Our Subject Is Galatasaray

Last Tuesday, while I was on the Los Angeles flight, I felt like writing about something I wanted to say for a long time. Our subject is Galatasaray.​

Things ‘seem’ to work well in our team Galatasaray, on which we set our hearts. Galatasaray is the leader of the Turkish league with 37 points, it managed to qualify out of the group in the Champions League and will play a match with Schalke in the next round, a team within Galatasaray’s ability. It managed to bring Sneijder and Drogba, one of the best players in their own positions, into the team. The credits for these transfers should of course go to Ünal Aysan, the Club Chairman and to the Executive Board. In fact, this situation is humorously expressed in the forums of the fans: “The Chairman has promised us strawberries, but he has given us a fruit plate.” This year, Galatasaray doesn’t limit its sportive success only to football. It aims for the top in all tournaments it joins in basketball, volleyball and all other amateur branches and it transfers players accordingly and does what’s necessary for success. It is not only in sportive success, but there has been a serious development in financial administration as well. The income is continuously increasing. Especially after the last transfers, another boost in the sales of uniforms is expected. The debts are decreasing. In short, all the necessary steps for the success of the team are taken and the club is giving the signals for returning to its glorious days, just like the end of the 90s.



More importantly, Galatasaray began to draw away from the other clubs and it finds itself in a position that becomes stronger in time. The main reason that I’m writing this article is to remind the following idea: It is highly possible to make serious mistakes by showing your biggest weakness during times when you feel the most powerful. Besides, there’s still a lot to do. As a good Galatasaray fan, I would like to share with you the risks and the things to be done and I want to make some warnings:




1. The Schalke matches are critical: The Schalke matches that will be played to be qualified for the next round in the Champions League are a big turn. If we qualify, we will continue to play in the Champions League. Then, the expensive transfers we made will have a meaning. If the team gets qualified, I believe it has a future all the way up to the finals. However, the German teams can be a trouble for us. If we don’t qualify, we will continue to play in the Turkish league this year with the transfers we made, but we won’t be rewarded for our efforts. In other words, the contribution of the star players to the team will be limited. On top of it, if we are eliminated, Fatih Terim will have to motivate the star players for the Turkish league and for the next year.

2. We have to increase our performance in the second half of the league: Things seem to work well in the football team. Here, the credits should go to Fatih Terim. He continues to take successful steps to return back to the good old days. Also, we can say that we were lucky this year. If we had the score we now have in the league last year, we would be 4th (last year, we were the leader on the 20th week with 46 points). Whenever we lost, our competitors lost as well. Now, we are the leader. However, the teams aiming for leadership in the league will focus more and will lose fewer points from now on. We shouldn’t tolerate losing points in the second half, like we generously did in this first half. So, we definitely should play a more successful second half.

3. Infrastructure: We don’t show the necessary interest to infrastructure. Maybe there is some serious work going on about it, but I’m looking at the result: In the last 5 years, how many football players has Galatasaray brought into the senior team from the junior one? This is what I look at. We continue to take action in football with the Real Madrid model. I support Real Madrid in Spain. However, I don’t approve of a game based on individuals and expensive transfers instead of a whole team. The model of Barcelona, the rival of Real Madrid, I think, is the right model in football. I’m talking about the Barcelona model that made Messi who he is now and that has been rewarding the team for its efforts for years. You can bring up at least two successful players to the senior team from the juniors every year if you spare some of the money spent on the expensive transfers to the infrastructure. Plus, the cost of these players brought from the junior team will be a lot less from the transferred ones and since they are young, they can have a career in which they can serve the team for at least 10-15 years, just like Bülent Korkmaz, one of the legendary players of Galatasaray did. Or if they are very successful and they are wanted by other teams, they can financially support Galatasaray by being transferred to a European team with a good transfer fee. The success of Galatasaray in the second half of the 90s was due to long-term plans and investments made on the infrastructure. So as a team, we have moved from the Barcelona model to the Real Madrid model nowadays and I think we are taking the easy way out. The transfers made today will bring excitement to the team for a short term, strengthen it in the international matches if the players are motivated enough, cause a boost in the uniform sales; but we definitely need to focus on the infrastructure, make the necessary investments and try to get efficiency from it. Otherwise, the achieved success won’t be sustainable. We will be successful for 2 years and fall back again afterwards. There will be expensive transfers, a rise and a fall again. The dynamics inside the team will continue to be in a mess. Besides, I don’t think we always get the expected efficiency from the transfers. Even though the people working on it are well-intentioned people, most of the transfers made in the last few years don’t meet the expectations and the money spent on them are wasted (or a football player is given more then what he deserves).




4. Young transfers: Speaking of the transfers made to the team, I would like emphasize a mistake made in the transfer policy. We have to transfer young players to the team. All transfered players are over 25 years old. If possible, we have to transfer players below age 25, if we want the team to achieve sustainable success. Probably one of the well-played moves in the history of Galatasaray was transferring Ribery. When young Ribery came to Turkey, the Fenerbahçe fans were mocking Galatasaray saying that Galatasaray had transferred Anelka’s bonus. We all saw the bonus later on: He’s playing in Bayern Munich as one of the best players in the world for long years. Ribery was 22 when he came to Galatasaray. To me, he is one of the three best players that ever came to play football in Turkey and unfortunately we lost him. If we could keep him, he would have served Galatasaray very well like Hagi, or he would have earned the club a lot of money with his transfer fee (he was free because we didn’t pay him in time and unfortunately he was transferred from Marseille to Bayern Munich with a serious transfer fee). From now on, we have to build our transfer policy on young players, Turkish or foreign, with bright futures so that our successes become long-term and sustainable.

5. Correct Transfers: Most of the transfers made to the football team are made for forward and midfield. However, the biggest weakness of our football team is defense. I think we have to make at least two transfers for defense. One for the left wing and one for the stopper position. Take a look at the goals we concede. We always concede a head goal. Plus, we fail to stop the attacs from the left wing. It is necessary to give importance to physique in transfers made for defense in order to have control over high balls. The transfers made for this position should at least be 1.85 m tall (in fact, they should be over 1.90 m if possible) and should have full control over high balls by an ability to jump well. Besides his height, this person should be strong, resilient and should be able to run fast. Plus, in modern football, the players playing in defense are asked to act as a play maker as well. The transfers made for this position should have the technique for this.

6. Basketball: We have to be more careful in branches outside football. We are talking about a club that aims for the top in all branches. However, things are not going so well in basketball, which is the most popular sport after football. Even though it was thought at the beginning that it was a good decision to transfer coach Ergin Ataman, who pulled a rabbit out of a hat last year and carried Beşiktaş to championship in all tournaments they played in including the FIBA Euro Challenge, to Galatasaray, the team is declining nowadays. We’re not at the desired place in the Turkish league. Last year there was the Cemal Nalga scandal and now doping was found in one of our most important players, Hawkins. We can’t expect any good from him anymore. This will also affect the team badly. In short, we can say that transferring Beşiktaş’s technical director and its best player Hawkins at the beginning of the season didn’t work for us for now. This transfer attack set two of the three biggest communities of Turkey, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, against each other. I don’t think this was necessary. It was necessary to either keep our former coach Oktay Mahmudi, who’s now successful in Efes, or to either bring a new technical director from outside. The step that should be taken now is to give the present coach at least two more years. Long-term planning is a must. Even if the desired success isn’t achieved this year, Coach Ergin Ataman can succeed again in the following years.

7. The weaknesses in the management: The cracks in the management should be mended at once. From the newspapers, we hear that there are schisms inside the management. This is not a healthy situation for the club. For the continuity of our success, we have to mend these cracks and the management should be in full harmony. Only if this harmony is maintained, then we can be successful in all branches. The Club Chairman has an important role in this matter.

8. Sportsmen are role models at the same time: There are two types of sportsmen: One has a good character, focuses on his own job and doesn’t make concessions even when he loses. The second type wants to win no matter what, has serious weaknesses in his character (quick-tempered, too aggressive, indifferent, attracted too much to the opposite sex, doesn’t understand what it is to be a professional, etc.) and can even play to the crowd whenever he’s in trouble. Unfortunately, every team has a lot of the second type. We can count Melo as the first on the list of the second type of players in Galatasaray. I have told my thoughts about him in my article dated April 16, 2012, whose link is as follows: http://serhansuzer.com/eng/on-the-super-final-play-off-and-galatasaray/. I still think the same and realize everyday how right I am. I witnessed the same thing during the Beşiktaş match played recently. Personally, I can’t stand such players. Imagine a football player who beats his teammates, who joins the team at least two months late at the beginning of the season, who tweets – as if mocking the team – inappropriate photos from his vacation while the team is heavily training in a camp and who starts to warm up towards the end of the first half. Besides, he’s a lot under the average of Brazil in terms of football technique. He’s always about to be shown a red card. In the last game with Beşiktaş, he was exported from the match at a very critical time because he spat on a Beşiktaş player. In short, this guy has nothing to hold on to, he’s unbearable. We have to leave keeping some players in the game just because they give strength to the team aside. Let’s not forget that sports is a tool that addresses to large masses, that leads the society and that will keep the society away from violence and provide prosperity when done properly. This is why we need the right role models in sports. I still can’t understand how such a guy is still in Galatasaray, one of the most important football clubs-the most popular branch of sports, and wears Metin Oktay’s uniform numbered 10. This guy playing in our team harms the club financially and emotionally, he’s a bad example to the youth and he promotes violence. We don’t want to see players like Melo in the team; we need players like Elmander. We need players with strong character, who get along with everyone well, who are professionals that do their jobs well and who are good role models.

9. Sharing our stadium with Beşiktaş: I believe that not sharing our stadium with Beşiktaş was not a right decision. Everything aside, Beşiktaş’s İnönü Stadium and Galatasaray High School are at a walking distance. The districts Beşiktaş and Beyoğlu, in which the centers of both teams are found, are neighbors to each other. I mean, we are the brother teams of the same shore; our relationship has always been good. Sharing our stadium temporarily while the İnönü Stadium was being rebuilt would clench this friendship and brotherhood and also we would have gained a side income from the Beşiktaş games. I think this wasn’t the right decision. I believe we can at least provide Beşiktaş with this opportunity the next year. I’m telling this as someone who has a lodge in the Arena Stadium. As a Galatasaray fan, I’m willing to share our lodge with the Beşiktaş fans.



10. Amateur branches: Galatasaray is one of the most important sports clubs of Turkey and it’s the best in terms of representing Turkey abroad. I think the club has to give importance to the amateur branches in some way. In other words, Galatasaray can be a sort of medicine to the failures in the last Olympics. Many athletes who may win medals at the Olympics in the future can be raised by humbly investing in different branches. This way, you can spread the success and money earned from sports to many different branches. We all wish for the success of Turkey eventually. There will be many other success stories coming out of this country as long as we take the right steps and support amateur branches.

Finally, I would like to mention Mehmet Ali Birand, an important member of the Galatasaray community, who sat on the third row like me in the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, who watched the games with joy and excitement and usually came to the matches with his son: May God rest his soul in peace and give patience to his family and loved ones. In the same way, may God rest the souls of Burhan Doğançay, Prof. Dr. Toktamış Ateş, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Mete Işıkara and Ferdi Özbeğen, some of Turkey’s values, who passed away in January. We didn’t start the year well as a country but hopefully the rest of the year 2013 will be better.

Also, I wish success to all Turkish teams, starting with Galatasaray-the team that we set our hearts’ on, in the international cups they will play at.

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