GUEST POST: Arto Palovaara Asks, Are The Players As Good As We Think They Are?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, we are delighted to offer up the musings of Arto Palovaara.  Enjoy!

My subject for this time will bring up the aspect of the players’ skill and professionalism. And I’m going to talk about sport in general, taking some examples from the football, which could as well be added/translated to hockey.

We have all seen this before, players and coaches change from one team to another after a season or a few depending on the contract, depending upon if the expectations were lived up to or not. Also, we have seen teams who have been a dynasty but have fallen, while teams who never see the nearest sight of a top position have suddenly bigger dreams than ever.

That’s sport, my ladies and gentlemen…

Ferguson vs Moyes

One of those biggest dynasties we have seen is from the football section, Manchester United. Almost unbeatable under Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, which means 20 years of victories in Premier league, FA Cup, UEFA, Champions league etc.

Tremendous players have been scoring and defending for the team.

Sir Alex decided to quit as manager for United before this season, 2013-14. David Moyes entered the stage as the new manager. Not that much voilà when he did so…but he was present in the city of Manchester for about 10 months until the club recently sacked him for poor performance.

We have talked about this before, that it is always easier to sack the coach, than a bunch of players. But I still wonder, when some sort of enlightenment struck me when I read about Moyes departure, something I haven’t myself thought before, not in hockey or in other sport.

If a group of professional players are performing well, winning a lot of series, leagues, cups etc. under a certain manager, but begin to lose suddenly under another coach, that made me think: Are the players as good as we think they are?


Think about it, there’s hardly any more hocus-pocus or deeper secrets in game systems, training methods etc. Pretty much everyone knows everything these days. So I don’t think Moyes’ know-how was that much less than Ferguson’s, and Manchester United were still a team that could be a contender for the league.

So, how come that a bunch of professional players could perform that badly now while they did perform well under Ferguson? Do you hear: professionals…well-skilled players who should stand up for themselves on the ground, Ferguson or not. But they didn’t stand up for themselves. Everyone fell easier than a card-house.

I’m not saying that I do have a point here or that I’m correct. No, that’s not it, as I might be wrong as well. Also, I have no intention to cast a shadow of those teams who have won a lot during a long time, all respect to those victories.

My meaning is just to toss out the idea and something to think about when we next see a “dynasty”, with wonderful players who win a certain amount of cups during a period, let us ask next time: how good are the players really? Especially when they are shifting to another manager.

It might not give us the total answer how the case really is, but it might give us a small hint that we… shouldn’t always believe exactly everything we see on the ground or the rink at first or second sight.

Note as well: We have to also remember that there might be more changing of players and coaches in hockey than in football…so making a comparison might not be just at all, but the question in general I find fair.

/Arto Palovaara, freelance

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