Monday 4 August 2008

KP and the Cantona conundrum

KP still offers no apology for making stupid strokes. "That's the way I play", he says, and much opinion repeats that and says you have to take the bad with the good, that's what he is, and he's never going to change. I say that's rubbish.

They used to say exactly the same thing about Eric Cantona. "He's a genius; and that means you have to accept the bad boy antics, because that's all wrapped up with him being a genius. You can't have one without the other."

But Eric proved them wrong. After his attack on the Crystal Palace fan, he was sentenced to community service and was banned from playing for several months. When he eventually came back, he was just as much a playing genius as he had ever been, but the bad boy antics had disappeared. People can learn, even people as apparently hot headed as Eric Cantona.

(The case of Joey Barton is an interesting one too - related though not the same thing. Kevin Keegan has has his fair share of critics for allowing Barton back into the fold. I don't know if Barton has reformed or not - I guess we'll find out this season. But I didn't see any of Kevin's critics taking that into account when they attacked him. Apparently people don't deserve a chance when they come out of prison. But that's a different issue.)

So, as I said, people can learn. And I hope KP starts to realise that he too can learn. He wants to dominate the opposition bowlers. Fine. But he can learn that there are many, many ways of dominating, and he will only be a great player, as opposed to a greatly talented one, when he starts to choose the right way to dominate in *these* circumstances at *this* time, rather than just trying to blast them out of their socks at every opportunity. I hope he does learn - he'll be a much better player for it.

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