Ooh aah Cantona

All the recent rumours and snippets of news about the takeover of Birmingham City make dangerous reading for a pessimist like me. I tend to believe the-sky-is-falling-we-are-doomed interpretations of events rather than the-cavalry-are-coming-to-save-us ones. So all news seems like bad news, even if it isn’t. I can’t resist reading some of the takeover stuff but I can resist writing about it, which would be pointless anyhow because I’m not in the know. So for the time being I’m going to try to make my blog like The Inside Left1 site whose strapline proclaims, “Proudly bringing you none of the latest news, gossip and scores.”  

I’m going to write about something, or rather someone, completely different: Eric Cantona. I recently read an interesting article2 about him and the film he’s made about Brazilian football and politics. It quotes him as saying that all the best football players grew up in poor areas and played footballs in the streets every day. “You need to be angry, because it is not only about abilities. Abilities is 50% and 50% is mentally. And mentally is where you learn how to fight … it is in the street.”  Cantona is well known for his anger and I had a very negative opinion of him after he kicked a Crystal Palace fan in 1995.3

Quite illogically I started to like him more after seeing his performance in the film Looking for Eric, one of my favourite football films. I know he was acting a part and not even acting himself but acting a drug-induced hallucination of himself. But I liked him in the film and that made a difference to the way I felt about him in real life. The incident this year, when he punched a photographer, hasn’t made me like him less; I just dislike the Mail more. (And, no, I’m not going to provide a link to its article.) I don’t think footballers should go round attacking people but I can understand why some do. They have to be combative and aggressive when they play and that spills out into their lives off the pitch. They are flawed human beings and I’m not perfect either so I hesitate before throwing the first stone.

I don’t know whether Cantona has got the percentages right, 50% physical and 50% psychological, but I believe in the importance of the mental aspect of the game.  It’s one of the reasons why teams can be so inconsistent. It’s also a reason why crowds can make a difference and help players to keep going right to the end of the match.  As I wrote in a previous post about the Bolton game4 “it felt as though the crowd was transfusing its energy and desire into the players”.  You can’t do that when you’re sitting on a sofa watching TV. That’s why I’ll be going to Birmingham City games next season, whoever the owners are.

  1. The Inside Left
  2. Eric Cantona: Fifa’s corruption divides Brazilian football from its roots
  3. Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick of 1995: Flashback
  4. Bolton

2 thoughts on “Ooh aah Cantona

  1. Stan031

    Its an interesting point you sign off with and of course that is what football is all about. However, it works the other way too does it not? Robbie Savage could lift the crowd and get them going with a sudden surge of vain popping ball chasing energy which would end only when he won the ball back or at least gave a free kick away – this in turn would get the crown on their feet and the couldron would bubble for the rest of the game.
    In the 2 years Lee Clarck has been manager I have not felt that emotion down Stans (other than the late comebacks for 2, 3 or 4 down), the footballl is stale, boring, no tackles, no risks, its for that reason I wont be renewing my season ticket until LC is gone and we can look forward to some excitement again- whoever the owners are!

    1. Joe King

      In the world of sterile no contact football, I’m afraid Robbie Savages abrasive style would see a red card almost every other game. Tackles are frowned upon by referee’s and TV pundits alike, with the majority of our player either young kids or loanee’s is it any wonder they were afraid to take risks? I won’t defend LC’s tactics nor team selections because of my illness I wasn’t able to get to any games. It does seem that the thrilling games of the past are actually that! most games I see are of tippy-tappy football where the ball is given to, rather than won by the opposition by the way of misplaced passes and not the result of tackles.

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