Guti leaves Besiktas… English football, it’s time to show how far you’ve come
Excellent news – Spanish hero Guti has had his contract at Besiktas torn up after allegedly starting a row with the coaching staff. We make that one very good playmaker, good for another season at least, available on a free transfer. Will English football pick him up? Nothing would be more lovely, but sadly it’s extremely unlikely.
Guti would be derided in England if he moved to these shores as ‘all that’s wrong with modern football.’ Stroppiness, idleness, being a ‘luxury player’, occasionally doing daft things for no apparent reason, sexual ambiguity. Society’s great ills.
In fact, no kind of player has been more left behind by Modern Football than Guti. He couldn’t be trusted to give appropriately sterile answers to a press conference. He couldn’t be trusted to work hard, and he couldn’t be trusted to always try and do the most clinical, effective action without thought for how cool he looked in doing it. He could be trusted to get people watching, could be trusted to excite, but that sort of thing doesn’t matter anymore. Hell, even genuine sexual ambiguity counts as exciting in the world of football.
Guti was hewn from the same rock as Ronaldo – a player with whom he would become Close Friends at Real Madrid, which makes sense. If they could find a third member to that boys night out (lock up your daughters) then we may well have found a new species. But Ronaldo had Ferguson as an early influence to shape him into the superhuman, ruthless conqueror he is now. Guti just had the glitz, glamour, and decadence of Galactico-era Madrid, and became the player he is today. In a different world, he could’ve been Xavi. In terms of sheer imagination, he’s probably even better. But that utter commitment and effectiveness was never there.
And that’s why he’s a throwback. We might also imagine that Messi was from the same stock as Garrincha, sharing similar playing styles in their youth. But Messi doesn’t have that same flair – of genuinely doing things for the sheer fun and excitement, without prioritising effectiveness. (As an aside, George Best could be our appropriately-shaggy missing link here.) Garrincha never changed, and Messi did, and became ten times the player. But ‘flair’? No. He’s just brutally effective.
And it’s that same spirit of old that Guti – the most imaginative player of his generation, make no mistake about it – had, and was ultimately to leave him short of greatness. A luxury player. And what luxury. Guti, you were never as good at winning football matches as them, but you were ten times better to watch.
This feels like an obituary, and although he’s not retired yet, it’s a shame he’ll probably be forgotten. He won’t go up there with the Ballon D’or hall of famers. He’ll go wherever Garrincha, Cantona, and Stanley Matthews went. Some place a lot more fun.