In his latest piece Brian Glanville looks at heading being banned and the ongoing saga of Mesut Ozil.
Should Heading Be Banned To Avoid Dementia? | Brian Glanville
Another sad premature death of a young footballer from the all too increasingly familiar damage to the brain has again brought news of still another medical inquiry. With the best of intentions, I have to say that I find this or any other such inquiry superfluous. Surely we know well enough by now that dementia can and all too often is caused by heading. That some players, and we think alas of World Cup stars as Nobby Stiles, the late Ray Wilson and Martin Peters, are subject to such affliction. Others are plainly not. But how can you find out which is which via any kind of inspection until the damage has been done and the victim afflicted?
Long long ago at the turn of the century, the greatest centre forward of the time, G.O. Smith declared that when players started heading the ball, it indicated that something was wrong. It is perfectly if alarmingly plain that to protect players in general from dementia, heading would simply have to be abolished, and can you ever see that happening? Like it or not, heading is an intrinsic part of the game and any attempt to prohibit it would result in open rebellion across the continents. So players will continue to head, some will suffer from dementia, though prognosis will be impossible. To head or not to head, that is the question? In an ideal football world, it would be abolished but can you ever imagine that happening?
Mesut Ozil has been sharply rebuked by Uli Hoeness , back in a senior role at Bayern Munich after serving a prison sentence for financial malfeasance, for complaining about his supposedly unfair criticism in Germany. This after resigning from the international side, lamenting the way he has been maligned because of his Turkish background. This, if course, can be only of secondary importance to his club Arsenal. Of primary importance is the fact that they are paying him a colossal and bewildering £350,000 a week to do….. exactly what?
Against Manchester City in the Gunners unhappy opening game, he cut the all too common peripheral figure. Of his unusual talents there can be no doubt. Of his commitment and application, there is concern indeed. But having given him that colossal contract, the Gunners are hoist with their own petard. His salary dwarfs that of even a crucial player such as Aaron Ramsey who admittedly didn’t have one of his happier games against Manchester City, but on £100,000 a week, must be wondering why the Gunners seemingly deem Ozil to be worth three times as much as himself. Ramsey in fact is at this point still in negotiation for a final deal.
As for the new manager Unai Emery, one must sympathise with him over the fact that his very first league game should be against the all conquring Manchester City; who look splendidly well equipped to gain a consecutive Championship title. You could hardly blame Emery for the failings of the veteran Petr Cech in goal, a talented young replacement waits in the wings. He must have been alarmed by the way his defenders stood off to allow City’s Raheem Sterling to stride cross them before pivoting to score his teams first goal. Tactically, attempts at a short passing game were so unproductive that by the end, to the ironic jeers of the crowds, many of whom left before the end, Cech was kicking it long. With equal lack of success. Poor 19-year-old Guendouzi, surprisingly signed from the French second division club Lorient, hopelessly miskicked an attempted clearance allowing Sergio Aguero an unhindered run on goal, only for Cech on this occasion to come to the rescue with a competent save.
The other north London club, Spurs did not buy a single player in the off-season perhaps because of the huge amount of money they spent on building their new stadium. Their victory at Newcastle was hardly a convincing once. But it was a match in which Magpies’ Jonjo Shelvey showed his unquestionable constructive talents in midfield. Could Southgate give him a fresh chance in and England team so short of creative players? Though City’s gloriously precocious and inventive Foden wasn’t even on the bench, surely he must win a regular place for the sake of an England team that needs him.