George Dearnaley

Keys to success are basic

2008-09-05 03:55

George Dearnaley

There is no substitute for hard work. No matter what ability you have, it is nothing if you don't work hard at improving it, on getting better and at staying ahead of the competition.

There used to be an advert that said: "Every time you take a break, someone else is training".

The message was simple. Everyone is trying to be better than you, trying to catch up, trying to get ahead, so don't take too many breaks.

Locally, Santos have shot through the ranks and now find themselves challenging for the league title. They still have to catch Ajax and SuperSport, but on current form, they must fancy their chances. They also have to play against both of the teams above them, so they still have a say in their title aspirations.

Hard and uncompromising

Their success is based purely on a team of hard-working individuals who look out for each other. There are no magicians in their team and very few incredibly skilful wizards who can mesmerise the opposition with dazzling footwork.

Their defence is hard and uncompromising with a goalkeeper that does all the basics well. Their midfield is the engine room, with players closing down the opposition, a willingness to run for everything, make tackles, get stuck in, compete and get forward to support the striker when in attack.

Erwin Isaacs has got a chunk of goals this season simply by getting forward from midfield and finishing his chances. Up front, Eleazor Rogers is not the best striker in the world, but he competes in the air, runs for everything and gets on to the end of things in the box. There is no "flash" in this team. Their success is built on honest hard work and team effort - the very basics.

Technical powers

There are some teams who on paper have better players, a lot more flash and a few more wizards, but unfortunately for them, if this ability is not matched with hard work, enthusiasm, perseverance and discipline, the results will not happen.

Hard work is an ingredient that even the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have in abundance. There is no better international example than Steven Gerrard - a player at the peak of his technical powers, at the height of fame, who at times might feel he can cruise through a game. But instead you see a man chasing down lost causes, fighting for possession, tackling back and working as hard as anyone on the field. That is what is needed to be a champion.

Of course hard work alone might not win you any medals as it needs to be matched with some ability, but the saying goes "Hard work will always beat talent, when talent doesn't work hard". Chiefs and Pirates might want to stick this quote on the dressing room door next season!

Tight finish

The season is coming to an end in the next few weeks, and it promises to go down to the wire. There are a number of teams in SA who can still win the league, but in all honesty the winner should come from one of Ajax, SuperSport United or Santos. It would take a colossal effort for all three teams to throw away the chance of a title.

In England, Manchester United lead by three points but with the Champions League a distraction, and some key fixtures in the next few weeks, the door is still open for both Chelsea and Arsenal to claim the title. The Liverpool v Arsenal 'series' of league and European matches provided an interesting insight into the mentality of both coaches.

Both matches at the Emirates have ended in 1-1 draws, so you could argue that Liverpool have the psychological edge going into the return Champions League match, but it would take an absolute fanatic to be convinced that they knew which team was going to go through. I think it will be a 1-1 draw, and then go to penalties. I can't predict who will win it right now, but the team that goes out will be feeling the effects for some time.


I think Chelsea will be too strong at home for Fenerbahce, but I have been wrong before! Fenerbahce are playing some great football and have some very talented players and could spring a surprise. But I would put money on Chelsea to go through.

Barcelona should be strong enough to hold on to their away result, and although not playing well in the league, they have great experience at this stage of the competition. I can't see Schalke 04 surprising them at Camp Nou and keeping them scoreless.

United's 2-0 away win in Rome makes them the odds-on favourites to go through, but the recent 2-2 away draw (against Middlesbrough) in the league, and a slight nervousness that seems to be creeping in to their play means that an early goal by Roma could set the stage for a massive upset.


No matter who you support, the next few weeks will keep us all on the edge of our seats.

Congratulations to Cardiff who will meet Portsmouth in the FA Cup final. If things go according to form, then we should also see Nathi Lions v FC Cape Town in the final of the Nedbank Cup! Although I am hoping that AmaZulu get to the final and win it.

  • George represented South Africa during the 1994 Soccer World Cup qualifiers.

  • Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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