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From mental strength to paranoia: another day in football

Paranoia is the stuff of jokes, but for those who suffer from it, it is a totally debilitating condition.

This past weekend the Ince character said in every newspaper that would give him space that “people are out to get Keane and me.” I would have thought most people couldn’t give a toss about either of them, but maybe it is all a matter of perspective.

The situation regarding the mental state of those in the football game was also taken up by the owner of Sunderland (Per Magnus Andersson) to the effect that he was really glad that Roy Keane had left since he had an unstable personality that made him unsuitable for football.

There was nothing much new here. Ince’s demand that everyone call him the Guvnor, and his rejection of that fact (despite the fact that he has or had a numberplate apparently that somehow twisted its letters and numbers to spell Guvnor) suggests an over-excitable view of himself.

As for Keane, we have all seen him play, and despite all the obvious talent it was always clear there was something ticking away inside that was at best not right and at worst downright bloody dangerous. The famous line from his book “I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you cunt. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries,” was enough to get him a slap on the wrist and a fine of 3 seconds pay from the FA. They’re tough these kids from the FA.

Thinking on these events of the last few days I wondered about Eboue. Everyone’s talked about the booing, so you don’t need another word on that from me, but I found myself more interested in the events before that. He played poorly – very poorly near the end – and Wenger substituted him, quite rightly I thought.

Players need to have incredibly resilient personalities to stand such situations – to come on as a sub, play poorly, and then get substituted – certainly a lot stronger personality than I have ever had. But as we see with Ince and Keane, it is but one step on from there to become paranoid or aggressive to the point of being criminal.

I remember Martin Hayes getting booed regularly – despite the fact that he was our top scorer one season with over 20 goals, and eventually he was sold because of the way the crowd got onto him. He was not liked by some twirps at Highbury because he came across as a shy and retiring character on the pitch who didn’t seem to interact with the crowd. Even when he once ran the entire length of the pitch, dribbled past 8 of the Leicester team and then scored the goal of the season, he could hardly raise his hand in celebration, and just trudged back to the half way line with his head down.

As with all situations where the individual appears in public, it is not just skill that is needed, but also what Wenger always calls “mental strength”. I have no idea whatsoever if Eboue has that, had it and lost it, or what, but that’s what is needed.

I’ve never had the football skills nor the mental strength to play football at anything other than the most mediocre level, so I can’t imagine what it is like. I can get upset if a publisher rejects a book of mine. Goodness knows what I would be like if I was playing in front of 60,000 people as a sub, and then I got subbed.

1 comment to From mental strength to paranoia: another day in football

  • don't believe the hype

    It would be a shame if Eboue can’t get over what happened. Despite popular believe he is not a completely useless player. He is a useful squad player and personally I think we have missed his more solid defensive qualities in the last month or so.

    This season he has really tried and before the injury he played well without the histrionics that people complain about. But he has been labelled as a ‘cheat’ and just can’t shake that off so now so he is an easy target for the disaffected. If others could put themselves in his shoes and imagine what it must have been like for him on Saturday, whatever they might personally feel about him, perhaps they will think twice in future.