"Fener Cannot Win The Title This Year"Commentary • Author: Özgür R. Nazilli • Sunday, November 23, 2008
The title of this article is in quotation marks, and there is a reason for it. That is a direct quote from Rıdvan Dilmen, one of the most respected sports commentators of the Turkish football world, and an ex-Fenerbahçe player. So is it true? Should Fenerbahçe really admit defeat? Is everything in vain?
First I should shortly sum up Dilmen's arguments: "Fenerbahçe cannot win the title this year. I am certain of this. [...] Fener played like a mediocre Anatolian team against Ankaragücü. They aimed to defend well, and try to score with long passes to Guiza. [...] This is the classic strategy of an ordinary team from the Turkish League, they stay mostly in defense and hope to score a goal solely with long passes to their speedy strikers. Fenerbahçe came across as a very average team in this game. [...] It is not possible for Fenerbahce to be a title contender in the long run."
Grim words indeed. Seeing how Rıdvan Dilmen is a fan favorite amongst the Fenerbahce supporters, these words must have hit very close to home for many. So, is he right? Is Fenerbahçe done for this season?
Rıdvan Dilmen was an astonishing striker in his time, and had it not been for his injuries, he could have become a world-class player. When he became a commentator, he proved to many that he could do as well in this new position as he did back when he was an active striker. His measured words, usually unbiased opinions and quality analyses make him a well-respected commentator, at a time when almost all the others are hated by hundreds of thousands of people. (Please refer back to the "bikini incident" of Mr. Çakar, and you will see what I mean) It is generally agreed that Dilmen has a positive view of Fenerbahçe at least, and most would say that he is an open fan of the Canaries. However, this has not stopped him from criticizing Fener time and time again. He used to criticize Zico heavily last year, and now, he has chosen Aragones as his main target. It would be cheap to say that Dilmen is just trying to make the Fener managers look bad, even though he has bad memories associated with that position. (for those of you who don't remember, Dilmen took on the position a couple of years back but lasted only a few weeks, and was promptly fired) Also, it is true that the team is currently underachieving, especially considering the value of the squad.
Despite all of these, no one, and I mean no one, can say that Fenerbahçe is out of the title race for good this early on in the season. Only about a third of the season is behind us, and there are many more games to be played before anyone can even come close to making an educated guess about this year's winner. It is absurd to say that Fenerbahçe, one of two teams with the most championships in the Turkish League, is out before even the first half of the season is over. Mind you, this is the team that closed an 11 (eleven!) point gap and won the title a few years back. This is the team that destroyed the likes of Inter, Sevilla and CSKA Moscow, and advanced to the quarter finals of the Champions League. This is the team that has had (and still has) arguably the best stars to ever play in Turkey. Alex, Roberto Carlos, Semih, Emre... Which team in our league would not jump on the opportunity to sign any one of these players if we were to let them go today?
I agree with Rıdvan Dilmen: Fenerbahçe players need to get their acts together, and do so fast. Millions of fans have very high expectations of them, and they owe it to every one of those fans to do their utmost for the Turkish title. Even though things are looking tough, it is far from over.
So long as Fenerbahçe can put eleven players on the pitch, the Canaries will continue to be one of the strongest title contenders. No game performance, and especially no commentator, can change this fact.