Sky’s resident expert in having opinions and saying the things that others won’t, Didi Hamann, took the time last night to provide valuable insight into the difficulties that professional footballers face when retiring from the game and stepping out of the spotlight. The former Liverpool and Germany midfielder was working in his role as a pundit on Sky90, when he gave his view on Dortmund’s performance against Zenit St. Petersburg, and the part that Marco Reus played in the victory. According to BILD, he gave a scathing assessment of Reus’s performance on Tuesday, the standard of his performances generally, and his status as BVB captain. None of this has anything to do with the financial and psychological incentive that Didi has to say stupid things that will inspire loud responses and lots of attention from fans of a big club. It’s the very serious opinion of a very serious person!
Hamann thought that Dortmund played poorly against Zenit St. Petersburg yesterday, but he was particularly disappointed with Reus’s efforts, because he felt it was his responsibility to lift the team when they are struggling. However, Hamann’s issues with Reus’s captaincy were not limited to last night’s performance. He went further:
I don’t understand why they didn’t take the captain’s armband away from him in the summer. The other question is whether I would have even given it to him two years ago!
Not only does Hamann feel that Reus is not fit for the job. He also argued that Dortmund have a real leader waiting in the wings:
With Hummels, you have a brilliant leader who has shown in the past that he can lead teams. That he has leadership qualities, that he can speak out, that he can pull people along.
Clearly Didi isn’t a big fan of Reus’s quiet, ‘lead-by-example’ style of captaincy. If you prefer a loud, chest-thumping leadership style, it makes sense to favor Hummels. But his biggest gripe is less about Reus’s leadership when on the pitch (though he had plenty to say about that), it is with his inability to stay on the pitch:
I can’t just give someone the captain’s armband so that he’s satisfied. Sooner or later they’ll have a problem with him [Reus] if he doesn’t stand in the starting lineup for a longer time.
The final touches to Hamann’s great work was to make the case that Reus isn’t just a bad leader with a tiny, brittle body that is turning to dust before our eyes, he also isn’t that good anyway! Hamann thinks Dortmund are better off without him, thanks to the impressive offensive depth the team possesses:
I think that the Dortmunder are stronger without him [Reus] at the moment. That’s also connected to the fact that Reyna is in good form, that Haaland is in very good form. Brandt played decently, and they have an outstanding player in Sancho.
The real story here is that Didi Hamann has grossly disrespected our baby boy Julian, but since he is a coward and chose to focus on Reus instead, that won’t make the headlines.
Look, there’s some value to what Hamann is saying. A captain should be playing the majority of games, and given his fitness concerns, it is reasonable to doubt Reus’s status, and to question whether he should have been given the armband in the first place. Hamann is also right that Hummels is a good leader, and that Reus faces a lot of competition for a place in the starting lineup. But despite his fitness issues, we continue to see what Reus brings to this team. We have seen him lift BVB’s performances, coming off the bench, several times already this season. While Reus hasn’t been at his best yet, in large part due to the fact he is recovering from a significant injury, it is clear he still has plenty to offer, both as a leader and as a player.
Besides, I didn’t think Reus was that bad yesterday, nor did I think Dortmund played poorly. It was a tough game and Zenit defended really well. I don’t really see any reason for complaints. But then I’m not paid to have outlandish opinions that inspire strong responses, so what would I know?