Phil Neville’s excuse for Mesut Ozil’s club form fails to convince. His success for Germany flies in the face of his Arsenal troubles. Something’s wrong.
Phil Neville indicated, whilst commentating for the BBC on the Germany Vs Mexico game, that Mesut Ozil ‘enjoys playing for Germany more than for Arsenal ‘because ‘he’s in a better team, around better players’.
I agree that this is the reason for the difference in his club and country form, but I don’t acknowledge that it’s a good enough excuse.
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It’s not what Neville himself did when he moved from Manchester United to Everton, for instance. Instead of moping and playing down to the level around him, he used his experience, took on more responsibility and decided that his work rate and approach to the game would make Everton a better side. Ozil could take a leaf out of his book.
Other players show a better mentality than Ozil in a similar situation — Gareth Bale for Wales; Wilfried Zaha for Crystal Palace. They would acknowledge that they have an opportunity to be the reason why the team plays well, rather than waiting for others to up their game before doing the same with theirs. You must subvert the negative feeling that others don’t play to the standard which you expect and set that standard for yourself and for them as well.
It is also down to the manager to illustrate this to the players and find a way of getting the best out of them. It’s a question of motivation. Either Ozil needs to find it or someone should give him a kick up the necessary to force it out of him. One way or the other, he has not shown the necessary commitment to lay claim to being a professional, competitive sportsman.
Too many people come up with excuses for him because he can play well. But the best players in the world do play well. It boils down to being able to produce quality consistently, not merely having the talent to do so, but failing to produce on a reliable basis. I’d much rather have a player of lesser quality that meets their highest standard more often than a better player who suffers great fluctuations in form.
I completely acknowledge that other players will influence how good Ozil’s game looks. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to choose when they give their all. For £300,000-a-week, Ozil’s game should make others look better and make it worthwhile for him and everybody else, not the other way around.
Neville has it the wrong way around. It should not be Ozil’s performance level that is dictated by those around him; it should be Ozil who dictates the performance level himself. For Arsenal, he is yet to prove that he is capable.