On the wave of Germany’s win against Austria today (6:2), I have decided to go back to this post that I started writing two or three days ago. Before doing so, a couple of remarks about today’s match. I thought it was a quiet game for Philipp in terms of joining the attack. Süddeutsche Zeitung writes that he was, indeed, too quiet and did not do much, allowing Austria to attack. (I would not agree on this one, but to each his own.) The newspaper notes with sarcasm that he was as quiet as he claims his book is. (Philipp, indeed, did say that it is a quiet book.) It seems to me Philipp’s function was to concentrate on his primary duty, i.e. defending, which is totally understandable, looking at how well the attack was equipped. He did manage to tear his jersey around the 74th+ minute, even though it was not his fault. Lahm had to go to the sidelines to change it. I guess UEFA’s attitude toward torn jerseys is very serious. *laugh*
As to his book, it appears some people are surprised to discover they actually like the book. (I do not know why anyone would assume it to be bad to begin with.) Apart from those who do not like it “just because”, it seems the readers are enjoying it. There are plenty of interesting comments. One of the users on Amazon gave it 3 out of 5 stars and even expressed his regret at how little insight there is into the world of football with regard to some internal/schematic/strategic matters. The user points out that, in his opinion, Lahm was afraid of stepping on somebody else’s toes. Well, that was exactly the point, isn’t it? He also emphasizes that Lahm did not go into enough depth. (But if we think about it, that was not Lahm’s goal.) The same user writes that Lahm’s book is rather for young readers and Bayern fans. Once again, wasn’t that the point? A review like this one tells me that Lahm has succeeded in doing what he intended to do.
From the same user:
In fact, it is a book for young people. A young person, who is interested in football, is exactly the person to whom I would recommend this book without hesitation. (my translation)
Doesn’t that bring us back to the preface in the book? I think it does, and once again this is exactly what Lahm intended to do. The user also expresses his astonishment at people’s willingness to view the whole thing as criticism, even though many of them have not read the book. I, too, have been wondering about that. People were ready to circulate the idea without reading the book in its entirety. As far as I know, the first edition has been sold out. (It was about 100,000 copies, I believe.) The publishers (?) have ordered another set of copies. I have also seen a comment on Facebook, saying that a person had to go to three different stores to buy it because the first two did not have it.
In an interview to Süddeutsche Zeitung, Schweinsteiger, when answering a question about Lahm’s book, says:
I gladly read biographies, but I already know everything about Philipp. (my translation)
That is what I have been thinking this whole time. The players should know Lahm better than any of us. They should know what he is about.
Also, Holger Badstuber points out in an interview to Sport1:
Philipp also behaves completely normal. We, his colleagues, have appreciated him before the book and continue to appreciate him now. He is our captain. (my translation)
In addition, Marcel Schmelzer remarks:
For us, not much has changed. Philipp is a good captain who helps us, young players, to integrated into the team. You can talk to Philipp about anything, and he comes up to us. I think that here everything goes well. (my translation)
He could have stopped at “he is a good captain” but elaborated on his answer, and I believe that it is very important. One of my readers, Fips4Ever, has already pointed out the very same idea, and I find it interesting. Based on the excerpts about Philipp’s first experience with the National Team, it becomes clear why now he behaves the way he does. And I do not even doubt the fact that one can talk to him about anything. He seems like a very approachable and well-rounded individual.
All of the above guides me to this: Oliver Kahn, who, by the way, clearly cannot let it go, has said that a leader should say uncomfortable truths. Yet, he writes in his blog that he does not understand Lahm. Oliver Bierhoff says that Lahm overstepped the boundaries, and the DFB says they like to have players who have their own opinion.
So, let me make sure if I got it right: he can say the truth but not the truth they want to hear; he obviously has the guts but not in the way Kahn would like him to have them. When he is diplomatic, then it is good for the DFB – even though they need players who openly speak their mind – but it is not good for Lahm because the whole community thinks he is too nice, including Kahn who believes that a player should speak uncomfortable truths. As soon as Lahm shows his claws, there is a possibility of the DFB not being happy about it, like in this case, and certain people, too, may think that it is not cool. Why? Because those are not the claws they would have liked to see. All of that makes me want to say, “Keep it up, Philipp!”
I wonder… If the book had been written by someone else, would the hype have been so huge? Or is it because it is Philipp who speaks?
My question is: what do people need/want?
PS.: here are two videos in English that most likely would have sparked a certain degree of anger in me if I had seen them earlier. I am tired of the phrase “in his book he criticizes”. They make it seem like the whole book is full of criticism. But what bothers me even more is that those who watch the videos will certainly believe what they hear.