Sometimes it is better to keep schtum
Emile Heskey’s latest comments in regards to the club vs country debate have got me thinking.
Heskey, who has failed to maintain a starting place at Villa this season, has been left warming the bench, while international rivals Gabby Agbonlahor and Ashley Young have been firing the Villains attack.
Feeling that his lack of game time is damaging his World Cup chances, Heskey went public with his frustrations, issuing a statement that inferred that he would seek a move unless Martin O’Neill started playing him in a more regular role.
Now this is nothing new, the balance between club and international life is a difficult situation to manage. Players face the wrath of club managers and fans for choosing to promote their international cause, whereas they face public vitriol if they don’t pay attention to international overtures.
However, Heskey’s outburst to me seems arrogant, presumptuous and well counterproductive. Heskey, who is a constant under Fabio Capello, hasn’t scored for Villa this season and only managed two goals last season. No player has a divine right to play for his team, as Heskey should know after a 15 year career. And yet, his spiel in the press seems to indicate that he should have a starting place.
A seasoned-pro, Heskey should know that the way to ingratiate himself to his club manager is to keep his head down and work hard to get a first team place. Coming out in the press, voicing your displeasure, is unlikely to garner the favour of your manager.
Naturally players hoping to get into Capello’s world cup team will be agonising over their club from, especially since it now seems that even the surest of team members are called into question. The fact is that players playing week in week out are more likely to board the plane to South Africa.
However, that doesn’t mean there is carte blanche to behave like a child when not selected. Indeed, a player will mark himself out even more to Capello if he can cope with warming the bench and come out even stronger.
By running to the press, Heskey has proved that footballers don’t necessarily act with the greatest of forethought. Now, he has even more to prove if he wants to catch Martin O’Neill’s eye. Something that I am sure he will be reminded with vigour when he returns to Villa Park.