laugh with each other. Friendly banter strengthens the collective. Individualism and Ipodism has become the new norm of the 00s. Enter an underground train or a bus in London today, and you ll find everyone engrossed in their Ipods or Mp3 players. This seems to have spilled over to football. I remember seeing a YouTube clip of Chelsea players circa 2005/2006 during a practise session where they were having shooting practice with Mourinho in tow. They were all laughing, smiling and taking the mickey out of each other, and any outsider could see the comradrie and community etched in their interactions with each other. Its no surprise that they were successful during that period. Dungas methods are commendable because let's face it, football is getting more physical and demanding of mental concentration, and Brazil to be honest do not have all the personnell it needs to play the jogo bonito football that the purists demand year in year out. Brazil hasn't played that type of football since 82. The 94 team was crude team set up to give the ball to Romario and Bebeto at every turn, and in 2002 the poorest team to ever win the World Cup, won by combining Carlos and Cafu's industry down the flanks, with Gilbertos graft, Ronaldinho's unpredictable bursts of invention, Rivaldo's left legged swagger and the goal scoring instincts of the best striker of our generation, Ronaldo.

    Spain and Barca's recent successes are exceptions to the rule, as you ll find that its very difficult to play flair football and win trophies. A point that is often missed is the amount of graft Barca put to be able to play the way they do. With 33 games played this season, Barca has the least goals conceded - 19. Perharps Puyol, Pique and Bosquets should get as many accolades as Messi, Zlatan, Pedro and Xavi. Spain has top claims to be considered an outstanding favourite for this years WC in South Africa, but somehow I believe that Argentina or Germany may be lucky this year. Dunga's Brazil are in with a shout offcourse because they have arguably the most, among the top footballing nations, recognised and mastered the importance and arts of marrying graft and craft to give their team options for winning crucial matches. In Gilberto and Josue, they have the grafters, and Robinho and Kaka will provide pace and intelligence. Fabiano is an ace finisher who can head the ball, hold up play and shoot with both feet.A solution to the team bonding conundrum may be to insist that any player that wants to listen to the Ipod on the team bus, or in the hotel while with the rest of the team, should play the music out on speakers so the whole team could listen to it. Or the coach should organise Xbox or Playstation playing sessions so everyone gets involved. As Holland showed in Euro 96, team bonding is essential for team success; for years, a team with the likes of the De Boers, Berkamp, Davids, Seedorf, Kluivert and Van Der Saar failed to win anything due to incessant in-fighting. Romario and Bebeto famously made up, and their chemistry delivered 10 goals as Brazil won USA 94.


    Anyone that listens to Lady Gaga before a crucial match is asking for it..lol

  • Comment number 41.

    I was in Agentina last week and on TV they were showing a behind the scenes programme of Estudiantes LP at the Club World Cup. The team unity on show was amazing. The singing and banging when on their way to and from games was inspiring. Can you imagine and English squad singing songs similar to what is sang on the terraces about their love for the football club. Just before the match a video showing Estudiantes' great achievements and pride was shown and that was followed by a huddle with Veron in the middle doing the captain's speech.

    Tim - After the 98 world cup when Argentina knocked England out. Many English players and the press complained that the Argentinian team had insulted because of their extreme bus celebrations. Could the English have mistaken Argentina's routine celebration incorrectly.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am not in agreement with the statement from dowie at all. It's a poor excuse to blame modern technology for impacting team spirit, it's also something you hear from the older generation about the new one in general. I've seen comments about how people are not communicating but they don't anyway with or without these electronic stimulus.

    If you look at the most succesful teams then they will always have a great work ethic and team spirit but spirit isn't built up from sitting on the team bus it's more having a collective goal to work to. The best managers are the ones who earn respect from their group. Chelsea quickly built under mourinho had a great team spirit but it was because he was the glue that kept them all together and focused. It just seems it is two completely different generations clashing, one that feels isolated from the world round about it and how it's changed and the group who are moving with the changes.

  • Comment number 43.

    37. At 12:49pm on 19 Apr 2010, Subterranean wrote:
    At 31. The Dutch are a bad example, considering the size of their nation and population their success at international level is astounding. That team you mention with De Boers, Bergkamp, Davids, etc got to the semi finals of France 98 and Euro 2000, it's more success than England have had recently for example. This idea of great footballers falling out with each other is something of a cliched view of the Dutch.


    no it isn't, it's an accurate picture of a culture which began in a hot tub with Johan Cryff (in fact before then with an election for who should be Ajax team captain) and was then taking even further by Davids/Seedorf's ridiculous claims of racism against them.

  • Comment number 44.

    42. At 1:00pm on 19 Apr 2010, Lookie Bookie wrote:

    well put

  • Comment number 45.

    individual excellence with the context of strong committed team, is what makes great sides..
    Barca's success is partly due to the collective, selfless play of a team which is based on a core of players brought up together in the la masia academy.

    Capello's recent problems with the fallout from the terry -bridge situation.. This could cause problems for england in the WC, as there are still players in englands squad who are bridge sympathisers.

  • Comment number 46.

    Is the article about Dunga and room sharing or modern technology I fail to see the correlation between to two. iPods and mobile music devices only serve to give the players focus and dull some of the nerves and tension the they are faced with.

    The squad is together for a very intense period whereby they are forced to train / eat together every day. If they can get away and 'freshen up' by having some time to themselves then that has to be for the better.

  • Comment number 47.

    Millonarios

    Yes I can imagine the England squad showing pride similar to Argentinians just in a different way, why do people constantly use other cultures to bash England?

    Why not just appreciate that people show pride for their country in different but equal ways? So what if Wayne Rooney doesn't sing terrace anthems? His love of football and commitment to his national team would rival any player in world football.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think this is a bit of a cheap excuse from Dowie and co. It seems a classic example of the older generation misunderstanding the behaviour of the youth. Sure it's good for teams to be cohesive and friendly off the pitch, but that doesn't necessarily mean they all have to sit around gossiping about the good old times together. Younger generations might want to slip off and play computer games or watch a DVD, those aren't necessarily isolationist activities. What's the difference between a pair of players playing FIFA together on the Xbox or a pair sat in the bar playing cards?

    Even in the case of things like Ipods, which are individualistic, it's not damaging to team morale if all the players view that as the norm. If i'm going on a coach trip with friends i'm sure as hell taking my IPod, and i'm sure they will as well. It doesn't mean we are rude or don't like each other, it's just the normal way for people of our age to keep themselves entertained. We surf the internet, listen to music, play games AND socialise with the group, these aren't mutually exclusive activities to us.

  • Comment number 49.

    The best thing to do would be to get the team to play PES 2010, 11 a side all on fixed player. In the same room obviously. You heard it here first.

  • Comment number 50.

    What's the difference between a pair of players playing FIFA together on the Xbox or a pair sat in the bar playing cards?

    one leads to a drinking culture, and a gambling culture (Owen, Gazza, P McGrath etc)

  • Comment number 51.

    Ipods & Room-buddies aside, The one thing I don't like about Dunga is that he never gave guys like Diego Souza (the Brazilian Gerard) or Diego Tardelli (the Brazilian Forlan) a courtesy look on the National Team.

  • Comment number 52.

    @37 (Subterranean)

    I see some key differences between hard work on tactics and such, when its used in a club and in a World Cup squad. The coach has only ONE MONTH to prepare a World Cup Squad, and that Squad will play together one month only. The importance of colletivism and comradrie is MUCH LARGER in such situations than in a club which plays and train together the entire year.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 39 and 44

    I don't really think that this is restricted to Dunga himself. I think you only have to look at the current World Cup holders to see that the collectivist over individualist approach has reaped recent rewards - they won with a relatively weak squad almost entirely devoid of creativity and invention. Italian football might have a long held tradition of the 'cantera' but the tight, extremely media regulated, existence enforced by Lippi was considerably tighter than many previous Italian squads had endured. The purpose clearly was to foster collectivism, team spirit and an 'us against the world' mentality. Ditto, collectivism vs individualism, in Greece's European Championship win. Similar arguments can also be made about Spain's Euro win - each talented player playing a well defined role within the team, often sacrificing individual gifts for the greater good.

    Re. Dutch individualism. There is a great book 'Brilliant Orange' which attributes this to a national trait for liberal and individualistic thought and plain speaking. I appreciate that the label could be argued to be overly generic but it seems to hold some sway in a country which has long mercantile traditions and a football team who, more frequently than others, implode into internal bickering. The Cruyff examples are good ones

  • Comment number 54.

    @Tim: are you resisting to do an article on Santos because you think its too early (they havent proved anything yet) or because of the proximity to the World Cup? Cheers, great blog as usual.

  • Comment number 55.

    Can some one tell me a team that can be a team on the pitch, if they don't have some sort of bonding going on. I would bet a fair packet that the reason Ronaldo and Beckham were moved on by Old Trafford was they weren't playing for the team but for themselves and had little in common with the team mates.
    I would look at the Greeks and even the Irish for that matter, not a lot of individual skill in the pack but the bond the pack have seems pretty strong and they play for each other. I would say it's the difference between Barca and Real as well. Barca seem to have this bond that Madrid dont.
    Granted one mans taste in music is not the same as another, and it sort of proves the point. If you have 11 guys listening to 11 types of music not talking to one another, not looking at one another, not interacting, and 11 blokes making music together having a laugh, which 11 given equal ability would perform on the day?

  • Comment number 56.

    Interesting to see how different sporting cultures consider the new technology. I see the point about having team spirit, and roommates, and stuff, certainly.

    Still, last I heard, there were sixty WPS (US women's football top division) players who were tweeters, and often did so during matches (presumably not while actually playing).

  • Comment number 57.

    @collie21

    Maradona won 1986 on his own already

  • Comment number 58.

    RE: post 53 - 'cantera' is the wrong word. I'd just been reading about Barcelona's youth academy and it popped into my head!

    James Richardson of Football Italia will be crying into his pasta over that slip.

  • Comment number 59.

    44. At 1:06pm on 19 Apr 2010, Re-communicated wrote:
    42. At 1:00pm on 19 Apr 2010, Lookie Bookie wrote:

    well put
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    There seems to be a misconception between having a great coach, and having a bunch of blokes who have nothing in common with an okay coach.

    I would like to see you two on a bus with 11 others with no ipods phones or other devices and see how quickly you start talking...... I am sure good communication is the key, good understanding.

  • Comment number 60.

    Much of modern technology is insular in its very nature - it's ability to shut people off from everyone else is often seen as its main benefit, which is great if your an athlete or indivual sports person.

    In a team game like football however, you have to all be reading from the same script from the get-go and approach the match as finely attuned to your teammates' thoughts as possible to set your rhythm of play as soon as the first ball is kickeds.

    It's the scale of any detrimental effects insular technology creates which can vary but this is heavily influenced by many more factors.

    It is evident from the get-go many sides are visibly beaten if you see players shaking their heads, looking at the bench in puzzlement immediately after concededing a goal or when things are going against them (like Steven Gerrard against Birmingham the other week when Torres was subbed.) The crowd become nervous and it's downhill from there on in.

    On the flip side if you see players grabbing hold of the ball driving their team forward (much like the same player did against Milan a few years back) it has an equally galvanising effect, the positive spirit esculates throughout the entire team and their supporters making them believe anything is possible.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm not a professional athlete but i enjoy listening to a bit of music before going out to do the warm up.

    There are other times for camaraderie like in the hotel at night or on day trips with team mates. Times like these would be suitable to ban i-pods etc.

    Listening to a few of your favourite songs on the team bus or a couple hours before the game when wandering the pitch is a great way to get you psyched up or to just relax before having to play in a huge game.

    I dont see it as a problem

  • Comment number 62.

    There is a lot of focus on this team bonding stuff... like every other walk of life you will always have people you don't get on with.. every person has someone in their workplace that they wouldn't call a friend.. but you are professional and do your job.

    Why should footballers be any different? Why should they be effectively forced to bond with someone they normally wouldnt??

    # 18 I think the success at Rangers is mostly down to Walter Smith dont you think?? I like McCoist but he wants to take the step up to managment when Smith retires and he will find this hard when he has been doing a pals act with players

  • Comment number 63.

    38. At 12:55pm on 19 Apr 2010, Dr Wang wrote:

    Insightful little blog this one. Especially relevant for me working in a school, where ipods and mobile phones are two of the biggest problems I encounter (Call of Duty and Lucozade being the others).

    Cloughy would never have allowed it.

    rampant alcoholism, though...



    55. At 1:33pm on 19 Apr 2010, collie21 wrote:
    Can some one tell me a team that can be a team on the pitch, if they don't have some sort of bonding going on. I would bet a fair packet that the reason Ronaldo and Beckham were moved on by Old Trafford was they weren't playing for the team but for themselves and had little in common with the team mates.


    Ronaldo left because he wanted too, and AF had no choice, and Beckham was part of the generation that were incredibly tight. you'd lose your fair packet.


    59. At 1:48pm on 19 Apr 2010, collie21 wrote:

    entirely not the point. they talk in training, team meetings and a hundred other place, but you see 15 seconds on Sky where they are wearing headphones and you think that's all that happens.

  • Comment number 64.

    to #59 i am afraid i disagree with you. How many people have you ever talked to on a train or a bus? How many conversations have you had that actually moved things on? MOst people meet and bond with people at their work or uni or whatever else they do. The bonding isn't done in the hotel room or the bus as these are down time for the players after a game surely? Some people are mates and some aren't and i am afraid you will never create a bond between two people who just don't get on. TO get them focused on the task and bond as a unit you have to have more than conversations on a bus surely?

    Do you think i have no conversation skills or something because at times i choose to use a mobile or an mp3 player? Thats ridiculous! A football team are not a bunch of strangers so if i was stuck on with people i go to uni with or work with(who i don't get on with) i am sure i could manage a conversation......

    There hasn't been a denial about communication being important but i do think it's built long before any bus journeys. A good manager makes himself the bond for the team and plays on the individual groups of mates who exist at every club. I wouldn't let players use mobiles or anything else when they train or are representing the club but if before the game one wanted to listen to some music i am sure i would manage to let him. If i was blaming that for not winning then i would be making excuses

  • Comment number 65.

    I have a cousin who can chat endlessly to you via emails, facebook, text messages etc. yet when youre actually in the same room trying to have a conversation, quiet as a mouse...

  • Comment number 66.

    65. At 2:03pm on 19 Apr 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:
    I have a cousin who can chat endlessly to you via emails, facebook, text messages etc. yet when youre actually in the same room trying to have a conversation, quiet as a mouse...

    that's a great story

  • Comment number 67.

    But has Dunga actually banned mobile phones and iPods from this years Brazilian squad? I'd be surprised if he has OR could enforce such a ban. That would be a good job for Fabio Capello: ban all media from the England camp, outlaw players from using pointless tech gadgets and prohibit any distracting antics from the Wags.

  • Comment number 68.

    I have a cousin who can chat endlessly to you via emails, facebook, text messages etc. yet when youre actually in the same room trying to have a conversation, quiet as a mouse...

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The point here being? If he can chat endlessly in email etc then surely he is communicating already? Maybe he is a bit shy in company but i don't think you can blame that on technology somehow as i am sure these people will have existed in the past......

    I just think out of all of this it is the usual stuff. I think when tv came along we heard how stupid people would be and be unable to hold a conversation and of course that came true didnt it... Oh wait that didn't actually happen.

  • Comment number 69.

    @41 - Estudiantes are the most part composed of Argentinians. They have a shared heritage, culture and history. They can all relate to the team, its fans and the occasion of putting on the shirt. Most top class sides in Europe nowadays have multi-national squads composed of players from various cultures and backgrounds from all around the world. Its hard to impose a set of togetherness through a uni-culture in such circumstances. Maybe for some players getting together and singing in a huddle before a game is the norm, but for others it would be seen as frivolous and possibly disrespectful to the game you are about to play. I don't think you would ever see the Germans do this before a World Cup final.

    What the best coaches in Europe can do, is mould these multi-national squads together via the universal language of football. It unites languages and cultures without over-enforcing one strict dogma upon many. Its the reason why certain coaches have failed when attempting to coach through a imposition of these cultural methods. Scolari is a good example. He attempted to impose the Brazilian method of togetherness yet probably isolated and confused some members of his squad who weren't used to this South American paternal style management.

    The best coaches are now those that avoid imposing their own narrowed understanding of the global game and the world and can understand the 21st century, with its rapid ascent of globalisation, where people from all corners of the globe are flung together with its high-speed internet, its mobile phones and most importantly its Ipods.

  • Comment number 70.

    The 1994 squad you refer to, I believe that was a workmanlike set of players with the only star being possibly Careca. Fast forward 4 years to when they won it, the bulk of the squad was essentially the same. Players such as Taffarel, Jorginho, Branco, Romario, Dunga, Bebeto, Mazinho, Aldair, Muller, Ricardo Rocha.

    You cannot say that the additions of Viola, and Mauro Silva won Brazil the title in 1994. Essentially the same squad, precisely the same ethos...just a bit of extra luck. Don't forget, the 1990 side were reduced to preventative tactics against Argentina contrary to their true Brazilian attacking style.

    I would sooner see my country perform to their ability than win a trophy through Wimbledon tactics. Who could name the bulk of the failing 1982 squad? Compare that to who could name the 1994 squad. Socrates and Zico falling short, or Marcio Santos and Zetti wiining.

    Dunga unfortunately has got it wrong I feel, Brazil don't need to win a world cup, they need to light one up.

  • Comment number 71.

    Lookie Bookie, I think you are a fantastic example in point. I am not trying to insult you at all. But slow down. You seem to be jumping on everything and everyone not in agreement with you. I think the point is that in the 21st century people seem to be far more focused on themselves and their own little space than geared to the collective, I think ( If I have indeed understood your points) that many of the comments here actually afirm that view, while trying to disagree with it.

  • Comment number 72.

    Not sure if I agree or disagree with the premise of this article. What I do know for sure is that during the 80's and 90's, Stuart Pearce (whilst playing for Forest) was famously (or infamously) known to lie down in the dressing room with the match ball under his head whilst listening to the Stranglers at full pelt through headphones. That was his pre-match preparation, to be locked away in his own world, ten minutes before a game, silently winding himself up to go out and take no prisoners on the pitch.

    And thats a true story, so if players were doing that type of thing as far back as the 80's (and remember, this is the team captain and I'm talking about, not some young hood fresh in from the youth team), then that seems to fly in the face of what this article is raising as a point.

    My point being, footballers are individuals first and foremost. If you try to treat them all as generic robots, then you lost that strength that makes up the individual, and that in turn will hurt your team.

    The skill for any manager is to find the balance between moulding a group together, but still retaining the qualities of each individual in the group. Take away Stuart Pearce's pre match preparation, and you have a player who is not stuart pearce, or at the very least, a player who is not being allowed to be stuart pearce. Come match time, you'll get a player who is a shadow of what he could be.

    Individualism in football is every much as important as the team or group aspect. It's the individuals in the team which gives the team its strength in the first place. Take any one person out of a group, and that group becomes weaker by default. Therein lies the balance of individualism vs group balance.

  • Comment number 73.

    A very interesting blog and a lot of good comments made my posters as well. Our captain tended to be quite quiet on the way to a match. Ipod, reading a book etc. however on the pitch and in the changing room it's a completely different story. Why be insular and cut yourself off? Firstly there was the nerves, no journey is ever the same so it's not your pre-match routine, and secondly many athletes use pre-visualisation of things they're going to do during the match which it is claimed improves your performances. Imagine trying to do this with your Centre Mid nattering away at you. These players spend hours with each other every day for weeks/months on end (especially club players) so they can be excused for not always having hours of conversation for each other.

    Also how often is this said in interviews "He is always the last one of the pitch after training practising set pieces/finishing etc."..... Is this not an individualistic or insular trait.

    Yes team mates need to bond, but it's the gelling of the individual and the team together that is the key.

    P.s. Why does everyone feel that Brazil is here for our entertainment. They have won many world cups playing that way but it's not working any more so they have to change. How incompetent and small minded would the coaching staff look if not?

  • Comment number 74.

    It's an interesting article Tim as always.

    I remember the England squad in 2006 at the World Cup had a great team bonding thing by playing Pro Ev in tournaments on the Xbox. Up here in Scotland there was an article in a paper here at Hibs with the players having great team spirit bonding by playing games like Call of Duty and Pro Ev online with each other. However what i got most of all from it was not what they were doing but whowas organising it. Graham Stack is a real character and he seems to be the boys motivation not the technology that they are using to help.

    I agree Ipods are taking over. I think if they are on a long journey for a few hours in a coach i believe that they should listen to the ipod for a while but not the whole journey. These guys are team mates and yes they need timeto themselves but i think technology is taking over rather than sitting around with thelads and just having a laugh. Technology is ruining children here as they would rather be playing football on the playstation rather than out kicking a ball and it's no wonder as a nation we are so obese in comparison to the rest of Europe.

    Technology can be used to help team spirit but not overused. You need characters to help up the spirit as well as hard work on the pitch etc and i agree with Dungas methods even if it is a risk of upsetting a couple of the lads initially

  • Comment number 75.

    Cracking article yet again, Tim.

    I think it's one of the many challenges that an international manager faces: trying to get a collective group, who are all clear about the goals for the team and the preferred playing style set out by the manager. It has proven to be mightily difficult in the past; a look at Steve McClaren's England side provides more than enough evidence. I think Dunga has to be given huge credit for filtering out all the egoes of the '06 squad, and returning this collectivity to the current side. People can say what they want about Ronaldinho's exclusion, but, as Pep Guardiola has also shown at Barça, it's been proven more than once that the talent of one - however sublime - will never exceed the togetherness of a squad.

  • Comment number 76.

    I agree with Tim that teams that can gel, find it easier to play with each other. I believe, in general, that IPODs and Facebook and Tweeter promote anti social behaviour. How can you prefer to blog with people who are thousand of miles away when you have 20 team mates in the room that you can talk to.

    Team sport is about communicating on and off the field.



  • Comment number 77.

    You need

    1. Skill
    2. Fitness
    3. Attitude
    4. Luck

    What Tim is talking about is how number 3. on that list might be affected by things like iPods.

    ie. Wrong attitude = failure.

    I think he's absolutely right in that.

    And to my mind, anyone who disagrees with that either knows nothing about football or nothing about success. Or both.







  • Comment number 78.

    Mr Vickery, volcano providing I'll be in South America from May 5th so am hoping to catch a few games starting with Flamengo v Sao Paolo..

    However, I notice Argentina's national league finishes soon. With the World Cup so soon after, can I expect any Argentinian domestic football in late May/early June? I'm finding fixtures pretty hard to come by. Obviously seeing the big clubs would be ideal but anything in Buenos Aires would an experience I'm sure.

    Also if you've got any match going tips (however small) they'd be much appreciated! Cheers.

  • Comment number 79.

    We have definitely seen a movement towards individualism and away from collectivism, but I don't think it's a trend that has only started appearing since the 2000s. I would suggest big political events, like the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Thatcherism has contributed to his new ethos of self interest and individualism. Everyone remembers Thatcher's remark about there being no such thing as society, and she was merely reflecting upon the beliefs of the philosopher Hayek, who also believed in this model of human beings as selfish individuals pursuing their own self interest. Moreover, the collapse of communism, a political/economic model based on collectivism, was used by the western media as a signal that the type of behaviour and man they were trying to socially engineer cannot work, and that the individualistic, self interested model is the way forward.

    Having said all this though, I don't see modern technological advances as necessarily exacerbating the problem of self centred behaviour. In fact, I actually think social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook can engender and promote friendships and could encourage people to get out of their shell and become more social. For example, if you join a facebook group to become a fan of a certain individual/product/team, it gives you the opportunity to forge friendships with like minded people. Moreover, I know a lot of people use facebook to organise parties, and maybe invite people whom you would normally be a bit shy to invite by asking them directly.

    Therefore I don't think we should blame technological advances for the rise of individualism. It's a matter of how the technology is used and what people want to get out of it. Ultimately, there is no substitute for actually talking to someone one-on-one, and I don't think Facebook either attempts to or wants to serve that purpose. Because it allows you to perhaps reacquaint yourself with people you've lost touch with over the years, it can be used as a way to forge or increase bonds and friendships.

  • Comment number 80.

    In answer to Stevat's questions regarding a nations and the press' 'hankering' for celebrity culture and one-man-showmanship one would be forced to consider where the players stand. History shows that the greatest of great stand out solely as the individuals. Arguably the first global football celebrity was Pele. This draws comparison to Garrincha. The difference between the two was that Garrincha played football for the love of the game and the love of his country, never did he usurp the international media generated spot light and move to Europe or the USA in search for wealth and notoriety. Pele, on the other hand, gladly moved to New York Cosmos in 1975 and in turn became perhaps the most famous footballer ever to exist.

    Now who does every little footballer aspire to be in their development? Whose name is mentioned time after time in World Cup analysis? Pele stands head and shoulders above Garrincha in the minds of the youth. Despite Garrincha single-handedly winning the Chilean World Cup in 1962 after Pele's injury. Individualism is the name of the game for our next footballing greats. Everybody wants to score the winner, everybody wants to be revered. It follows then that although camaraderie is important, the desire to be the one and only dominates with overwhelming proportions.

  • Comment number 81.

    #41 - When I read this article the first thing I thought about was footage of Maradona leading the singing in the Argentina dressing room following the victory over England in 86. The whole squad seemed so together. Similarly I remember reading in another BBC blog about South Africa (I think) turning up for a recent international match and the whole squad singing their way off the bus. It sounded like a really inspirational alternative to the whole team rocking up wearing outsize cans and ridiculous 'gangsta' baseball caps and trying to look mean. Although in defence of iPods I'd always assumed that many of the players only put these in coming off the coach to drown out hostile waiting fans?

    #40 You describe the 2002 selecao as "the poorest team to ever win the world cup" then name Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho & Ronaldo - 5 players who, at their peak as they were in 02 would have graced pretty much any squad in history! Add another few who were very good in their role, like Gilberto who you also mention and the team can't have been that bad surely!

  • Comment number 82.

    80: without wanting to stray too far off-topic, I think your view of Garrincha isn't quite right - love of his country - I don't think he was ever the great patriot, probably completely oblivious to what it meant to be patriotic! As long as he could play football, enjoy his lady friends and drink cachaca then he was happy where he was. No desire to be wealthy - he left much of his wages from Botofogo to rot in his house. He just didn't have that drive that Pele still has, really.

    So I don't think he deliberately shunned the limelight, more had no concept of what it all meant and why he should ever want it in the first place.

  • Comment number 83.

    My brother is of the older generation of players and when travelling to away games for rugby matches the team has to take cars as a bus is to expensive. The older players drive and have banned the young players from listening to their iPods because the banter in a car is killed when iPods are allowed.

    Makes sense and seems to work.

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree that modern technology should be embraced as it has opened up doors to all comers. It's important to retain an air of individuality within a team dynamic, so long as the ethic remains that the team always comes first. You can definitely see that in Barcelona, they all have their individual style and bring something different to the table, yet they are all willing to sacrifice their own personal glory for the benefit of the team. That is definitely the way it should be. I think the problem we have in England (and it sounds very similar in Brazil) is that we seem to be driven by celebrity.

    The press want someone flamboyant and egotistical to build up and break on failure, rather than the measured and modest approach employed by Xavi, Messi and Iniesta. In a nutshell my problem doesn't lie with technology, but with the way we seem to hype players into believing they are different from the rest of us. It seems to me the generational shift has more to do with the exorbitant sums of money on offer - something which itself leads to egotistical individual's self-induced isolationism. It would be nice if players leaving buses could talk to some fans and interact more with the people they are no different from who just so happen to be paying their colossal wages.

  • Comment number 85.

    Dowie is bang on, and I don't think Dunga will be taking any messing around either.

    Wasn't it Tele Santana who banned women from the Brazil World Cup in 82 or 86? Think he also instructed them all not to be strangling kojack as well, keep the adrenalin flowing, full of beans they were.

    Not like this namby-pamby, WAG dating, sleazy texting, massive headphone wearing, big girl's ipod generation.

  • Comment number 86.

    That should have read 'Brazil World Cup CAMP' - the former would have been a sexist feat of mammoth proportions

  • Comment number 87.

    No don't agree with this.

    Some players are gregarious, others like some time to themselves to get into the zone.

    The time for a team to bond is during training and certainly there these things should be banned.

    The usual team bond during travel is to gamble at cards, so I actually think sitting listening to music is probably better !!

    The biggest threat to team morale during a world cup is the press. Newspapers have been around a long time and should be banned from the team hotel, bus etc. However the mobile phone is an issue I think because that does mean they get all the outside contact including probably some journalists. They should probably be restricted to a standard phone in the hotel where they can phone their family and agree up front they don't want to know what the press is saying !! Difficult to enforce and cutting you off completely can be an issue. Of course it is not just mobiles but the internet that will give issues in terms of access to media reporting.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 78 Phil CAFC

    Sadly, I think the Clausura will be over by the time you get to BA but if there is a chance to get tickets for a game then this link is your best bet (Its the official Boca Juniors site for tourist tickets: http://www.bocajuniors.com.ar/en-us/la-bombonera/entradas). I've specified Boca because (1) they're my team and (2) la Bombanera is not to be missed (atmosphere is crazy - the stadium literally shakes!!) - they also have a good hall of fame/museum/stadium tour. Apart from this route you can generally arrange to go to games with organised tour groups which are expensive by Argentinean standards but a bargain for the Premiership - they'll also take you to the ground by bus. Alternatively you can turn up at the ticket kiosks and chance your arm (it worked for some friends of mine) but you're likely to be told "solo socios" (only for members). If you are heading to Brazil/Chile/Peru it is much easier to get tickets there - I didn't try to see a game outside of BA in Argentina.

    Hope this is helpful, have a great time!

    Vamos Boca



  • Comment number 89.

    interesting piece worth reading. makes you wonder what top coaches at international level are doing to keep the companionship and the unity of the team alive. i bet it's easier at club level, when you have a group of players together over the whole course of a season. anti-social introvertism may still be present but since the players get to spend so much time together anyway, any effects of player disconnectedness should be minimal. but for int'l sides, it a pivotal subject. very few days for players to get into playing and communication rhythm with int'l teammates. with personal tech interfering on camaraderie surely will translate into less than efficient team performance on the pitch. hope that's not the case with dunga's selecao this summer!

  • Comment number 90.

    Tim, forget my question at #54. I just saw your Santos/Neymar/Ganso article on SI.

  • Comment number 91.

    I'd rather the players listen to their ipods than the card schools were players play and owe each other huge(for me anyway)sums of money thereby creating friction.

  • Comment number 92.

    Well i'd say i have to agree with Tim .. The old school mentality is the best when it comes to football .. These days players are more into their own lives and that has come with more money into the game .. As they say, money is the root of all evils .. Earlier , we used to have footballers playing their socks off just for 200-300pounds per week .. But now, when they play just one good season, they want more money and just money e.g Adebayor at Arsenal ...

    I completely agree with Tim on brazilian team playing the music together and singing and that creates a bond between the players .. Its just natural .. I've experienced myself .. And i believe in such activities that unites the players .. This is more applicable at the international level as players dont get more time with each other ...

  • Comment number 93.

    Hi Tim,

    I think you can probably guess where i'm going this time?!

    A number of times i've commented about altitude and my opinion that it skews results and gives the home team a massively unfair physiological advantage - Mexico's strength in Mexico City is a perfect example - a poor team, mostly made up of average players away from home, but look fantastic playing in the Azteca simply because it's at altitude.

    You of course have also argued your point, that you feel it's no different to playing in extreme temperatures and teams have to adapt etc.

    So why in your blog today did you feel the need to point out that Brasil's only defeat in the last 24 was at high altitude?! The fact that you deemed it necessary to mention it suggests that you believe this to be some sort of exceptional circumstance that may excuse that 1 defeat?

    If altitude doesn't matter and is no different to extreme weather conditions there's really no need to point this out to us is there?...........or do you agree with me now we're talking about Brasil? ;-)

  • Comment number 94.

  • Comment number 95.

    #87 - I think Tim's general point is that team spirit - collectivity - is a massive factor in determining a team's success, particularly at international level, where players don't necessarily come from clubs who employ the same footballing philosophy. A possible factor contributing to a lack of team spirit lies in certain forms of technology, which maybe lead to players becoming almost like hermits.

    You started off saying that you disagree with what Tim's written, but then you go on to cite that the press and the mobile phone are potentially disruptive influences in team harmony - and, correct me if I'm wrong, but they're both linked massively with technology, aren't they? I think perhaps you should be a little more precise in declaring what you agree/disagree with.

    And #93...well, I don't know how long you've been reading Mr. Vickery's articles, but I can think of many occasions where Tim's cited the effects of playing at altitude for teams who aren't adapted for it; the fact that some research has shown that playing in extreme heat could be more of a health risk, is somewhat of a separate issue. Furthermore, when you play at altitude, it affects the away team's gameplan, forcing them to play at a completely different tempo etc. The point Tim's making is that Dunga's style, system etc. were not the reason behind this one defeat, thus further highlighting the Dunga factor's importance in Brazil's rejuvenation.

  • Comment number 96.

    #7 "footballers are like sheep" - that's woolly thinking, Mikey!

  • Comment number 97.

    #79, Thatcher said "and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour" and "If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate."

    Her point was that "society" is an intellectual construct which can be used to conceal the fact that each individual makes their own decisions and has to take responsibility for them; but that doesn't mean living an egotistical, self-serving life, we aren't hermits, we are social beings, a "living tapestry," but we can't blame "society" as such, we are what makes society.

    Substitute "team" in this context, as with all human endeavour, we are individuals but can most often achieve most by acting together in unison. So for a World Cup team, it's about finding that balance, and not trying to make any Roy Keanes into what they are not.

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm 67 - what, I don't look it? Thanks, it's the pure life I lead! - and as I walk along the Brisbane river most days I'm relating to my surroundings while so many others are cocooned in their i-pod world. And, yes, I talk to people on buses. In some ways I'm a very separate person (going back to childhood trauma in 1944), but I know that interacting brings out the best in me, I've done voluntary work helping others since 1973. There seems to be in recent decades (in rich Western countries at least) an emphasis on personal gratification, on self-pampering. Well, that's no way to happiness, and it doesn't help team unity.

    When I ran teams (of economists), I sought to give each person as much responsibility as they could take, encouraged their development with courses, seminars, academic journals, ans used a lot of humour. I sang the Branch Song at the start of meetings, no one ever joined in (perhaps because the words were different each week). My staff were all different, just as all footballers are different, the job of the coach is to manage each individual to get the best team outcome. Not easy, and the approach - i-pods, no i-pods, i-pods at times - will depend on the particular players and the particular coach, you can't over-generalise. But I can remember how the sing-songs on our school rugby team's coach engendered positive team feeling and spirit.

    Re internet communication, I depended on that when seriously ill for several years (and here I am now), but it's no substitute for same space, face-to-face communication

    Finally, I can't relate to earbuds compared to six cubic feet bass reflex enclosures with 15-inch dual-concentric speakers! How do you get the room to shake?

  • Comment number 99.

    Oops, I've been waiting for Liverpool and Newcastle to kick-off (both live down under), didn't check the clock, must rush, howayy th' lads!

  • Comment number 100.

    93 - there is no doubt at all that extreme altitude gives the home side an advantage over unacclimatised opposition - i have never argued otherwise.

    But banning altitude means excluding clubs in these areas from international competition - that's such a drastic step and a denial of the universality of football - to my mind it would need a cast iron justification, much stronger than anything we've seen so far, for such a step to be taken.

 

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