With the World Cup just around the corner, people are starting to talk about the players who will decide the tournament in Brazil.
The other day, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho explained to Yahoo! how high an opinion he had of Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo – two players who have shared the last 6 Ballon d’Ors:
“He [Messi] is great, he is great. I don’t think he needs to win with Argentina to be great…[Cristiano] Ronaldo is great; I don’t think he needs to be world champion with Portugal to be great.”
Just days before Argentina great Diego Maradona said the same of his compatriot:
“Messi does not need to win the World Cup to be the best player in the world. That has nothing to do with it — we should not confuse being fat with a swollen belly. To win the World Cup would be monstrous for Argentina, it would be monstrous for the fans, and it would be monstrous for Leo. But winning a World Cup or not winning a World Cup does not take away any of what he has done to be where he is.” (La Nacion via ESPNFC)
One player who is not being talked about in the context of World Cups is beleaguered Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverly. In fact quite the opposite is happening with him being the subject of a petition on the part of England fans to have him removed from their World Cup squad. However, in a rare display from an opposing coach, the ever-classy and bright Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who had Cleverly on loan at Wigan, came out in support of the player:
“There are only a few players who look as if they could have been brought up in Holland or Spain or France because of their understanding of the game, their tactical awareness and their technical quality. Tom has got that. Then as a boy, he has got the perfect temperament. He is a level-headed boy. I just don’t understand this campaign. Tom was maybe given a bigger role than he should have been given but all of a sudden he is being judged like this? (The Guardian via ESPNFC)
I wonder if Cleverly could benefit from a change of scenery? Perhaps he could join Martinez at Everton to rebuild his confidence?
One player who is not suffering for confidence and is very happy with his manager is Chelsea’s rising star Eden Hazard. And that manager – to bring this post full-circle – is none other than Jose Mourinho. Here’s how Hazard responded to Mourinho’s claim that he is the best young player in the world:
“It was nice of [Mourinho] to say that, but the important thing is that I’m always testing myself and always challenging myself to do better. It is also good that Mourinho is always in my face, telling me what he thinks, whether it is good or bad. That really keeps you on your toes as a player and is good for my progression. I would like to be considered the best in the world, but there is a gap at the moment. What do I have to do to close it? Score goals, go past players, pass the ball. Basically the same as now, only two times better.” (ESPNFC)
I suppose that Chelsea would be a good destination for Cleverly as well. Mourinho could definitely get the best out of him. Mourinho is famous for doing that with underperforming players wherever he has coached. I’m sure Cleverly would gladly play for Mourinho. The question is would Mourinho rate him enough to have him in his squad?