04 August 2014

No Sleep Lost Over Schröck

You are probably coming across this after already having seen the statement on the ‘official’ Facebook page of Stephan Schröck explaining the reason why he is quitting the Philippine national football team.

It is easy enough for any Tom, Dick or Harry to make a Facebook page and make statements on behalf of anybody; but assuming that the page is indeed official and that Schröck did indeed make that statement, I wish that he did not.

In the purported statement, Schröck says that he will no longer represent the Philippines as long as Thomas Dooley is coach; but does not cite any specific reason. In the same breath, the statement is supposedly being made because of certain accusations; albeit by whom and of what the statement does not elaborate.

Earlier, the Azkals Facebook page which says that it is the official and authorised page of the national team made an official and very respectful statement announcing Schröck’s ‘resignation’ from the national team but also thanking him for his contributions and wishing him well in his professional career.

Dooley does; and he is ultimately answerable to team management and the PFF. This being a Suzuki Cup year, we all need to rally behind our team instead of being divided by issues we do not know an awful lot about or have any control of.
Being a big fan of Schröck myself, I found this announcement shocking and somehow deflating. Like any fan of the national team, I wished that there was more information given by the announcement.

However, the cryptic statement on the Azkals page gave away more in its silence on the reasons for Schröck’s ‘resignation.’ Having been in the game all these years, I instinctively recognised that all is not well behind the scenes.

The more discerning among readers will probably agree with me that whatever the reasons are probably spawned all the way back in the Challenge Cup hosted by the Maldives.

Curious as I am, having managed teams for three decades, I am all too aware that there are certain affairs of any team that are best confined within the team. This matter with Schröck, in my opinion, appears to be one of those.

I could understand petulance from any of the high school boys that I worked with in the past; at least each of them had the immaturity of adolescence to fall back on.

But Schröck is no schoolboy.

Thus, I would have much preferred that he sought a private conference with Dooley or even team management to air his gripes. If compromise is unreachable, results on the field will eventually speak louder than words; and Dooley’s contract is God knows short enough.

By going public on social media, Schröck – and Dennis Cagara, I just learned from his own post on Twitter – politicises the situation and probably puts pressure on Dooley to explain himself to the public.

In truth, however, the public does not select the team or lays down tactics and policies.

Dooley does; and he is ultimately answerable to team management and the PFF. This being a Suzuki Cup year, we all need to rally behind our team instead of being divided by issues we do not know an awful lot about or have any control of.

Schröck is a wonderful and exciting talent; our best in my humble opinion. That said, I had written in the past that he sometimes tended to showboat. From a purely coaching standpoint, I appreciated it that – in the Challenge Cup – Dooley was making a subtle effort to ‘rein’ him in.

I appreciate the contributions our foreign-based players have given to the cause; but it is a sign of our growth as a football nation that flying in from Europe does not guarantee playing time or that one can play as one wishes to.

In fact, the competition for places that Dooley has created in a few short months ought to be a source of optimism for both players and fans. It means that not just the eleven on the pitch but the entire squad has become stronger.

That is always a good thing.

I personally hope that the situation can be resolved and that Schröck – and Cagara – can be persuaded to suit up for the team again. Both are experienced players who will add to the depth of the team.

That said, I have decided that it is best not to lose sleep if they do not. At the end of the day, what will ultimately decide our future as a football nation are not two players who do not want to play but the many others who do.

Acknowledgment: Top photo from the Stephan Schröck Facebook page.

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