Earlier today, Bosnian coach Safet Susic answered his critics and denied having any bias or personal interest in his choice of call-ups. This was a response to those of us who accused him of ignoring talented players and calling up mediocre ones who had done nothing to deserve the attention. The most serious accusation is that he is pushing players represented by Germania Sportagentur GmbH, the same agency his brother Sead Susic works for. I myself didn’t make this connection in my previous post, but it’s not hard to see why others did; his two new call-ups are Anel Hadzic of Sturm Graz and Tino-Sven Susic of Hajduk Split — the former is represented by Germania and the latter is actually Sead Susic’s son, which makes him Safet’s nephew.
Whatever Susic’s motives are, the Bosnian team desperately needs a good defensive midfielder and it is painfully obvious to most of us that neither of these two are a satisfactory solution, and that there are better options available — most of whom Susic continues to ignore. Some of his hardcore supporters say we shouldn’t criticize such a legendary player especially since he managed to take us to the World Cup. I agree, qualifying for Brazil was a wonderful accomplishment and one of the happiest days in our country’s history, however, for those people I only have to ask the following:
How can you not criticize a man who actually admits that Anel Hadzic didn’t impress him, but he’s calling him up anyway because he has “no other options” and because he was “recommended by some trustworthy colleges”. No other options!? Muhamed Besic is still waiting for his call-up! Unlike Hadzic, Tino, and Adnan Zahirovic (another client of Germania), the 21 year old Besic has proven himself with several impressive performances for the national team. If Tino is getting a call up because of “his potential”, why isn’t Besic? Another good defensive midfield option is Nemanja Gudelj of AZ Alkmaar. The 22 year old Gudelj was born in Serbia but his family hails from the Herzegovinian town of Trebinje and he has already confirmed he would gladly play for us if we call him up first. He is a superior player to Hadzic in every way and plays in a stronger league. Check out this fantastic volley he scored a few days ago.
How can you not criticize a man who is “asking around” for others to tell him which players to call up instead of spending more of his own time following them and watching their games? Fans have the time to check out and watch all these potential players but the manager doesn’t? This is part of his job for God’s sake. He has a responsibility. Only two days ago the Swedish national coach Erik Harmen went to Fulham to watch 18 year old attacking talent Muamer Tankovic and to convince him to play for Sweden instead of Bosnia. That’s what a manager who cares about the future does. What did we do? We invited Tankovic to watch one of our friendlies next month.
How can you not criticize a man who actually said he didn’t watch the talented young Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac play in the Champions League because he wanted to watch Barcelona instead. Are you fucking serious? The Bosnian team was so desperate that we actually had an attacking midfielder filling in as left-back, and Susic still couldn’t be bothered to watch the highly rated Kolasinac to see if he was the answer to our problem. It’s a miracle that Kolasinac eventually chose Bosnia over Germany, once again thanks to a dedicated fan, not Susic.
How do you not criticize a man who says 20 year old Sochaux midfielder Sanjin Prcic doesn’t deserve a call-up because he “doesn’t play for a good enough club” and “his club will probably be relegated from Ligue 1”, when this same man calls up Senijad Ibricic who doesn’t even play regularly for lowly Erciyesspor which is currently at the very bottom of the Turkish league. Prcic plays for a better club, in one of the top leagues, and he has played 1427 minutes this season compared to Ibricic’s 1009 minutes. Susic says one of the main criteria for a call-up is regular playing time so why is Ibricic getting a call-up and Prcic isn’t? So many of his claims do not match up with his actions.
How do you not criticize a man who says 20 year old center-back Dino Arslanagic of Standard Liège doesn’t deserve a call up because “we already have too many defenders”. What on Earth is Susic talking about? Our defense has always been our greatest weakness. Bosnia has one quality center back and his name is Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen). So who else is Susic talking about? He couldn’t possibly be talking about Ervin Zukanovic who plays for the much weaker KAA Gent in the same league as Arslanagic and only has 872 minutes to his name. Or maybe he means Boris Pandza, who is worth 500,000 euros and has only played 572 minutes for Polish club Gornik Zabrze. Does Susic seriously believe these players are better options than Arslanagic? We’re talking about a highly promising young player who is a starter for the best club in Belgium; a product of the same system as Vincent Kompany and has even been named as his possible replacement in the future. Arslanagic has repeatedly stated that Bosnia-Herzegovina is his first choice. The Bosnian FA is finally in contact with him now, but Susic’s comments are embarrassing, uninformed and totally unprofessional.
A man’s status as a legend cannot shield him from legitimate criticism that he has worked hard to earn. Like all Bosnians, I love and respect Susic as a player but I can’t ignore his flaws as a manager. Those like myself who criticize him only do so because we want Bosnia-Herzegovina to be as strong as possible for our first ever World Cup and because we are tired of losing talented players to other countries because of incompetence and lack of effort. This summer in Brazil will be the most important moment in the history of Bosnian football; a moment Bosnian fans and players alike have been dreaming of our entire lives. Susic deserves part of the credit for making that moment possible, which is why he cannot let it all fall apart now by doing a half-assed job preparing for the biggest stage in football. Susic has a responsibility to muster every atom of passion and effort he can to ensure we step out onto the pitch as strong as we can possibly be, and that means bringing the right squad for the job.