Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On all this talk about the U23 team and critics

On all this talk about the U23 team and critics
by rick olivares

The poor performances of the U-23 national football team has drawn sharp criticism from different quarters that has in turn sparked some debate about “arm chair critics”.

You know it’s like this – just because you criticize that doesn’t mean you are against something or in this case the national team. Blind allegiance is even worse because you are party to the problem of cover ups, excuses, incompetence, and failures.

Now not every bit of criticism may be just, correct, or constructive as some may be totally wrong, off, unwarranted, overboard, or even misinformed. But a person, celebrity, a team should learn how to take the good and the bad. He cannot have it one-way and totally disregard the other. Whenever you put something out there for public consumption then it is subject to conjecture both good and bad.

Quick – the Star Wars prequels also drew criticism from those who thought that it looked too polished, that Jar Jar Binks is one of the worst creations ever and ad infinitum. Dude, I love the prequels but not Jar Jar Binks. Now did George Lucas go out and say, “Screw you bastards. Let’s see you make your own movies.” He didn't, right?

In case you are not reading things right – again -- anything put out there in open to conjecture good and bad (include what I am saying here). And maybe the people involved should know those who criticize also care. After all, you sell tickets, merchandise and so on to us. So it's fair.

I can’t get this “blind allegiance” from the Johnny-come-latelys (how I wish they were like this with the national government instead of trying to topple who whoever is sitting in MalacaƱang every few years).

When we were in Kuwait, sometime during the 60th-70th minute of the match versus Al Azraq, I stood up from the stands behind at the Mohammed Al-Hamad Stadium and yelled for I what I believe was a time to substitute Angel Guirado who was largely ineffective at that point.

After the match, we went to the media room for the post-match press con and one Philippine television journalist asked me why I was angry with Angel and what my beef was with him. I rolled my eyes. Please. If you are going to cover a sport please know the damn sport. It’s not being angry with a person (and why should I be)? The point is I felt that a change was needed to give the team some fresh legs and a spark. Not a sub in the 89th minute. What the F was that all about – are we sending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or Pippo Inzaghi for a late game winner? I can go on about these substitutions but that is not the point. 

Having said that, here is something from someone involved with our national team who pleads for understanding: There are a lot of young players in our team and because of that we pay the price for that inexperience on the field . Except for the second half against Vietnam where they lost it completely after the own-goal of Matthew Hartmann and the team panicked, they didn't play so bad at all. During the second half against Timor Leste they showed glimpses of what they can bring. Now this is a team that needs the chance to grow. They get well along with each other and the spirit is there. That people are disappointed is only normal after the earlier boosts that we had a chance for the semifinals etc. if this was really the target than we should have organized this in a different way. But I wish the PFF would defend this team.

Thank you for this so that we have all sides covered. As I wrote previously, I felt that the U-23 team should have been sent to the Long Teng Cup instead of the senior squad. That's fine but I cannot accept that the target for the team to mature and win is in the 2013 SEA Games. Any time you put on that jersey with "Philippines" or even your school, you play to win. You mean to say that these past few years we sent our national squad to international competitions to get our asses kicked? We must be suckers and masochists for 8-1 or 13-1 beatings. In case you've forgotten, the reason why no national squad was sent to the last SEA Games was because we were deemed not competitive and the money and government support was best given elsewhere for that tournament. So now we are worthy? Instead of head coaches criticizing people who call out the team for coming up short, they might want to take a long hard look and ask, "What program am I running here?" I think everyone deserves the right to know.

More to come….


  1. sir rick, I'll share this on twitter :0

  2. I have to agree, ones level of disappointment is a good indication of how much one cares for something. But then again, disappointment doesn't always translate well in writing— and indeed, even great writing has its demands on the reader's part.

    Looking at all of this behind rose coloured glasses: I believe we football fans are all on the same page— we only want our team to do well. It's just that, some opinions are better expressed than others; and some opinion consumers are more level-headed than others.

    Realistically, though, there are trolls and to paraphrase one of the Internet's cardinal rules: don't feed them. =)

  3. Yup I remember the 90th minute sub of Simon Greatwich , first thing he do in the 90th minute,, get a yellow card,,, tsk tsk tsk. and the unusual placing of players, somewhat hurt the team, come on ? its like david beckham playing at madrid , (not as a winger , but a defensive midfielder????)

  4. I liked this article very much. I hope i can get a chance to talk with you someday for school work.
    "if you are going to cover a sport please know the damn sport".. two thumbs up sir rick!