Koscielny: The Man Who Doesn't Make Sense

Laurent Koscielny is not a bad defender. Indeed, he's rather a good one, but in his latest look at the personalities that define our game Andi Thomas finds something not right...

Last Updated: 23/08/12 at 15:53 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Six Of The Worst - United Under-Performers

2 comments

Whoscored.com's Martin Laurence takes a statistical look at which Manchester United players let their standards slip most under David Moyes...

Premier League Numbers And Stats

3 comments

Wayne Rooney lost the ball more than anyone else, whilst Arsenal missed Aaron Ramsey. Plus, Liverpool could have the worst defence of league champions in almost 40 years.

All Articles

Once upon a time, before the internet and Championship Manager made everything better and worse, it was possible for football clubs to buy players that their twitchy-fingered fans hadn't already become experts on. Those were dark and barbaric times, yes, but we lived through them, and we emerged with a handy battery of stereotypes that we could use to understand exactly what kind of waste of money our latest waste of money was. We learned, for example, that there are basically four kinds of central defender.

Most common to English football fields is the Brutish Enforcer - lion's heart, dandelion's brain - who spends his days flinging himself at or near the ball with minimal regard for anything else in the way, however delicate, breakable, or precious.

Also on the violent side of things, though not as overtly barbaric, is the Repressed Psychopath, all latent menace and contained fury, with the dark eyes and empty smile of a man who knows what all the knives are called, and why.

The most coveted kind of centre-back is the Imperial Controller, those smug aristocrats that float around the field intercepting balls, directing team-mates, and generally making the game and the opposition look disgustingly simple.

Finally, there's the Jovial Maverick, who makes up for his inability to actually defend with hilarious Cruyff turns on the edge of his own box, frequent charges through the centre of the field, and three or four startling finishes a season. (There is an occasional English cross-breed, too, the Brutish Maverick, essentially a big lad that runs forward every now and then only to fall over before he has a chance to do anything useful. You can put your Phil Jones joke in here.)

Laurent Koscielny, however, is a man apart. He lacks the moronic vigour required to brutishly enforce anything; looks more like a repressed philatelist than a psychopath; is more mint imperial than commander; and so far his only maverick tendencies have been some excellent own goals. This failure to cleave to any of the categories brings with it the sad consequence that no defence with Koscielny at its heart will ever be entirely trustworthy. He just doesn't make sense.

At the time of writing. Wikipedia - what? This is research - describes him as "aggressive, uncompromising, and ball-playing", a description that could hardly be more generic if it read "has a nose, and knees". "Uncompromising" is a particularly lovely term for saying something where there's nothing to say, as it sort-of implies that there is such a thing as a "compromising" defender, one that agrees to let a striker through every other run, perhaps, or approaches the opposition to negotiate a reasonable percentage of headers. Calling a defender "uncompromising" is usually just a fairly inelegant variant on "so-and-so doesn't give up easily", which for a defender in the Premier League is more-or-less required.

This is not to say that Koscielny's a bad player. He's actually quite adept at the whole get-in-the-way-of-the-opposition business: reads the game well, has acceptable technique, makes some decent tackles, and certainly carries himself like a man with a reasonable pass completion percentage.

But being good is one thing; feeling right quite another. Stereotypes are the lurid buoys that guide us through a stormy, uncaring, dangerously complex universe. When people obstinately refuse to comply with them, we're lost. In a world where everybody's the new somebody, Koscielny, bless him, isn't the new anybody.

Andi Thomas

Andi also writes for SB Nation and The FCF, and is on Twitter. He also contributed to the Surreal Football Magazine #1, which is out now, and available here.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Sky Bet

    • Retrieving latest Sky Bet odds

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

hy don't you call in Becks as well...and we will all have a lovely tea party!

kimosabi
United: Scholes helping out

M

ourinho is just a good-looking version of Allardyce (Fit Sam?). Clearly 19th century football isn't such a big deal after all?

Ezy_Rider
Chelsea Killed The Game Instead Of Playing It

S

tay put, Pep. Timothy Sherwood has this under control.

slowgraffiti
Guardiola plans Bayern stay

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Expert: Moyes sacking about money

Financial expert David Buik believes Manchester United's decision to sack David Moyes was "80 per cent" about money.

Roberto Martinez backs David Moyes to make 'very successful' return to management

David Moyes will make a successful return to management soon, according to the man who replaced him at Everton.

World Cup: Stewart Downing backs Andy Carroll to make England's squad

Stewart Downing has backed his West Ham United team-mate Andy Carroll to be named in England's World Cup squad.

Mail Box

Guardiola Is No Better Than Moyes...

At least he wasn't in Bayern's defeat to Real Madrid, says one chap in the mailbox. Plus, more excitement over Van Gaal at Man United and thoughts on FFP...

Man United Fans Excited By Van Gaal Talk

Man United fans know who they want to replace David Moyes, with Louis van Gaal the favourite to take over at Old Trafford. Plus, thoughts on Real Madrid v Bayern Munich...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property