Please take a moment out of your gruelling schedule and spare a thought for poor Laurent Koscielny, recently compelled to retire from French international duty at the tender age of just 33.
I know – we all assumed he would go on playing for his country for at least another quarter of a century, but he’s made up his mind and there’s no going back. And it seems as though the nonchalant (it’s a French word I think) attitude towards the ‘defendre’ (another French word) from his boss Didier Deschamps is what’s tipped over the edge into retirement.
‘He called me once for my birthday in September,’ Koscielny said when asked if Deschamps had supported him during the Achilles injury that led to him missing the World Cup, adding ‘otherwise, no. Lots of people disappointed me.
Not only the coach. It feels like a hit on the back of the head.’
As opposed to, say, a whack on the ankle.
Koscielny added, ‘France’s World Cup victory did me a lot more psychological damage than my injury did me. When you are in good form, you have lots of friends. When you are injured… after a certain period of time, you are forgotten about.’
The poor lamb. Maybe managers should think twice before being needlessly cruel to pampered millionaire man-babies such as Koscielny.
Maybe there needs to be a program of progressive ideas that will make them feel more appreciated and loved. Such as…
Gold stars for good behaviour
We all know that emotionally underdeveloped little primary school kids thrive in a rewards-based culture, and there’s no reason why professional footballers should be any different.
If they’ve done good running and kicking and jumping during training, award them gold stars – they can put them on their Saturday kit and show them off to all the fans and the (probably jealous) opposing players.
Emotional support animals
Increasingly popular with people who struggle to deal with stressful situations, this could definitely make a real difference to the likes of Koscielny.
If he ever feels brave enough to play football again, the comfort provided by playing with a squirrel under his arm or a koala bear strapped to his back would be a huge help.
It’s time for men to shrug off the stigma around expressing their emotions and say goodbye to the in-built stoicism they are forced to adopt by society’s outmoded rules.
Every player who has a grievance with a teammate or member of the coaching staff should be interviewed on their club’s website and encouraged to unleash their inner agony with tears, foot-stamping and maybe even screaming.
One of the few times we see players express themselves openly is when they’re hugging to celebrate a goal or victory. Encourage this more by getting them to all have a big cuddle club in the centre circle for an hour ahead of kick off.
Surely it’ll be better for their emotional well-being than having tactics and orders barked at them by an aggressive, sweaty manager?
Ban aggression and winning
A method that is more and more popular at early-years levels of football, the ultra-competitive element of the sport should be removed at once, replaced by a more caring and inclusive approach.
Rather than tacking, players should politely ask permission for the ball from opponents and scorelines should be disregarded, with referees awarding points according to whoever tried their best. Obviously, each match will finish 11-11 because they’re ALL champions!