May 22, 2012
MY TWO CENTS
Another session of Red Bulls’ Analyst, analysis for a team, therapy for fans
By Chris Brandon Whitaker
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
For this month’s session, the Red Bulls’ Analyst will process the issue of low self-esteem regarding central defener Markus Holgersson.
Brought into the team to instill physicality in a weak backline, Holgersson was initially out-muscled, out-smarted and out-maneuvered repeatedly by opposing MLS attackers, earning him the unenviable moniker of Holgerslug. Looking like he was about to be relegated to serve as the gofer for center back stud Wilman Conde, Holgersson found himself thrust back into the spotlight when injuries sidelined Conde and journeyman Stephen Keel. With groans from the fan base and snickers from strikers around the league, Holgersson cringed at the unpopular image of defensive collapse whipping boy.
Joining the Red Bulls this winter, Holgersson rode into New York on a career high, having earned his first cap for the Swedish National Team over the winter. Prior to that he had played for Helsingborg (Sweden), making 80 appearances with the Allsvenskan side and helping the team become the first Swedish club to win the League, Super Cup and Swedish Cup titles in 2011. Yet, in spite of all these achievements, Holgersson was reportedly not a fan favorite in his homeland.
Mental health issue: low self-esteem:
Self-esteem is a person's overall evaluation of his or her own worth, which can fluctuate with successes and failures, but is primary based on fundamental beliefs one has about oneself. It’s not necessarily the pure “facts,” but rather what one believes to be true. For a guy who does commando training in his spare time, you have to wonder if Holgersson has doubts about “being all he can be.”
Therapeutic intervention: captain’s armband.
When the Red Bulls star captain Thierry Henry went out with a right hamstring strain in the match against New England, coach Hans Backe surprised everyone by passing the captain’s armband to Holgersson. Although there were more worthy candidates on the pitch, the coach saw this as a chance to bolster Holgersson’s flagging morale (let’s take a moment to pay respects to Joel Lindpere’s leadership by example, Dane Richards’ seniority and Rafa Marquez’s fame, fortune, and futility.) However, the savvy intervention worked, fortunately, as Holgie finished the next three games with shutouts.
Prognosis: the bench.
I forget who said that Backe making Holgersson captain is like the rich dad who becomes an AYSO coach just to make his uncoordinated kid the team captain. Love-child preferential treatment rumors aside, let’s face it, now that Heath Pearce has joined the team, Holgersson will be riding the pine as soon as Conde is healthy again.
Counseling homework assignment: Swedish ego massage
One of the most effective ways to improve one’s self-esteem is by repeating the often-derided positive affirmation. (We love you, too, Stuart Smalley!) Here are some helpful mantras for Markus Holgersson:
* Just as the catering industry depends upon Swedish meatballs, I am the Swedish meatball of this backline.
* No matter what they say, ABBA rocks and the Swedish Chef is cool.
* Nepotism can be a good thing.
* That’s Captain Holgerslug — I mean Holgersson—to you buddy! (Beware the Freudian slip!)
Treatment: prove all the meanies wrong
They say the best way to improve self-esteem is by doing estimable acts. With his newly inflated self-concept, Holgersson needs to shut down the naysayers with results. If he can deliver more shutouts, score more headers on corner kicks and stop getting turned by strikers, this player will be able to hold his head high, even after they give the captain’s armband back to Henry.
(For a city with more psychotherapists than bartenders and a team with more issues than a magazine stand, the Red Bulls’ Analyst offers therapeutic counsel rather than a cure).
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