The 1st Rule Of Mesut Özil Club…Or How I learned To Löw Jogi
The First Rule Of Mesut Özil Club:
In an underground bunker basement stands Mesut Özil, dimly lit, encircled by a tough, intense and edgy crowd of wanna be warriors, hanging on his every word.
“Welcome to Mesut Özil Club.”
“The first rule of Mesut Özil Club is: Before you shoot, you look for a player in a better position.”
“The second rule of Mesut Özil Club is: There is always a player in a better position.”
Mesut Özil ain’t for changin’. He is 27 years old now and despite Arsene boldly declaring that Mesut had evolved into a more opportunistic goalscorer, in reality the needle hasn’t budged.
Arsene has been trying to cajole Mesut into being more selfish. In 2014: “You want the guy who plays behind the striker to score some goals and sometimes he [Özil] is too obsessed with making the perfect pass when he could take a shot at goal,” Wenger said.
“[He can improve] by practicing on it and convincing him by showing him situations where he can shoot more, and he will do that.”
Arsene in 2015: “I am pleased that Mesut Özil is starting to score goals and get in the box now,” he said. “He didn’t do that much before, but now he starts to get into positions where he can score goals. He is a good finisher because when he gets in front of goal, he is deadly.
“He made many runs without the ball, behind the defenders, which I like,” Wenger said. “That is a bit new because he likes to come to the ball. But he mixed up his game better.”
“But he doesn’t take enough chances when he is in a position where he can finish. He is conscious of it and wants to do it now…we want 10 goals per season from him.”
So what do the numbers say. Has Mesut upped his goal-scoring over the 3 seasons in the league?
2013/14: 5 in 25 – 1 goal every 5 games
2014/15: 4 in 21 – basically 1 goal every 5 games
2015/16: 6 in 35 – basically 1 goal every 6 games.
His assists, however, have skyrocketed in his 3rd season: 9 in 2013/14, 5 in 14/15, 19 in 15/16. And but for the bunch of duffers around him for the 2nd half of the season, Mesut should have registered in the mid to high 20s for assists in the PL in 15/16.
In the words of Margaret Thatcher, The Lady’s not for turning.
Let’s be fair, there almost always IS someone in a better position when you are Mesut Özil, because he can get the ball to players through his ridiculous skill and touch who would be off limits to any other playmaker.
There’s a wonderful logic to it. Rather than devoting 80% of your available neural networks to setting up players and hold back 20% for scoring, push all your chips into the center of the table, go all in. ALWAYS believe there is a player in a better position and with great vision and skillset you can make it thus. What’s more, your team mates will always bust a gut to make it into the box because they know the “assist” is guaranteed to come. A virtuous cycle.
But, you say, sometimes Ozil does score! What gives? Well…when Özil does score, it is by imagining a player in a better position than himself, standing inside the net. That’s why most of his goals are hit like passes.
Özil is not the new Bergkamp. He is a one off.
It is no wonder Ronaldo loved him. The man who believes no team mate should ever shoot instead of assisting him, and the boy who believed he should assist and never shoot.
Clearly Özil was Arsenal’s outstanding player of the season in 15/16 and reaching the peak of his abilities – the Mesut Özil way would seem to have a beautiful logic and thankfully a huge payoff.
As in every great relationship there is compromise and growth on both sides. Arsene may not have persuaded Özil to get any greedier but at least, according to Arsene, “He has added runs into the box now. You watch how many times he’s in the box compared to what he did before. I think he has become an absolutely unbelievable player.”
Or as Mesut Özil might add: “I run into the box…all the better to assist from.”
Oh well. Good enough.
So while Arsene, like a footballing Sisyphus, will push Özil to score more goals, only to be frustrated for all eternity by Özil’s infinite generosity, Jogi Löw has accepted Özil for who he is.
And he loves him for it. Which is how I learned to Löw Jogi. Jogi has stuck with Özil through thick and thin, despite the many alternate talents at his disposal, despite the frequent criticism from the never-satisfied German public who, disappointingly like the British public, don’t really “get” Mesut Özil.
Jogi enabled Özil to become a World Champion which gives Mesut the status he needs in the ranks of the world’s best and most successful, and allows him to have more patience for the Arsenal project.
Sure we could now make jokes about Jogi Löw and his revolting habits. And I’m sure with my reputation that’s exactly what you’d expect of me – to make those same old jokes. Well, you’re wrong. I will make new jokes.
But seriously, here is a very scary thought. If that is what Löw will do with half a billion people watching him, with his whole country, his parents, his family, his neighbours, everyone whose respect he desires watching him, what would he do with the cameras off. It’s a terrifying thought.
But a thought that has an answer…
An answer provided by none other than Bastian Schweinsteiger, a man not easily traumatized.
Here is an excerpt from a Schweinsteiger interview for the Bild newspaper…
Schweinsteiger: “It was a practice session like any other practice session, or so it seemed to us. I don’t know if I can say it…what he did, I mean…
The interviewer encourages a now visibly shaking Schweinsteiger: “Please. Go on, if you can.”
Schweinsteiger: “He…he…stuck his finger up his nose.”
Interviewer: “And put the Schlungbockel in his mouth. Yes, this we have seen before.”
Schweinsteiger: “No. No! He then took that Schlungbockel and rolled it in his Schmegstonker.”
Interviewer: “Mein Gott. And then he put that in his mouth?!”
Schweinsteiger: ‘No! No…then he took it from his Schmegstonker and rolled it around his Krotchpumpel.”
Interviewer: “Gott im Himmel.”
Schweinsteiger: “Then he reached back into his Lederhosen to roll it around the rim of his Arschlock. Again and again while making a low groaning noise…like an old animal that has laid down in the woods to die.”
Interviewer: “Acchhh, mein Gott, why have you forsaken me.”
Schweinsteiger : “And then he pulled it from his Arschlock …”
Interviewer: “Nein. Stop it. I order you now…”
Schweinsteiger: “And THEN he…”
Suddenly Schweinsteiger lunges forward to bury his face in a waste basket as he heaves his stomach empty but only until the interviewer grabs it from his grasp and himself wretches into a now already full-to-overflowing basket.
The interview caused uproar in Germany. Löw’s camp rushed out a statement initially denying everything. But as more and more of the National Team corroborated Schweinsteiger’s version of the Schlungbockel Affair, Löw’s PR machine switched tack to downplay the significance. “We don’t see the big deal. Why did Jogi do this thing? Well, first answer us, why do some English deep fry their Mars Bars? For the same reason. To make them even more delicious. And they are.”