I’d like to start today with something I heard a man say on the subway yesterday: “Bye, everyone! Stay positive! Test negative!”
Ramble of the Day
Being atop the Bundesliga with a decent-sized cushion means many things. To quickly sum up those things, it probably means that team can beat any other on a given day, and if that team can’t, it would get rather close. That makes it quite a shock when our current version of Bundesliga leaders, Borussia Dortmund, lost 3-0 to the Premier League’s third best team, Tottenham Hotspur last week. Forget just being an unideal situation; it’s probably as close to a crisis as a football team could manage on the pitch.
This isn’t to disrespect Tottenham, of course. They’ve proven at this point that they, too, have the potential to beat any team on a given day, but even that does not explain a 3-0 defeat. There are few things that could; a number of injuries and a bout of the flu probably couldn’t explain it, and neither could the fact that a Tottenham tactical switch took the game from 0-0 at halftime to 3-0 at full time. It has to be something else, but what? Perhaps it was the fact that a number of Dortmund players got haircuts before the match.
The club’s CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke, denied that the haircuts led to his side’s downfall, and you can’t blame him for doing so. How could he admit to such a travesty, such a thing that brings shame upon his club and perhaps the entire city of Dortmund? We’re all aware haircuts are a sensitive matter. Every last one of us gets a haircut with very specific instructions, and then we all spend several days making sure the cut is good. How could it not be the same for professional footballers, who probably only just got standard trims from well respected professionals? Even with a relatively good first half performance, one really only can stop thinking about a haircut for 45 minutes. There hasn’t been science to disprove it, I’m sure.
The honest truth is, haircuts are a secret epidemic in football. In the old days when players hardly warmed up before matches, getting haircuts close to kickoff wasn’t a big deal — no one even thought twice about when they got a haircut, let alone the style. Now, as football teams have started embracing sports science, they’re slowly realizing that haircuts are just as important as diet. It’s as new a discovery as there is, so they’re still working out when is the optimal time to get a haircut, but match day certainly isn’t. A day before might be okay for a boring old league game, but the Champions League? You might have to get it a week in advance.
I’m sure you’ll remember that not a single Tottenham player looked like he had a fresh cut. It obviously worked to their advantage, and it’s becoming hard to prove otherwise. A team like Dortmund might get lucky if the opponent was also silly enough to get haircuts, and then a result can go any way. That was probably the case when Dortmund beat Atlético Madrid 4-0 during the group stage this season, and probably for a few other matches along the way.
It ultimately might be best to ask players to only get haircuts during the offseason. Allowing them to do so otherwise might be allowing players to indulge in themselves more than give everything for the team effort. Who would want such selfish footballers on their team, anyway?
tl;dr: The dangers of a footballer’s haircut.
Links of the Day
Barcelona have extended the contract of manager Ernesto Valverde, keeping him around until 2020.
Australia have hired former assistant Ante Milicic to coach them at the Women’s World Cup.
Today’s longer read: Stuart James interviews Newport County’s Pádraig Amond on playing Manchester City in the FA Cup and being the League Two player with the “weirdest” résumé for The Guardian