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Home comforts strain ties with clubs

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Tim Vickery | 11:52 UK time, Monday, 4 January 2010

Jo's one-man introduction of a winter break into the English calendar by returning to South America without permission over the Christmas period is not a good sign at all. It sends out a bad message - that Everton's Brazilian striker has fallen off the tightrope.

It's arguable that we are seeing more such acts of inconsistency from players than ever before at the top level of the game, and I am convinced this is no coincidence. On the one hand, football's athletic development and the crowded fixture list mean that the physical and, probably, mental demands are greater than ever.

But on the other hand, so are the rewards. After two years with a major club, a player need never work again. He is surrounded by temptations. Doors open which he never even knew existed when he was a kid. Why bother with all those sacrifices?

Perhaps Ronaldinho is the most glaring recent example. Though there are signs of a recovery this season, he has been a shadow of himself for three years. The talent has all been there but not the acceleration that gave him space to use it. It points to off-the-field excesses and the fact that he, perhaps, is reaching an age at which his body needs more recovery time.

The difference, of course, is that Ronaldinho was on fire for three or four years. He has scaled the mountain. Jo is still gaining a foothold. He's a 22-year-old striker of undoubted promise. But leaving his club in the lurch would seem to indicate that he is happy with what he has achieved and is not prepared to pay the price needed to move up to the next level.

Jo in action with Everton
Jo is in his second loan spell with Everton from Manchester City

A decade ago, when Premier League clubs started importing South Americans, they were frequently guilty of buying the player and forgetting the human being. Outside training time, they would leave their expensive acquisition entirely to his own devices, in an alien culture, with no idea of how to solve day-to-day problems.

A few months back, I interviewed Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel on this very subject. He was proud to see himself as a pioneer. Aston Villa signed him and then left him on his own to sort out a problem with his wife's health. But during the course of his spell in the West Midlands, things became much more professional, with welfare officers appointed to help the players. English clubs are clearly doing something right in this regard. Wigan, for example, have managed to get excellent performances from players from Ecuador and Honduras, countries with little tradition of exporting to Europe.

I wonder, though - and this is speculation rather than criticism - if there is one area where more could still be done: that of forging an emotional link between the player and the club.

It is sometimes said that some Brazilians play for their European club for money and represent their national team for love. There is something in this. Players who may have disappointed English supporters with their attitude, such as Elano and Robinho, are quite happy to knuckle down and make a useful contribution when they pull on the yellow shirt.

But if they can do it for their country, then why not for their club? There are obstacles to be overcome here. When they play for Brazil, they have a very clear idea of who they are representing. But with their clubs, this is more complicated.

I read recently Sir Bobby Charlton's autobiography 'My Manchester United Years' and was struck by the strong sense he had, drilled into the team by Matt Busby, that United were representing the people of the world's first industrial city. This was part of the entire ethos of the club.

So much has changed. Previously, a city's identity was tied up with what it produced. This has weakened with the loss of so much manufacturing. In fact, I would argue that part of the explanation for the extraordinary popularity of football in the United Kingdom is that it offers people a chance, in a sanitised environment, to maintain contact with the collective values of the industrial age. But the factories have closed and the clubs have become global brands. United, for example, have more fans in Asia than in all the other continents combined. So the question of who the clubs represent is not so clear.

And, of course, the players have changed since Charlton's day. The amount they earn limits their contact with ordinary fans, and nowadays the players come from all over the world. The advance of technology means that, for example, a Brazilian can play for an English club but watch nothing but Brazilian TV and keep in constant contact with his mates back home. He can be in one place physically yet his mind be in another. As recently as 15 years ago, a player was almost obliged to integrate. Now he can exist in his own little Brazil.

This is what the clubs are up against - players who earn so much that motivation is not guaranteed and who are increasingly likely to feel no emotional connection to the institution they belong.

I recently saw Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz give a lecture to Brazilian coaches on the demands of working in different continents. He stressed the importance of a coach immersing himself in the history of his club and told the story of his time in charge of Sporting Lisbon when he took the squad to the club museum. They regarded it as a punishment, he said, but they had to go.

Rafael and Fabio da Silva
Rafael and Fabio da Silva attend a function with Manchester United boss manager Sir Alex Ferguson

This kind of initiative is increasingly important. Manchester United twins Fabio and Rafael da Silva were recently on Brazilian TV saying that Manchester is a terrible place for going out. Do they really not know anything of the city's giant contribution to global popular culture? The club should be telling them. They should know who and what they are representing.

Making players aware of the cultural context can be almost as important as work on the training ground. Jo should be so immersed in Everton culture that he'll be sick at the sight of another toffee. Because by jumping ship in search of some sunshine during the festive period, he has not just let down his manager, team-mates and the fans. He has let down everyone who has helped build the institution since 1878.

Comments on the piece in the space below. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

My question for you is regarding Brazil's full-back, Maicon. The man is a unique powerhouse with his blend of strength and speed, with adept dribbling and crossing. Will there be many on the left that can stop this guy from tearing through their team, as hardly anyone will be able to put up with his strength?
Will teams have to bring across the left centre-back for cautious cover, leaving a gap in the middle for likes of Luis Fabiano, Kaka etc. to burst through?
Chris Cleary

That's the idea. He's Brazil's first-choice right-back on merit, despite the claims of Daniel Alves. Maicon is the better defender - he's improved greatly in this respect and, as you say, he really is a force of nature bursting from deep.
Dunga changed the formation to free him up. When Ronaldinho was dropped, 4-2-3-1 became 4-3-2-1, with the introduction of a mixed right-sided midfielder (Elano, but could be Ramires and Daniel Alves can play there), one of whose duties is to give cover when Maicon rumbles forward. And keeping the pitch wide to create space through the middle is always one of the aims of Brazil's attacking full-backs.

Martin Palermo is still scoring bags of goals for Boca, despite his chequered record in Europe, and he also scored that crucial winner against Peru. Is there any chance of him being at the World Cup? I think he'd be a different dimension to anyone else at the tournament and could really work for Argentina, who have perhaps been lightweight at recent tournaments. A bit like a Heskey who scores goals.
James Eadon

I sincerely hope not! I am, though, an admirer of Palermo. I was in the stadium 11 years ago for that Copa America match when he missed three penalties, and that's the day he won me over. The fact that he was prepared to look ridiculous, that he was willing to accept the responsibility for taking them - that, for me, is why he's still scoring goals. He doesn't hide and he gets every last drop out of his talent.

Having said that, he's so lumbering these days that I simply can't see him making much of a contribution in the World Cup. Higuain is in front of him in the pecking order. I'm not a great Diego Milito fan, but his club record is good, and if there's space in the squad for another target man, personally I would prefer a recall for Crespo to Palermo.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Anyway, Tim makes good points on the South Americans lack of connection with their clubs and cultures. For a player born in poverty that, in many cases (considering how they are often leaving as teens), never saw a game of the likes of Everton or United live (since, these days, only Europa and Champions are on open tv, and they're still on mid-weeks afternoon), play on such a club can be not much different than playing on Mars FC or Venus United. Maybe the clubs just take for granted that their name will be respected by everyone like they were fans.

    Although, of course, plenty of these players weren't very professional when they played at their home clubs as well.

  • Comment number 2.

    I know your area is S. America but some of your comments could equally apply to home players. The notion of being loyal to just one club and immersing yourself in its traditions, history etc. is long gone.

  • Comment number 3.

    If you're looking for commitment from a South American player, look no further than Wilson Palacios for Spurs (and Wigan in the past). 100% in every game - top class...

  • Comment number 4.

    Footballing imports from South America didn't really start with the premiership, there were a few here before that most notably Ricardo Villa and Osvaldo Ardilles at Spurs, these players were well looked after and integrated brilliantly (Keith Burkinshaw even carried their bags when they arrived at the airport...can't see Ancelotti doing that).

    I think the problem stems from the fact that football nowadays is more about the financial bottom line than the glory of players were left to sort themselves out until recently. Players like Jo are bought over quite young and are probably do not have enough life experiance to make the transition smoothly, the culture shock must be huge for them and unless future imports bring family or are supported fully by the clubs as they acclimatise I can see this being the case in future

  • Comment number 5.

    Jo has clearly made a massive error of judgement in heading back home. I imagine that the decision seemed easier at the time as he was struggling to make the starting line up of a massively depleated and underperforming side. He really should have been knuckling down and trying to find some form, but he's beginning to look like another player who'll be heading home sooner rather than later.

    I do find it interesting that Moyes is rumoured to be looking at sending him back to City given our current injury predicament and particularly if there is anything in the rumour that City are paying all his wages!

    I've not been that sure on Jo since he arrived. He looks like he's got some skill, but is rarly in the right position and seems to lack composure in front of goal (which is strange given his record in Russia).

    Phil, you described him as a player of "undoubted promise", I didn't see anything of him prior to him arriving in the premier league and personally he's never quite cut it. Are you basing your assessment on his time at CSKA and Corinthians or do you see something I don't?

    Personally I expect him to either drift back to the brazilian leagues or potentially find a level in one of the weaker European leagues, if he knuckles down a bit(I was going to sugges a couple but after the stuffing we got by Benfica earlier in the season I wont tempt fate!!!)

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting points about club loyalty. Evra is one player who has openly talked about importance of the history of Manchester United, if not Manchester, and it shows every time he pulls on the shirt that he gives 100%. Cantona had a similar appreciation. Not so sure how important the nightlife is in the scheme of things but given the twins' tender age it maybe a little harsh to judge their comments about this as without their family it is difficult to gain a perspective on this. After all what 19 year old doesn't thrive on an active social life!

  • Comment number 7.

    Whilst a player's background and culture may help or hinder their chances of success in a new environment, it's more down to their strength of character as to how professionally they conduct themselves.

    There's too many examples of home-grown European-based players making fools of themselves and letting down their clubs to really try to link such behaviour with South Americans.

    Did "Once a blue always a blue" Rooney show greater respect to Everton then Jo?

  • Comment number 8.

    Points all very well made Tim. Personally I think the with the fortunes available to players and the transient nature of club ownership and management that the immersion of players in the history of culture of a club is long gone. South Americans by virtue of being the further away are probably a little more suceptible to treating a club in England or non mediteranean Europe like a job as opposed to a passion. Carlos Tevez is the epitomy of this in my opinion. On the pitch he does his job but off it not only in his statements about going back to Boca Juniors at the end of his contract (or the his ignorance at the feeling that'd follow his move from Utd to City) but the fact apparantly after 3 and half years in England that he still can't speak English speaks volumes. The only South Americans that have fully acimialetd into England and English culture have probably only been Juninho, Arca, Poyet and probably the Wigan contigent.

  • Comment number 9.

    It fascinates me when I hear of some foreign players complaning about various cities and the weather in England. They want to go home or miss this or that yet they are in the country for 9 months a year max, well paid and probably mix in social circles where lets be honest things aren't that bad! How many brazilians live and work (40+ hours!!) in the UK all year round for a lot less money. They may miss home and the weather put get on with it because they have a better standard of living here. Footballers get too much money and for some when they earn that money they loose ambition and focus.
    I think Jo heading home may be a blessing indisguise for Everton, they guy ain't that good and can't handle the premiership anyway

  • Comment number 10.

    I've not been to South America before, but do you think the Da Silva twins are refering to lack of nightclubs that cater for a more European feel rather than the stereotypical nightclub in England with pop music and people binge drinking?

    The weather must be a huge factor in all of this.

    Tim, would you maybe suggest that this is why Ronaldinho didn't make the move to Old Trafford in 2003? I always felt that Man United were in a good position to sign him both footballing-wise and financially but he chose Spain (not necessarily Barcelona as he was also touted to join Madrid).

  • Comment number 11.

    Regarding this weeks blog topic, I believe this is something that Rafa Benitez is concious of and is of the same opinion as Carlos Queiroz.

    My understanding is that when Benitez joined Liverpool as manager he subjected not only himself but his wife to all things Liverpool, to such an extent that, allegidly, his wife feels she belongs to the city.

    Fernando Torres has spoken when he first joined Liverpool and one of the first things the club did was bury him under the history of his new team and provide him with many dvds charting the teams of Shankley right through to the 80s to give him a sense of identity of what his new home was about.

  • Comment number 12.

    Valid points. Could 3rd party player ownership play a major factor in South American players not 'connecting' emotionally with the ethos of their new clubs? A significant minority of them seem to have very little say in where they're shipped out to. Players whose contracts are owned partly or wholly by business consortiums may not want to end-up in the depths of a Russian autumn - but their owners see that as the best return on their investments so off they go, treated as little more than commodoties.

  • Comment number 13.

    Great blog subject. The phrase " He can be in one place physically yet his mind be in another" is spot on. The reasons why Ossie Ardiles, Villa and the first modern South American imports exceled in England and Europe are down to acclimatisation. The willingness to accept and learn a new culture and surroundings. You can't truly be successfull on the pitch if you aren't sorted off it.
    The Tevez example is a bit of exception because that's how he plays.
    I believe the Brazilians are generally spoiled and unprepared for different situations.
    It's down to the traditions of societies too. Brazilians do better in Spain and Italy because these Latins countries also have the habit of protecting the individual.

    About the twins, I don't think two 18 year olds from Rio de Janeiro should be playing football in Manchester in the 1st place.

  • Comment number 14.

    great blog. i think a problem that must also be highlighted is that a lot of English players do not even immerse themselves in the traditions, which does not help the players from other countries coming in at all

  • Comment number 15.

    Speaking as a british national who has leaved abroad (Africa), i would not put all the blame on foreign players (esp young ones) who go back to their countries during festive periods as Jo did. These players are young and certainly will get homesick no matter how much money they are paid...this is the human feeling in all of us all that surpasses material things. I understand the fact that some fans may not recognise this and i see it as just ignorance as most have not been away from the country and their family ever b4 for a long period of time. Money is not everything in life and clubs can pay billions out but the player are humans and not machines, they have emotions just like the fans who are moaning. Imagin a young lad who grew up in this country and then is sent to work inthe desert of Africa or this fans think that the young person who may be their family member will not miss the holiday period in which they grew up to and want to take a risk and come home? Many of these fans may not appreciate what hese foreign playersare doing as 99% of professional british young players have not left the shores of this country to play their sport where the would be exposed to a social culture which is totally different from ours

  • Comment number 16.

    Tim, loyalty for foreign players is very complex. Sometimes players decline to join their national teams due to their clubs commitments. Or could also be the case of financial crises as most these players are from countries whose teams are characterised by allowances disputes and other problems?

  • Comment number 17.

    Some great points here.. To me this highlights British culture in general, people move from far afield to live in population centres where there's a breakdown in community spirit/communication etc. People never connect properly to their surroundings and the problem exacerbates.

    Its not just foreign players, how many british players play for british clubs properly understand the location they are representing.

    For me its all about amateur football where local players play for their local club, supported by tom, dick and harry from down the road.

  • Comment number 18.

    Decent blog Tim, although I think you're being too harsh on the clubs if anything. Players shouldn't need to be forced into loving their club side.

    "When they (Elano and Robinho) play for Brazil, they have a very clear idea of who they are representing. But with their clubs, this is more complicated."

    I don't feel its that complicated. If Elano and Robinho want to know who they are/were representing playing for Man City then take a look around on a matchday at the 45,000 Man City fans singing and shouting. They should want to turn up and play for them.

    The best example is Juninho. I very much doubt he was forced to go to the Middlesborough museum or on tour of the town when he arrived yet he loved the club and the fans. He loved playing for Brazil and Boro because he was a decent guy who was in touch with reality. Neither of these things could be said of Robinho or Jo.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 12 - Great point about 3rd party ownership. It's similar o English/British players on loan, how often do they go away to lower league sides and look average or disinterested when their abilities suggest they are capable of much more only to come back and look world beaters a level or two above? I'd imagine foreign players dispite the contracts only emotionally see themselves as 'on loan' in the sense they'll go to England/Europe make some money they go back to South America as soon as they've made enough. As they don't see their club/towns as their home and are never fully settled they'd find it hard to immerse themselves in the local culture. A lot of the more recent examples of South Americans that have settled have been those that have met a partner while over here.

    @ 13 the Tevez example was mostly to show how although unthikable a player could quite litterally physically be in one place but mentally in another. How a player can play football in a country for almost 4 years and not be able to speak the language only shows it's impossible to virtually seperate your professional footballing existence from your social and cultural experinces.

  • Comment number 20.

    The criticism of Tevez made by one of the contributors seems harsh. I would say that his approach to the game epitomises values that the English have cherished: fair play; no diving; not trying to get opponents sent off or booked; and a commitment to hard work on the pitch. I still remember the 2008 CL Barce v Man Utd semi-final, when Carlitos ran his socks off, harrying the Barce defenders so that they could never settle on the ball and consequently gave the ball away cheaply.
    He is also adored at West Ham - 85% of the fans voted for him as player of the year in 2006/07 - and he maintains an excellent relationship with Hammers followers. Such bonds between the supporters and the modern, itinerant, professional footballer rarely exist in today's game.

  • Comment number 21.

    My belief is that in this day and age footballers are given too much, too young.

    Back in the day when the 30 somethings such as Lampard, Ballack, Van Nistelrooys were trying to make the grade, they had to work hard to reap rewards. Whether this be from boot cleaning or picking equipment up on the training pitch, it kept them grounded. They had to work there way up the pay scale too unlike a lot of these young guns.

    The likes of Sturridge & Balotelli have been handed thousands of pounds a week on long term contracts strictly on potential ability alone. Of course there is no incentive to keep up the hard work.

  • Comment number 22.

    #13- Ironically speaking, the twins are actually from Petropolis, a city about 65 KM away from Rio, considerably smaller (around 300,000 people), with a different climate (is in a mountainous area, and while no Manchester, is colder than Rio), and, as I can tell from the numerous times I went there, with a pretty uninteresting night life, or at least uninteresting for the lifestyle they seemed to be expecting.

  • Comment number 23.

    If you’re planning to move to a new country for the foreseeable future it would be wise to perhaps learn the culture of the country and the local traditions and history maybe even a couple of visits. Not only is it ignorant but it is foolish not to do so. An employee of a Football Club is required to live in that country fulltime and should know with almost certainty if they’re going to be happy living in that country and playing for that team even if things aren’t going particularly well. Jo, Kleberson, Veron all had success elsewhere but haven’t cut it in the EPL, I’m sure there are various reasons both inside and outside of Football but I believe ultimately it is down to the Employer to offer as much support as possible to any new player wherever he is from. If a club doesn’t do enough to give the require support they’ve only themselves to blame for a poor return on their investment. Invest in the individual and hopefully they’ll repay your loyalty. Look at Shevchenko and Robinho, both signed out of the managers hands, the manager didn’t want them at the club and they failed. Big surprise there.

  • Comment number 24.

    In fairness, there's hardly any reason for Jo to feel he belongs. He was bought by City, barely got a game, then has been loaned out to a club he'd probably couldn't find on a map while his ex club spent hundreds of millions on new players. He's stuck in limbo - two successive seasons on loan must leave you wondering who you actually play for, especially when he was signed to "do a job" and add to numbers available rather than because Moyes is a particular fan of his.

    Here's a question for older football fans... was it ever the case that players were bought and then immediately frozen out, or is it because of larger squad sizes? Would the likes of Clough, Shankly, Busby etc have been able to ride out criticisms of their signings if they had to admit that the players they'd picked (and paid money for) weren't actually good enough?

  • Comment number 25.

    Perhaps another reason for the difference in commitment to country over club is because, in England, big clubs are now arguably higher profile than the national team - both domestically and abroad. Brazil on the other hand has an iconic national team that eclipses all the clubs.

    Besides, one can hardly expect young South American players to pick up the traditions of their host clubs. For starters, our football clubs are constantly evolving and the likes of Matt Busby for example wouldn't recognise Manchester United from the club he managed. Football is far more international and money driven than one could argue that some of these mercenaries have picked up the traditions of their host clubs just fine!

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent stuff again Tim, Been reading and listening to your work since starting Uni back in Manchester in 2004. incidentally Tim, who is your pick for best band to have come out of Manchester?

  • Comment number 27.

    The Beatles of course, the kids wont know any different.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Tim. Do you think this has anything to do with class and upbringing? I don't know much about Jo, what his background is or anything, but i can imagine it must be very difficult for someone to go from a poor background here in SA with very little education to a country like England, where there are much higher expectations.

    I know some footballers from over here who found it very difficult to adapt to Europe because of their lack of education in general. They were from very poor families, had never left SA before, and had to adapt to so many new things (food, weather, transport, people etc)

  • Comment number 29.

    awesome article as usual tim! for me this is the reason that barca were so damn good last year... i think pep guardiola really made his players understand what it meant to be catalan and what it meant to play for barcelona and u could really see it in the way they have played since he has come in...

  • Comment number 30.

    I think those two twins need to get themselves to Sankeys... won't be complaining about the nightlife in Manchester after that!

    And to post 26, the Stone Roses, no competition.

  • Comment number 31.

    In my view, football is a demonstration of ones personality and culture. These two values are intertwined. Firstly,in order to understand a footballer, one has to understand the individual framework of that very person and his cultural values. If a footballer is placed in an environment which do not cater to his personal framework and cultural values, it is almost impossible to expect that footballer to truly assimilate to his foreign conditions. And more so, those in their younger years.

    Unlike many, I do not blame any player who finds it hard to assimilate. It is the responsibility of the club to find a player better suited to their environment. If a club is adamant about investing their money, they should be accountable as to who the invest it in.

  • Comment number 32.

    @ 19 - Bronco3114 - Off the pitch, Tevez doesn't differ from Jo or Robinho. He surrounds himself on his little Argentinian net and as you said, can't speak English. He couldn't speak Portuguese during his time in Corinthians and his Spanish is messy too. Well, he's just too thick to be honest!

    Which leads me to @20 - Gallina - the criticism isn't harsh. The difference is that Tevez doesn't let the off the pitch situation affects him on the pitch. He doesn't run because the English appreciate that style or because he acknowledges what football means to fans. He runs tirelessly because that's how he plays. If he knew anything about English football history, he wouldn't have swapped Manchester shirts at a canter the way he did.

    @22 Mengo2008 - doesn't matter if they are from Petropolis, their comment reflects on home sickness. Petropolis is a lot closer to Rio than Manchester on any argument. Plus, when they were playing at Fluminense's academy, they weren't living in Petropolis.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ #22 surely thats why they left then?

  • Comment number 34.

    Strange as it may seem i don't think there are many cultural differences between Brasil & England. Both countries are mainly/originally Christian, Fanatical about Football (playing and supporting), Big lager drinkers, Big meat eaters. The main differnce is of course the weather which is a real negative in England, though good for Football surfaces. In terms of the settling of players into their local environment. Clubs make a significant investment in each player, and by not going a step further and investing in the support network they will be wasting there own money - perhaps this (Loan only) explains the Jo fiasco. It should also be noted that there are many Brasilins now doing well in the Premier League, Anderson, Denilson, Lucas, Eduardo, Alex, Rafeal & Fabio, Gomes, Geovanni to name just a few, and of course other S.Americans too. We should also remember that English players are not always angels.

  • Comment number 35.

    Excellent blog Tim, once again you discuss interesting and relevant points in the game today. Although in this case I think thees a trick missing...your example of Jo is not a good one, as he is only at Everton on loan. Jo is a Man City player, and I wouldnt expect (demand?) him to show 100% commitment to anyone except City. Fair enough he should produce the goods for the club he is playing for, but in terms of immersing in club culture, his colour should be Sky Blue.

    Nonetheless, good read Tim.

  • Comment number 36.

    #8 I would add Solano to your list. I am a Newcastle fan admittedly, but we have had some over the years who have struggled such as Fumaca, Acuna, Gavilan, Mirandinha, Bassedas, Cordone etc. Yet we have had some who seemed to integrate and became cult heroes of sorts for their passion and loyalty.

    The Chilean Robledo brothers paved the way in the 50s and were fantastically successful. Asprilla may have been blamed by the press for losing us the title, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Newcastle fan that doesn't love the man. Same can be said of Solano, he even said not that long ago that he feels as much Geordie as he does Peruvian - and the Kieron Dyer voicemail trumpet solo story is quality.

    Gutierrez is getting towards that sort of hero status, if you ever watch a game he plays in end on you can see just how fantastic and perpetual his movement is. Coloccini likewise suffered a slow start but has found his feet (albeit at a lower level) and has won people over. You regularly see Gutierrez with friends out in town after matches, not drinking but dancing away and enjoying himself - fair play to him for throwing himself into our culture, that said I did see him put a coat on, was going to say something but restrained myself.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Jo thing is stupid. I know he may have beem homesick, but there are ways to deal with.

    Not really on point, but the idea of complaining about foreign players not playing in the "english spirit" annoys me however.

    Firstly, this mystical english way of playing almost doesnt exist... Just look at examples of English players diving and play acting for example.

    You hear a lot about players from abroad not running around enough etc... In what universe is running around a lot in itself a good thing?

    Commentators have, for example, being going on about Robinho pulling out of tackles etc. Now, even not taking into account he is on the injury comeback, he was not bought for £30m (or whatever) to go diving into tackles against Stoke's Man-Giants....

    Right, rant over...

    Great blog again Tim!


  • Comment number 38.

    Also, regarding the same points being made about Robinho, I dont think he has not tried to integrate. At least in terms of the news reports I read at the time, he was taking buses to get to know the city and practice his English (a braver man than I, getting a bus in Manchester!). Assuming it was true, this doesnt scream about a guy not wanting to get to know the place he lives or 'live in a Brazilian net'.

    I think expectations for Robinho were set far too high, and this season he has been plagued with injury. Last season his goal scoring and assists were great, if not spectacular (and playing from midfield). He is clearly a player capable of great things though and I think we will see much more of him in the near future.

  • Comment number 39.

    El Timone, facinating read.

    Do you think that South American footballers just have a stinking bad attitude in general? We are all aware of the sheer immorality of the continent (little thief goes to jail, big thief becomes president and all that), with many clinging onto Catholicism as the last bastion moral conscience. Clearly they do produce the good boys like Kaka, but they do seem to produce a lot of mentally unstable characters. I look at Ronaldinho and Adriano. Two of the best in the world during the mid 00s - but both, and I'm serious here, have mental problems. I wouldn't be suprised to see at least one of them go the way of Garrincha. They've got the physical genes, but have they got the mental genes. A lot of Spanish/Portuguese-speaking Robin Fridays. Maybe that is far too simplistic, but when I look at things like 4-4-2's El loco eleven, I always think something isn't right in those boys heads.

  • Comment number 40.

    Stevat #36 - surely not wearing a coat (or even long sleeves) in Newcastle is the first step in immersing ones self in the local culture?
    He should have got that by now - he won't last !

  • Comment number 41.

    There are only three continents in my view producing world class players, south america, africa and europe, while most europeans and africans seem to adapt easily to the premiership the south americans seem to have a little more trouble, look at adebayor, drogba, diarra, essien only really juninho has made any real impact although anderson and valencia might be the next. But then you look at the flops we've imported from Europe, I don't think it's disproportionate whatsoever. Any critics of african or south american imports should look at the some of the quality they have brought and some of the dearth of europeans flapping around for a few games, spending a season on the bench and then being flogged off to and eastern european country hopeful of making it through 3 qualifying rounds to reach the CL Proper.

  • Comment number 42.

    re no 34 not many cultural differences between brasil and england!! What a laugh!! I live in Rio and I can tell you culturally here everything is different...the whole mentality. Beer and meat has nothing to do with it....its how people view the world and their life thats important. You also have to remember that Rio is very different from Sao Paolo etc so i think Paulistas will have found it easier to adjust to europe than Cariocas. SP has a more business and outward looking environment whereas Rio is very insular. Lets compare a middle calss lad from SP like Kaka who has been fine and compare him with Adriano from a Rio favela....need i say more. Adriano has just won the title here with flamengo and was the leagues top scorer yet he couldnt get out of bed in Milan.
    I do think the clubs when they sign Brasilian players should let them go home for christmas and new year and visit their families....they are not robots no matter how much money they make. I think the break and home comforts for a week would pay dividends for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 43.


    there needs to be at least a two week break in mid season in my opinion, i think it's a joke, all leagues should only have one cup and the europa league needs to go, 5 african nations cups in a decade... why oh why, money talks and nobody gets any leave, good luck to the PFA

  • Comment number 44.

    Excellent article Tim, I always enjoy your writing. This problem is not just with South American players but can happen with all foreigners. I'm a Rangers fan and we had good success with a Dutch coach and a few Dutch players. The fans embraced them and they us and there was a mini dutch revolution at Ibrox. But we have had Frenchman and Italians who have hated Glasgow and just sulked because of the weather and the food. I feel it is mostly down to personal attitude and how willing a player is to embrace a new culture. Look at the story on Mendieta and how he still lives over here. If a player is not happy in his surroundings then he won't have success. We had an Italian striker Marco Negri who started off banging in goals for fun but still looked miserable, he hated the weather etc and was homesick for Italy and soon his form dipped and he was off after a season. Clubs can do all sorts but its a players attitude.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well, there's a tendency here that suggests the argument should be towards the player's balance. Why?
    Someone wrote that he lived in an African country for sometime and it's very hard because the place is different, there's homesickness and etc.
    Someone else writes the clubs should let the Brazilians go back home during Xmas to get the best off them.
    That's insane! Nobody's forced to do anything, it's all employees/players choice. The club or employer gives you a more than handsome stack of money and say: deliver. And deliver you must!
    Jo could have stayed in Sao Paulo or #15 could have stayed in England. They've both prefered to go abroad in order to make more money. And when you choose to work abroad, you have to take into account all variables and the rules of the place. Ok, players come from poor background and can't always understand the differences, but as Vickery writes, the English clubs have noticed that and have improved personal relations over the last 10 years (The Angel example is pretty good). There you go, the teams are looking after the players like Spanish or Italian clubs do. That's enough. There should be a disclaimer on contracts: "It's cold here and you can't go home during Xmas. It's your choice". If they choose the money, then be worthy of it.
    It's insane to even propose a winter break for South Americans

  • Comment number 46.


    Jo is not representative of the dozens of Brazilian players plying their trade in Europe. When Brazilians are prepared to play in Moscow, weather is not a consideration. Most of them DO assimilate the local culture, but they can also rely on the largish local Brazilian communities in London and the big cities in the rest of Europe. Gilberto Silva when he was at Arsenal loved living in the Home Counties, and going down to his local was a highlight of his week. I believe that he is also seriously thinking of living in England when he retires.

  • Comment number 47.

    @34 i think the fact you say england has a big meat eating culture proves the point that you don't know much about lifestyles in south america.

    Africans do seem to be able to adapt more easily, but is that just due to the sheer quantity that come from there? We even had a young Geremi play here in paraguay for cerro porteño for a while.
    I also wonder how Landon Donovan will settle in at Everton. he doesn't seem to have produced in other european countries.

  • Comment number 48.

    Yet another good article Tim. I was wondering how intergrated people like Gary Lineker, Steve Archibald, Ian Rush, Laurie Cunningham, Steve McManaman were at their clubs. No they were not in latin america but latin europa. Maybe they were more intergrated with less tv channels and no internet to choose from? I have lived in Costa Rica, Turkey and now Norway (coming from the uk), and have seen US americans just want to speak english or watch their tv. Same with the english, but I try to learn the lingo and the culture. You feel much more attached. And making friends with the locals is best too, not hanging out with expats all the time. (My wife is norwegian.)Not easy if you`re a famous footy player,granted, but it must be tried. Uwe Rosler used to be the local manager here until recently. He married a norwegian and spoke ok norwegian, and was quite intergrated. Maybe Jo should marry a nice young scouse lass!

  • Comment number 49.

    As a Brit living in Sao Paulo I can confirm the comments of Guy Broadhurst re cultural differences between the UK and Brazil: chalk and cheese.

    Also, reading this blog reminded me of a recent article I read in which Tevez said his young daughter speaks better English than him. Gilberto Silva was quoted in the same article as giving the following advice to fellow Brazilian and other South American players coming to play in england: "First learn the language, then learn the football". The problem is, most clubs don't lookm after their foreign players in this way.

  • Comment number 50.

    I would love to become on of the liaison officers at a club and help new players integrate. Anyone know how to get one of these jobs?

  • Comment number 51.

    To be fair to Jo it has been reported locally that he had returned to Brazil due marital problems & while still unacceptable it does not seem to have been a 'clear off for a holiday' type jaunt.

    On the general point , I am sure that if finances worked the other way around , that some of the arrogant young English players would hardly bother to immerse themselves in the ethos of South American clubs if imported there on mega-salaries.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree that the more a player connects with his club the better he can perform and the more emotion he can show out on the pitch. Although it is ultimately up to the player to do his research and realize what he's representing, I think the clubs should do more to "advertise" to players about traditions, history, etc... Sure clubs like Manchester United do plenty of advertising which explains their great support abroad, but this is mainly aimed at fans and for merchandising, not so much towards potential players. South American players and Brazilians especially have a much different culture than that in England, and if you take away the financial benefits of representing an English club, there isn't a whole lot to offer these players. If they want to feel at home in terms of the climate and language, then Portugal, Spain, and Italy would seem the more obvious choices. If they want to represent a club with a playing style simular to Brazil, then a team like Barcelona or Real Madrid would best suit them. Plus it doesn't help that when a newly bought South American player in England comes across a few obstacles, fans and newspapers are quick to criticize, and claim that he's having trouble adapting to the league, which may or may not be true. Anyway the point is, if English clubs want South American players or any other foreign players for that matter, to better represent their club, then they are going to have to put some work in to better show players what the club is all about rather than pulling out "wads of money" to bring them in. After all, you really do get what you pay for; Would you rather have an overpaid machine, or a passionate human being playing for your club?

  • Comment number 53.

    I imagine poster no 39 is English and is being ironic.If he isnt let him think of the amazing success acheived by Paul Gascoigne,Jimmy Greaves,Ian Rush and the one or 2 others who have left for places nearer England than Rio is to Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires.i have just heard the World football blog where Tim shows similar prejudice in saying what is Maxi Rodriguez going back to Boca Juniors rather than join Liverpool.
    Perhaps Maxi wants to play in a competitive league where there are 10 competitors not the 1 or even 2 candidates in Spain or England.Maxi too I imagine wants to play in the Mundial

  • Comment number 54.

    The English are a bunch of cold fish compared with your average Brazilian and I wonder what sort of welcome these Brazilians get on a personal level from their English team mates (if there are any, that is). The English are also pretty slow at integrating. I once saw Beckham making a joke of Ronaldo´s poor English when they were at Real Madrid although Ronaldo is fluent in Spanish and Italian. How good is Beckham´s Spanish and Italian I wonder and how well has he integrated into Madrid, Milan and Los Angeles?
    Like Tim Vickery, I live in Brazil and know that Brazilians generally make poor emigrants as life in their own country is usually so much more pleasant and relaxed than other places. Look at Adriano who has given up millions to return to the favela (shanty town) he was brought up in Rio. Adriano is not the only player to have come home and become a hero. Ronaldo, Fred and Wagner Love are now back.
    Brazilians abroad are always longing for home. They have a word for it – “saudades” - which along with the word for heart – “coração” - are the most common words which appear in Brazilian songs.

  • Comment number 55.

    Interesting view you take here Tim. I can empathise with what you say and also to some extent with the players as another expat.

    The difference between footballers and the rest of us is that they are more mobile than ever before, and whilst the internet and telecommunications wizardry helps them stay in touch with "home" wherever that may be, the fact is that for a lot of overseas players, they see their current club almost like a bus stop. Stay for a season or so and then move to another part of Europe or even the world. Spain, England, Turkey in almost as many seasons. They don't intend to stay, so that is why they don't feel the need to integrate. The players who settle tend to be the top players at the top clubs, Chelsea. Man Utd Arsenal etc. As you correctly point out Jo is on the up. As a kid from what may well be a deprived background it's understandable if he thinks that he's done enough. He's 22 and a long way from home.

    I remember a few years ago when Newcastle signed Marcelinho (arguably one of the most wasteful overseas signings anywhere!), reading about him appearing in one of the small towns outside Newcastle looking for local junior school for his child. The paper commented at the time that if a manufacturing company had spent 4.5m on a piece of equipment, that it would have been treated with more care than Marcelinho was. He could barely explain what he wanted to a local and had been completely left to his own devices.

  • Comment number 56.

    This article is my thougthts in writing. You are totally right Tim, many South Americans have very little loyalty to their club and you can tell they do not have a clue about the clubs history and probably don't care either. For example i doubt Anderson of Manchester United has watched their famous 1998 Champions League victory on youtube. This is a trend that also seems to be followed by other foreign players in the Premier League who, when the right amount is offered, will skip away to another club despite the fact they are getting regular football. Robinho is an example of this. He supposely pledges the support to Man City when hes asked by a Manchurian if he will leave in January, but come the transfer season he could be out to a warmer, more respected city than Manchester. If one is playing for a team, then this team must come from a city, and the fans must also come from this city. The player celebrates to the fans with the badge of that club on, but he doesn't give two ****s about the city or the culture. This is what separates English players (on average) from Foreign ones; the English player is not as glamorous as the foreign one, but at least he'll stay with the club for more than 5 years. However i do believe there is one club that is different to all this and thats Barcelona. While stars c ome and go at Real Madrid, the home grown, connected Barcelona team stay together. The atmosphere in the Nou Camp may also play a part in this, as 100,000 fans all in one stadium can have a big impact on a player, it can force him to peform and therefore love the club hes at. When Guadiola ejected Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto'o from the club, they couldn't bear it, they had to be forced to leave because they adored the city too much. This never happens at Man U or Chelsea. If there arn't enough home-grown players at the club then it will eventually fall apart, as we could see at Liverpool if they don't make it into the Champions League

  • Comment number 57.

    #3 - Wilson Palacios is from Honduras, a country in Central America. Tim must get a little bored of people naming players outside of South America as part of it (there were suggestions of Mexicans for the team of the 2000's recently).

  • Comment number 58.

    53 accuses me of prejudice because I think maxi rodriguez should stay in europe rather than move back to argentina to join boca.

    An opinion, even if it differs from your own, is not necessarily prejudice.

    Prejudice is to pre-judge - ie judge without knowledge.

    I've spent long enough in this part of the world and seen enough games to have a right to an opinion.

    I would love it to be otherwise, but i think the current standard of the argentine first division is appalling. That's why so many clubs are in the hunt for the title - that and the fact that two short championships are played per year. It is a levelling down of standards. when there is true quality, the big clubs are able to break away - ie the fan base of man united or barcelona or real madrid is reflected out on the pitch with the calibre of players. But if Banfield can overcome boca, river and everyone else with their first title in over 100 years, and if their striker santiago silva can tip the balance - sorry, but this is not an indicator of quality.

    The argument that the more teams who can win the title the better is one that puts excitement ahead of quality.

  • Comment number 59.

    Tim, I think the issue with Jo is more to do with the fact that he's in limbo as a club player, rather than any failure to integrate into life as a Premiership player. Here's a young, promising player, with a big price tag that didn't cut it at City. Now that City can buy anyone, his opportunities at the club that owns his contract are nil. He's plying his trade at another club that cannot afford either his full wages or the lofty fee that he'll command for a permanent deal. Add to that the limited opportunities he's being given now that the Yak's fit and Saha is the preferred partner and a picture emerges. Basically he needs a move out of both City and Everton, he knows it and his advisors too.
    From a manager's perspective, Moyes did everything right. Would I send him back to City...hell yes! Play James Vaughan. I'd rather have the passion and commitment that a kid who's been devastated with injuries brings to this team, than the sporadic nondescript performances from Jo.

  • Comment number 60.

    i built this article around south americans and club loyalty because that's my beat - and brazilians and winter breaks are often a headache for european clubs.

    But it obviously applies generally. When British players moved abroad, many of them looked like little boys lost. Some 25 years ago, Hugh McIlvanney, to my mind the greatest sports writer who ever drew breath, wrote the following;

    "The footballer who leaves Britain to swell his earnings in a foreign league is traditionally more tourist than emigrant, a man so reluctant to immerse himself in the ways of the adopted country that he might be expected to take the field with a return ticket tucked into his sock."

  • Comment number 61.

    And it doesn't only apply to imports from other countries - problens of adaptation can apply within a country, and even local boys can be reluctant to identify themselves with the collective.

    A few years back I saw Jurgen Klinsmann give a lecture to Brazilian oaches on the fifth dimension - clubs, he said, were only concerened with developing their players in 4 ways - technical, tactical, physical and mental.

    Human development was not included. He urged Brazilian coaches and clubs to help their players learn enlish, since their ambition was invariably to move to europe, and also to help develop their computer skills.

    I also think that it's the clubs' responsibility to foster the link between the player and the institution, to make him aware of what he is representing - wherever he's from.

  • Comment number 62.

    Lets face it, England can be a cold and unwelcoming place and the food is terrible!

  • Comment number 63.

    I was recently watching Jo play in a friendly in Salvador organised by Ronaldinho, and whilst watching the game I was saying to my wife that it was strange that he was here in Brasil during the busy festive period. Anyway, a good friend of mine was spending some time with Jo here in Rio and he was very clear that he was expecting to return to Russia or Ukraine pretty soon!

  • Comment number 64.

    62 - i don't think there are too many better places to eat than england. the lack of a decent local tradition means that it's so open to others - where else would curry be the national dish?

    Strangely enough, this is an area where Brazilians can struggle. Outside the North East, their taste can be very bland. I once saw Robinho on Brazilian TV being offered a lasanha - he was hoping that it wasn't spicy.

    When they were in south korea for the 2002 world cup there was one line in english that the brazil squad could all say - "no hot sauce, please."

  • Comment number 65.

    i took my two stepdaughters to a curry house once - they had the mildest thing on the menu, and cried bceause it was too hot for them!

  • Comment number 66.

    Having been to Manchester as a foreigner I can actually understand what the twins might have meant and it does not necessarily contradict the fact that Manchester undoubtedly is a cultural highlight. I couldn't help noticing lots of aggression from drunk people, who attack others without any reason. I saw lots of guys trying to pick fights at random. Throwing stuff at people passing by. Have seen lots of this stuff there and perhaps that is what they mean with "terrible nightlife". A good club is fun only if you do not get clubbered on your way home - poor pun intended.

  • Comment number 67.

    As always, I find your reports on South American football very insightful. The point you made about forging an emotional link between the player and the club is one that I fully support. This is something I admire about Mr Wenger and the way he runs my beloved Arsenal. All the foreign imports are made to feel part of the family right from the word go. It's no surprise that most of his former players still hold him as well as the club in high regard.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would not deny anyone their opinion especially yourself Tim who has written so many informative articles.However the facts suggest your opinion of the Argentina primera are at best wide of the mark.Estudiantes sixth in the Clausura and seventh in the Apertura were able to win the Copa Libertadores and get within 1 minute of depriveing the greatest Barcas team in its history of the World club cup.Could I suggest that the teams who finished 6th or seventh in England,Spain or Brasil would never have acheived this.As you say Brasilian clubs are spending a lot of money right now with some having an obsession with winning the Libertadores.Lets see if they are going to dominate as they always threaten to but rarely actually do against the small mediocre Argentine clubs

    I am far from denying your right to an opinion Tim your columns are often excellent.But i beleive you are not correct about the Brasileiro being superior to la primera in Argentina.Estudiantes finsihed sixth in the Clausura seventh in the apertura but were able to win the Copa Libertadores and were within 1 minute of depriveing the great Barcelona of the World club title.No team that finished 6th or 7th in Spain.England,or Brasil i suggest could have acheived that which hardly suggests thatb the league is so terrible as you suggest

  • Comment number 69.

    As usual an excellent blog.

    I wonder if a contrast could be drawn between the South American players who fail to live up to their potential at club level but show it internationally, and the home grown players who look awesome for their clubs but fail to perform for England (Gerrard for example)?

    Perhaps in a lot of cases a player particularly loves playing in one side because they can have a true emotional connection but become quickly disillusioned when they cannot do the same in another for whatever reason.

  • Comment number 70.

    INteresting wy of looking at it and hadnt thought of it that way myself.

    There is definetly a case for it, am I right in thinking Jo came from Eastern Europe or Russia first, so in his case I can only think Liverpool or manchester must be an improvement

    I think the SOuth American players face two choices, stay in their comfort zone and ..... becomfortable in south america earining a decent livng and still getting recongition but just not earning enough to support a small country and play in the champions league.

    The biggest problem with this country is the weather and lack of the beach life. There is enough diversity everywhere for people to be content if they want to be but I think the player has to want it and embrace the way of life just as much as the club need to make the effort.

    From what I hear nowadays, and having to take some Russians round stamford bridge (much to my disgust) on a tour the players have everything done about it and as one of the Chelsea staff put it they dont need to think about anything but football, everything is taken care of, and I mean everything.

    I think the biggest thing for some people is their roots and familiarity, some people just like home and never settle, we see some of the best players who playing for their home club or in a country and take him out of that comfort zone and he does look lost, whilst you have others who dont and adapt. Carlos Tevez is an example, satyed in England, is thriving and seems to enjoy it hear (Im presuming) or he wouldnt of played for three different clubs, there will be things he doesnt like but has probably found other things to offset it.

  • Comment number 71.

    Great blog Tim, some very intersting points.
    @ #34 'Strange as it may seem i don't think there are many cultural differences between Brasil & England.'
    I wonder if you have ever been to Brazil? Having recently returned from Brazil myself, I find it quite ignorant that you say that there aren't many cultural differences between our country and theirs. The similarities that you state are some that we share with many other countries. I think perhaps Brazilians might find it an insult that you could say that our culture is similar to theirs, they pride themselves on their facinatingly diverse culture. Brazil is one of my favourite places in the world and is unlike any place I have ever visited.
    On another note, as a fellow 19 year old who recently spent 6 months travelling around South America and not knowing anyone over their prior to leaving, I can totally understand the Da Silva twins comments about being homesick and missing the nightlife in Brazil. The music in the clubs and the general social scene is very different over there. But, they are being paid a lot of money to be here and to play football at the highest level in the best league in the world, and so they, and any other South American footballers that haven't already, should make an effort to integrate and immerse themselves in English culture, for the sake of the game.

  • Comment number 72.

    Great article Tim. Im sure you being based in Rio de Janeiro you know the word, 'Saudade'. I'm sure Brazilians suffer from this. For those of you who dont know the meaning of the word its a Brazilian word basically meaning, 'missing some thing or some where you love and desiring to go back to it.' Its a word many Brazilians use and most tourists learn when going to Brazil. Brazil and England are two totally different cultures. When I stayed in Brazil for over 3 months, I was reminded I would have 'Saudade' when I return home and I have. I cant wait to get back to Rio de Janeiro! I love the city! and I can see the temptations and comforts that players like Adriano and JO experience when wanting to go back to Brazil. Its a unique culture and an amazing place to go. Players like Adriano, Fred and Edu are opting to choose there home country and culture, rather than a bigger wage, and its understandable and good for the Brazilian league.
    Tim, do you think there will be more Brazilians considering staying in Brazil to play in the increasingly improving Brazilian Serie A league? Or looking to return to Brazil earlier on in there careers. Or is the dream of the greatness of European football to much for Brazilian and South Americans?

  • Comment number 73.


    100,000 barcelona fans filling the stadium... don't make me laugh, despite their huge stadium man utd still had the highest average attendance in europe and in general german and english clubs have higher attendances, barca managed to fill their stadium by only 70% on average during a season while man utd achieve almost 99% with a 75,000, not much difference but barcelona is at least a quater empty on average

  • Comment number 74.

    All this rubbish about terrible food and culture etc is absolute rubbish. Britain has some of the best places to eat in the world, west end has the highest concentration of theatres in the world, the country is saturated by the love for football, we're a nation of sports lovers, to suggest the nightlife in manchester is poor is hilarious and would those same players feel safer in a favela bar... England is one of the most multicultural countries in europe. Yes the weather is rubbish, get over it, perhaps they first need to be taught the english language but more importantly they should then be taught the english sense of humour.

  • Comment number 75.

    72 - with the brazilian currency strong and the clubs getting organised in terms of marketing, i can see more coming back. but the idea of going is fixed and will remain that way for a while. not only are there financial advantages, there is also the need to prove themselves.

    brian glanville once wrote that if you live abroad you usually go through 3 stages - enchantment, disillusionment, modus vivendi.

    with rio you're still on stage 1!

    my girlfriend, from rio, has been over to london 3 times and is stuck on stage 1 there. why? rio for here has meant limitations, obstacles, frustrations - getting up at 4.30 for a horrible journey to work, unbelievably low salaries, constant fear of mugging, people she loves being shot dead in front of her - no quality of life.

    it's what she says all the time in england - here there is quality of life. most brazilian footballers come from similar backgrounds to her - adriano's dad, for example, died prematurely as a result of having a bullet lodged in his brain. the tourist experience is one thing, real life for the masses is quite another.

    there was an incredible example of class prejudice a couple of days ago. the tv news had a montage of working people wishing everyone a happy new year. a couple were dustmen. thinking his mike was off, one of brazil's senior tv journalists went into overdrive. "what ----," he said. "new year's wishes from a pair of dustman - the lowest on the scale of work."

    he apologised afterwards. personally, i think he should be made to eat some of the rubbish he was spewing out.

  • Comment number 76.

    i think you're underestimating just how shit England is. I'm not trying to insult you, even though i know i am...but that is not the end goal. you're right that jo should be more professional, but it must be hard to be in england all the time, especially when you're from brazil. the weather is absolutely far the worst i've experienced. and there is a kind of dourness that seems to pervade the country. this isn't true for london, and obviously there are nice little spots everwhere..but the overwhelming impression a visitor gets is not that great. im sorry to say it, but its true.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hey Tim

    It would be great if you could write about my Fluzao in your next article in WorldSoccer magazine...
    I think that flu really deserves it .. and I'm tired of reading about Flamengo all the time. :D

  • Comment number 78.

    Yeah, I very much agree Tim. How about you yourself on the other end of the stick. I think your background is being English going to Brazil (correct me if im wrong). You must miss home comforts of England yourself? Even if your now living in an amazing city like Rio de Janeiro. Im guessing you must be on stage 3 now in accordance to what Brian Glanville once wrote right? I stayed in Rio for over 3 months myself and saw the great side of Rio and the dark side of also, its quite an experience as im sure you know very well yourself. Back in Rio May though. Saudade!

    RICARDO ESTEVES, I very much agree, its time something should be wrote about Fluzao, an amazing club! Im an English Carioca Tricolor! unfortunatly my brazilian girl is Paulista Tricolor (Sao Paulo).

    WestCoastUTD, for Brazilians its definatly different in England for them, like Tim pointed out in his previous post with what Brian Glanville once wrote, im sure many Brazilians experience it. However, the pay that English pay the Brazilians is so so much better than what Brazilian clubs pay there players. Its out of respect to respect there English clubs. Football career is not forever, over 10 years if your lucky

  • Comment number 79.

    Great article Tim, it's a shame that maybe this is the main reason we don't see as many of the best South American players applying their trait in English football. The English tradition of playing through Christmas and the horrid weather conditions players are told exist in England means that many of the top players choose to accept offers from Spain or Italy where not only are those reasons a non-issue but also the culture difference is not as extreme in those countries. Take for example the Brazil and Argentina national teams, in recent times I can think of only 4 players that play in England who are in their respective national squads: Mascherano, Tevez, Lucas, and Robinho. With Robinho having been guilty of some of the same things Jo has done and with Mascherano and Robinho both looking for transfers to Spain this winter it is sad to say no matter how much emphasis is put into the human development of players in England it will always be an easier (safer) move for the top South American player to move onto other football leagues before those in England.

    On a different subject all together now, I follow the Mexican top division somewhat and was wondering how you rate Humberto Suazo and Salvador Cabanas? They're very similar strikers stylistically and both are looking for a move out of Mexico this winter. I've seen them in Mexico and through South American qualifying and was hoping to know what you think of them. Thanks and keep up the good work, saludos de Mexico.

  • Comment number 80.

    Great blog Tim. I was particularly interested in the subject matter as it’s something that has concerned me for some time.

    It seems to me that Brazilians who are exported to Europe at an early age are prone to huge lapses of judgement concerning their career prospects and indeed reputations. Ronaldinho’s case is one that bothered me ever since the rumours of his departure from Barcelona. By the end of 2006 he had enormous critical acclaim and had won every competition he had ever competed in at least once, so why exert himself physically and mentally? Why not spend the vast sums of money he had earned as the best player and one of the most marketable in world football? But surely in his late 20s he should still be a major force with the talent at his disposal?

    South Americans aren’t the only ones prone to such indiscipline (Amr Zaki at Wigan), but this is a worrying trend and one that has been and certainly will be affecting up and coming players as well as established players (Adriano and Ronaldinho).

    I don’t think it’s too much to do with integration as it is to do with comfort and discipline. Staying in one’s home country not only keeps them in their comfort zone but plants their feet firmly on the ground.

    For example, a few years ago Luis Fabiano was known as Brazilian football’s ‘bad boy’, involved in numerous brawls and earning himself frequent red cards but had a great goal scoring record at Sao Paulo. At the age of 24 he made the move to Porto, then Sevilla where he's scored a goal every two games and led Brazil's attack to a rousing Confed Cup win. The talent was always there, but I feel Fabiano needed time to acclimatise to the discipline that professional football demands, a luxury not always afforded to young starlets from the continent. Perhaps part of the blame lies with short sighted, money grabbing agents who prefer to make a quick buck than risk having their player stagnate and a move never materialise.

    Just a quick question about Brazil's potential line up for SA 2010. I'm assuming the team fielded in the confed cup are essentially the finished article, but I know the left back position is up for grabs so who do you believe could fill it? What's the situation with Juventus' Amauri aswell? Surely we should just cap him once to thwart his Italian naturalisation?


  • Comment number 81.

    Hi Tim,

    Long time reader, first time poster. The more I read your articles, the more I think that this is a worthwhile question:

    What do you think of Walter Benjamin?

    I have been very impressed with the quality of this blog page recently. Two weeks ago someone logged in as 'Phil' to attack and expose the sycophancy of some posters, and then last week you quoted Mao's many flowers.

    It is my theory that you, and not Mr McNulty, are 'Phil'! As the Mao of the BBC Sport webpages, I guess you felt like doing some weeding to stop the less interesting comments blooming.

    Good job! And no, whatever you say will not dissuade me from my conspiracy theory.

  • Comment number 82.

    The blog is well thoughtout and thorough. What you talk about affects the wider population and is known in the study of industrial relations as the "Instrumental Attitude".

    This is where one just turns up for work to get the money and then uses the money as an instrument to pursue his real interests. So the challenge is to make the environment coducive. At Aresenal AW chooses to work with French players with who he perhaps has a few things in common. Ditto at Liverpool RB has a mini Spanish Armanda.

    So just like AW nutured a 'failed' french player (TH) from Juve it would require perhaps Moyes to seek out a brazillian 'advisor' on how best to get the most out of Jo!

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    I have been in the Middle East for the last 3 years in 2 different counties. I can tell you first hand that settling in is not easy, irrespective of income, when you are suddenly parachuted into a place with a different culture, language, food, weather etc. I miss beer, bacon butties and sane driving but there are many good things. A young lad from Brazil will miss different things. Having said that, it doesn't justify just going AWOL for 2 weeks, so Jo deserves what he gets IMO. If he should have learned 1 thing in his time with Everton, it would be that you don't mess with David Moyes. Jo will no doubt soon be acclimatising to yet another country and culture, as City clearly aren't going to waste more time on him once he has been booted back up the M62.

  • Comment number 85.

    Moving to a foreign country is not easy. (I know, I left the UK ten years ago).

    Some people adapt. Some do not.

    If you cling to your own culture, it is almost impossible to adapt.

    True, you can - and have to be - proud of your own culture. But you also have to learn about your new country.

    In the end, then, it is a personal choice. And I suspect clubs can do little to change that.

  • Comment number 86.

    Inconsistency? Not so long ago, no-one would rush home at teh end of December as they'd miss the Christmas Party and playing half-cut on Boxing Day! The real clash here, Tim, is not between Continents, but between loyalty and money. Matt Busby fostered an emtional tie with his players because he was paying them peanuts. Today a player, like Tevez Inc. is little more than an asset to be bought, increase productivity and sold at a profit. They know it, the managers know it - no matter how often they kiss the badge in front of the fansthat's professional football for you - if you don't like it, give up your Sky subscription and get down the park on a Sunday morning.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think the lack of support for foreign players in an unfamiliar setting is part of a wider problem with the commoditisation of footballers. Fans are within their rights to get angry that players aren't motivated just by the wages they are paid (from match attendance etc) to be committed to a club, but the truth is no footballer's heart will be won by who pays them.
    It seems few players grow up enough to handle the experience of moving into a new culture and managing the complex process of integration themselves: English players struggle to handle growing up and carrying out their duties as an employee at an English club, so throwing the culture shock of coming from abroad into the mix only makes it worse.
    As reluctant as I am to feel sorry for pampered footballers, clubs need to do more to make sure young players grow up to be good people, not just good footballers. I remember a story about Bobby Robson's time as England manager. He insisted on taking players on tours of galleries and museums when they were away. Robson wanted his players to develop as human beings. Rather than head to their rooms, listen to iPods or gamble (as other England regimes have done), he made sure they got grew, in the right way, as part of a team.
    That's why Bobby Robson is remembered fondly not just as a successful manager, but as a good human being. He cared about the young men that were in his responsibility.

  • Comment number 88.

    re. Martin Palermo. Apologies if I've missed you addressing this in previous blogs, and mindful that I was feeding my infant daughter in the middle of the night when it happened and thus a little distracted, but with Palermo goal-side of the Peruvian keeper, why wasn't his critical goal offside?

  • Comment number 89.

    re comment 5 I really hope this is not the case ie that Man City are still playing Jo's wages as we can hardly be justified in questioning and complaining about a players committment when the club they play for is not even prepared to pay their wages.

  • Comment number 90.

    Tim answer to your response and the three stages...I have lived and worked in Brasil now for a little under three years and I can quite agree with you and see exactly what you are getting at.
    Rio is a beautiful place if your a tourist or at least rich, otherwise it is dangerous ,unforgiving and unless you learn the fundemental rules quickly, you will not survive.
    Most footballers come from the poorer ends of the chain, and though in England the poorer end still has access to the system, in Brasil, there is no system. To be thrown into the English way of life is as difficult for the young players as it would be if you uprooted someone from the poorer end of one of Englands big cities and dumpted them in Rio or Sao Paulo. It takes a long time to become adjusted to the differences.The weather is a big difference but also the social life, the food ( I doubt that Jo can get feijao ( beans) and farofa in either Manchester or Liverpool).After a while you do miss the food of home - I still hanker for Marmite!!
    Money is also a problem ..give someone who has had to fight for every cent a huge amount of money ( an absolute fortune by Brasillian standards) and he is going to change and think he can come and go as he pleases. You know how unreliable some Brasillians can be, it is not because they are truly unreliable, it is just the culture of why do anything today when you can do it next week.
    Brasillians are the most wonderful helpful people on the planet , but they can also be the most is part of their attraction.
    So do not blame the guy for going home for Christmas, I can identify with him, it is the only time of year when I truly miss England, so the reverse must also be true - who wants New year in wet cold Liverpool when in 10 hours you can have sun, warm seas, parties and be with your family..
    He just did what he rest of us would do if we could.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ #13 You appear to have forgotten:

    Alberto Tarantini

    Known chiefly for his haircut and temper, Alberto Tarantini was by far the least successful of England's 1970's Argentinian imports. Skilful on the ball but with no positional sense or discipline, his year at Birmingham City was fiercely unhappy - particularly given his pedigree as a World Cup winner. Whereas Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa made a positive mark at Spurs, Tarantini came and went in 23 games, with little or no footballing consequence. His career in England anded in 1987 after he waded into a home crowd for a punch up - a little publicised precursor to Eric Cantona's efforts at Selhurst Park 17 years later. At £295,000 from Boca Juniors, he was one of the first great foreign flops.

    I was going to add a few words myself, but I think this say's it all.

  • Comment number 92.

    With regards to Jo, I really am quite astonished he has failed so badly in England seeing as he was so dominant for CSKA, especially when you consider the far more harsher city and climate he was playing in. Where I think the failure stems from is the player himself and the set-up he is around. At CSKA he had the cradling bossoms of Wagner Love and Daniel Carvalho to hang around with. True, they may have exercised a certain level of separation between themselves and the rest of the Russian players (as noted so often in the Russian media) but Gazzaev was of the mind that if you buy one Brazilian he will be far more productive if he has at least some-one else to share the highs and lows both on and off the pitch.

    Upon signing for City, Eriksson had already signed Elano and the club were in the process of signing another Brazilian in Robinho. In comes Mark Hughes who precedes to discard Elano after one season and then instigates the classical British manager policy of molding a 'team' whereby the Brazilian players are actively discouraged from going off and doing their own little thing and the players should already understand the ethos of the club they are representing. So at the start of the current season, off shoots Elano to Turkey unhappy with Mark Hughes, Robinho spits his dummy out over a move to Barcelona and Jo is shipped off to Everton, a club with no Brazilians and Portuguese speaking players.

    Whilst his actions were totally unprofessional, they are to a certain extent understandable. I just think he has been completely mismanaged in England. I think this is the case for Brazilians generally. Unless they have no connection to their home they are gonna get fed up quick and want to leave. Here at Kawasaki we have a fantastic Brazilian striker called Juninho is who is a like a goalscoring God to us fans. However we have another Brazilian called Vitor Junior who is not in the same league as him. Admitedly we have Renatinho on loan as well but its often said the only reason we have the other two is to keep Juninho happy so he keeps scoring goals. Amusing as that may sound, I actually think there is a kernel of truth in there somewhere.

  • Comment number 93.

    ref post #91

    To clarify, the main portion of the post is a quote from - David Hills The Observer, Sunday 6 August 2000. Aplogies it should have been in quote marks.

  • Comment number 94.

    If you're receiving a wage as an employee there are standards that need to be met. Jo didn't meet them because he's immature and unprofessional and has, quite frankly, given the people he represents a bad name in doing so. There are stories from all sorts of people around the globe going to countries for the sake of better prospects in far worse living conditions than Jo and they're some of the hardest working, committed people in the country. Sure they'd like to return to the families they send money back to but if it's not the right time you have to live with it.

  • Comment number 95.

    Tim I always enjoy you blogs but I believe sincerely that your position on this one is just wrong.
    As a South American PhD student and having lived in the North West and currently in London I can tell is not easy at all to get use to the life in England. Yes, is safer and richer, I dont argue with that, but I can tell that for a lot of people, including myself, my wife and a number of expats, that sometimes cannot compensate family and friend. As you may from living in Brazil community and friendship values are very strong in South America, in a totally different way to England. My wife, and myself find the weather just horrendous, and is definetly a deal breaker for some, believe it or not. For instance, being a quite cosmopolitan guy I find the Christmas and New Year holidays here very sad and quiet. Maybe is just that I dont have my good friends and family nearby, what reinforces my initial point.
    Secondly, the idea that a player should be forced to love his club is just insane, is like forcing people to love their job. If they do, the better, if they dont, well, as long as they work and deliver it should be all right.

    Dont take it personal, I believe British culture is nice and friendly (maybe polite than friendly) and I also believe that there are great clubs in Manchester, Liverpool or London, but please, dont think that they are similar to a Brazilian club. The behaviour of the people is different, the music is different, the drinks are differet. Also to that guy that said that England and Brazil are similar, please, mate, you have no idea. And I am not brazilian, actually, I am from their archrival side.

    I believe is wrong for a player to break his contractual commitments but your argument to explain it and correct it is just flawed. I cannot believe that you, with your knowledge and experience, can truly wonder abouth the love for the club and the national team, or to think why a 20 year old guy would prefer to go home for holidays rather than stay alone freezing under the windy rain, if he has the money.

    Either way, I would recommend that you try having your carioca girlfriend to live in a place like Wigan for 1 or 2 years and see how she responds, I bet she will lose the phase 1 feeling of vacationing in London. I know it, it happened to my wife. First it was great, then it was curious, now is "never again a holiday in this island again".

    Cheers Tim, it was a provocative post and always interesting.

  • Comment number 96.

    I do agree with most of the comments above. The South Americans came from a ery poor childhood, where they suffered too much and it is clearly hard for them to separate the professional and the greedy for money. I am a brazilian reader and understand almost everything you said above. It is a shame that Manchester City pays so much money for a talented and disinterest player like robinho. Although is football a sport or a business?
    In my opinion is been a while since footbaal became a massive business, and the players got this idea. Some plays for the money and some plays because they love it.

    I just disagree in the interview with United Twins. They are right about the night life in Manchester, They are from Brazil, the night here is fantastic.

  • Comment number 97.

    Re 95 I live in São Paulo and recall talking to a young Brazilian couple who had lived in London in the 1980s while they were studying. They told me that after the first week in their flat the landlady who lived underneath complained about the amount of water they used. When they explained that they each took a shower every morning and evening she was astonished. Imagine having two showers a day when two a week would suffice! This is a perfectly example of cultural differences. In this case, the Brazilians did not complain about how dirty and unhygienic they thought the English were.

  • Comment number 98.

    I dont agree with this article at all. I think many players (the majority) of foreign players do seed in well and are committed to the cause. I also think if you are gonna blame anyone for players who behave otherwise it has to be the clubs, the associations, UEFA and FIFA. If a wage cap of say for arguments sake £10k was enforced less players would want to sit on the Chelsea bench rather than play for West Ham. These obscene amounts of money attract too many players to one club and it creates merc players who are only out for the bang of the buck.

    The real problem in football is the economics. The Champs League used to be a european competition, its arguable that it remains so. It essentially premiership v la liga. On occassion a Serie A team reaches the heights of the last 8. Even nations like Germany, France and Holland who historially were very competitive are struggling. The money is in England and Spain now and it has for me diminished the attractions of the champions league.

    In the same way players dont see a club they want to win for they only see the money they can get.

    Tim @58 you are completely wrong about quality. I dont see how having 4-5 teams who can win the title shows a lack of quality. Its all relative. The Arsenal of 5-10 years ago who won doubles were fantastic but could get nowhere in the champions league. Were they of a lower quality than the team which finishes 4th each year now and has graced the final and semi's consistently????

  • Comment number 99.

    And for all those of you who are debating the cultural differences i say only this "catch a grip"

    These guys are not staying up above some old bat complaining about showers and they are not in student digs with no money writing to their mommas on old newspapers.

    Even the most average south american at Wigan etc is likely to be swimming in the green stuff(cash! lol).

    They are living the life of luxury and have the resources to bring their family and friends to them! If this is their problem they need to grow up.

    I also think that clubs could be a little better at resting their players. Allowing some time with family at christmas can only mean a refreshed, happy and potentially more focused player after the holidays.

  • Comment number 100.

    I also have to laugh at the "food" arguments.

    I mean, Tescos have as many aisles now dedicated to food items i cannot pronounce than otherwise.

    I have a lot of Friends i met in uni who hail from Botswana. They cooked around the clock in student halls. Im pretty sure you can buy most raw ingredients here in Britain.



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