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

Does David De Gea Need Competition?

Post comment

It would certainly be a good idea to give Victor Valdes a contract, while we have more mails on Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger, the rabona and mailbox gripes...

Backing Balotelli To Keep His Starting Spot

Post comment

Mario Balotelli might be facing a fight for his future at Liverpool, but Degsy likes the look of 7/4 that he starts against Hull. Plus, United could play right into Chelsea's hands...

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.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

Y

ou are wrong Per, thats the right way the play. Its everyone elses' fault that it doesnt work.

delboy
Mertesacker urges style change

A

s it's panto season coming soon, let me be the first Oh yes you do

munchie
Rodgers: No defence coach

T

hat's it for me, that's ego talking and nothing more. Three seasons in and he still hasn't resolved the issues in defence. This won't end well, he doesn't have the skills needed to sort out the back four and isn't prepared to bring in those who do. This is the worst team I've seen since the late days of Houllier. Brendan...you're fired.

rodger's gusset
Rodgers: No defence coach

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Premier League: Per Mertesacker urges Arsenal style change

Per Mertesacker has called on Arsenal to try something other than 'one-twos through the middle'.

Rodgers: No defence coach needed at Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers insists that Liverpool do not need a defensive coach despite shipping 19 goals in all competitions this season.

European Qualifiers: Serbia handed 3-0 walkover win but deducted three points

Serbia have been handed a 3-0 walkover against Albania following last week’s European Qualifier - but lose the points.

Mail Box

Does David De Gea Need Competition?

It would certainly be a good idea to give Victor Valdes a contract, while we have more mails on Brendan Rodgers, Arsene Wenger, the rabona and mailbox gripes...

Dropping Jack And Pity For Poor Alexis...

We have lots more mails about Liverpool (is Brendan the naked emperor?) and Arsenal. One reader feels sorry for Alexis Sanchez while one wants Wilshere dropped...

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