Bosnia Must Call Up Defensive Reinforcements

Emir Spahic is not going to save our ungrateful asses anymore. Retired from the national team because of his age, because of Safet Susic, because of the media, whatever, it doesn’t matter. He’s gone, and we’re in trouble.

The Bayer Leverkusen centre-back was our undisputed leader on the pitch and our most experienced defender; on the rare occasion that he was substituted off early, what usually followed was a complete loss of defensive organization and confidence on the pitch. For years we simply couldn’t do without him.

To make matters worse, our only reliable left-back Sead Kolasinac (04 Schalke) is injured and ruled out for the first half of our Euro 2016 campaign. His role is currently covered by winger Senad Lulic (SS Lazio) and central midfielder Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim) but both are desperate temporary solutions that cannot last.

Our starting right-back Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg) has been struggling with injuries and at 30 years old it’s clear that his best days are behind him. His replacement is Safet Susic’s pet squirrel known as Avdija Vrsajevic, a player who boasts impressive pace and lttle else. Many want him gone from the squad, but he has managed to stick around, as Alan Moore would put it, with a “herpies like persistence”.

So, just when our backline was starting to look respectable, we lost two crucial pieces of the puzzle and are on the way to losing a third. That leaves us with the three centre-backs Bicakcic (Hoffenheim), Sunjic (Kuban Krasnodar), and Vranjes (Free Agent), and the right-back Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split).

Like I said, we’re in trouble.

It’s obvious that reinforcements are needed but there aren’t lot of options out there for us right now; certainly none as good as Spahic and Kolasinac. There is, however, a handful of defenders we should consider. If nothing else, they may improve our depth.

Gordan Bunoza (Wisla Krakow) (LB/CB)

Bunoza is a 26 year old left-back from Polish club Wisla Krakow. Not a top league by any means but Bunoza has the attributes to play at a higher level and he has been linked with moves to better leagues.

The reality is this: if Kolasinac is not available, we do not have an adequate replacement. At 6 foot 4 inches, Bunoza is a powerful player but possesses surprisingly good pace for his size; while he may not have the same quality as Kolasinac he will at least provide a similar physical presence on the left. In any case, he’s a better option than anyone we have right now.

Once Kolasinac returns, Bunoza could stay on as much needed depth for this problematic position. Bunoza definitely wants the call. You can check out some of his highlights here.

Ivan Martic (Hellas Verona) (RB)

Martic was considered one of the best right-backs in the Swiss league and has recently moved to Serie A. He made his winning debut a few days ago in a 2-1 win over Palermo.

Much like Bunoza at left-back, Martic would provide much needed depth and competition at right-back, and may even prove himself to be first choice considering his competition is Vrsajevic and injury prone Mujdza.

Martic has said he is open to playing for Bosnia and it would be downright foolish not to offer him a chance.

Ervin Zukanovic (Chievo Verona) (CB)

Zukanovic was deeply disappointed to be cut from Bosnia’s World Cup squad but he has made it clear he would still wear the national colours if called upon in the future.

I admit, I’m not Zuka’s biggest fan, mainly because of his lack of pace, but at this point we can’t afford to be picky. He’s a loyal servant and will give us his all. There is no other CB playing in one of the top five leagues that we can call upon. If we begin to play in a more balanced formation and with tactics that actually suit our players–which we should be doing anyway–Zuka’s slow movement won’t be as big of an issue.

It is no coincidence all of our defensive players preform better at their clubs than they do in the national team; Susic insists on playing systems that expose our weaknesses instead of mitigating them.

Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liege) (CB)

The 21 year old 6’3″ centre-back is undoubtedly a big talent but has not completed the necessary paper work to play for Bosnia and he cannot be counted on yet. If our FA has any sense they will do everything in their power to make sure the promising defender’s Bosnian debut comes sooner rather than later. Our options at CB are so slim that losing Arslanagic to Belgium would be catastrophic.

Perhaps in the future, when we have found more than one good defensive midfield option, Muhamed Besic (Everton) can move back to CB, the primary position he played in Germany and Hungary. There are also others to look forward to, such as 19 year old right-back Adis Omerbasic of Schalke, and Ali Suljic, the 17 year old centre back who currently plays for the Chelsea U18s. Promising talents indeed but that’s all they are; we need solutions now, and we must look for the answer elsewhere, and fast.

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Bosnia-Herzegovina: What Happens Now?

Our World Cup adventure is over. Cut short by the naivety, inexperience, and utter incompetence of our soon to be former manager, Safet Susic. As soon as I saw his bizarre and unbalanced lineup, I tweeted my congratulations to our Nigerian opponents. Then I told my father to prepare himself for a loss and early elimination from our first major tournament.

I won’t waste time analyzing Susic’s many unforgivable errors; there is already plenty of that online and there will be plenty more to come. All I will say is that I sincerely hope this bumbling fool will never have anything to do with Bosnian-Herzegovinian football again. The real question is, where do we go from here? How to move forward and best prepare for the Euro 2016 qualifications? That’s all that matters now.

A SERIOUS MANAGER

Our FA will have to make a decision soon. Who is the right man take this team to the next level?

Vahid “Vaha” Halilhodzic is probably the most respected and sensible choice. Vaha has plenty of managerial experience, both in international and club football; he led Ivory Coast and Algeria to the World Cup; won the CAF Champions League with Raja Casablanca; took Lille OSC from the second tier of French football to 3rd place in Ligue 1, and won the Coupe de France with PSG in 2004.

Dusan Bajevic has already been rumored as a replacement for Susic. Bajevic does not have any international experience but has been successful in club football, particularly in Greece. The “Prince from the Neretva” has won the Greek Championship eight times with two different clubs, not to mention his six cup trophies. Bajevic is part of the ‘normalization committee’ created to run the Bosnian FA and save it from FIFA suspension.

Sergej Barbarez is the popular and “patriotic” candidate. The former Bosnian captain made his name in the Bundesliga and was one of the first post-independence footballers to earn legendary status among Bosnian fans. It is undeniable that he was a great leader on the pitch, but it remains to be seen how that would translate to his management career. Barbarez might provide much needed inspiration to the squad and a more modern approach, but his lack of experience makes him a very risky choice.

Slaven Bilic, Meho Kodro, Vladimir Petkovic, Faruk Hadzibegic, Mehmed Bazdarevic, and many other names have been thrown around by fans since our elimination. Most of these are either wrong or unrealistic or unavailable.

I won’t act like I know the perfect choice, because no manager is perfect, but what we need is an experienced professional to instil real discipline into our squad. Most importantly we need a coach with tactical intelligence because that is what we currently lack the most.

My choice is Halilhodzic. I believe he has the qualities we desperately need right now.

THE PLAYERS

After so many years of loyal service, it’s hard to imagine a Bosnian team sheet without the names Spahic and Misimovic. The reality, however, is that they will be gone soon. Spahic will be 35 by Euro 2016, and Misimovic, while still technically gifted, does not have the physical condition to be a starter anymore. Their best years are behind them. We simply can’t rely on them anymore.

Others, like Anel Hadzic, inexplicably appeared in the national team shortly before the World Cup, despite doing nothing to deserve the honor, and need to be removed as soon as possible. Vrsajevic is another example. These players are just not good enough for a team that wants to leave a strong impression at a major tournament.

Promising young talents such as Dino Arslanagic (Standard Liege) and Sanjin Prcic (Sochaux) will fill their spots nicely. Armin Hodzic should be considered as a third choice striker. A serious effort should be made to bring in Branimir Hrgota before we lose him to Sweden or Croatia. Others such as Semir Stilic, Mario Vrancic, Nermin Zolotic, Jasmin Scuk, Emir Dilaver, Eldin Hadzic, and Ermin Zec also deserve a chance. If nothing else, they might prove good enough to improve our depth.

THE NEXT CAPTAIN

With Spahic and Misimovic on their way to retirement, the general expectation is that Dzeko will become the next captain, having already worn the arm band when the two veterans were not available.

Some will brand me a blasphemer but in my opinion Dzeko is not a leader. It’s not that he would be terrible, but there are less moody players who would be more suited for the role — players such as Asmir Begovic. Begovic is a disciplined professional who never seems to lose his cool and preforms with almost inhuman consistency. He will demand the same from his teammates.

My second choice is Pjanic. He has proven he is a genuinely special player who can command the midfield, create chances, score goals both from open play and set pieces, defend, tackle, and everything in between. He could become our Gerrard.

EURO 2016

We have been given a qualifying group from which we must qualify for the final tournament in France. There is no traditional powerhouse team to oppose us. Belgium will be our biggest obstacle and we don’t even have to finish first in order to qualify directly. Failure is not an option. We must learn from our World Cup experience and never again allow ourselves to so cheaply give up everything we have dreamed of for years.

We should never again leave a tournament feeling like we beat ourselves. It is not acceptable that teams who have inferior players have made a better impression than us. Every team loses and so will we, it is inevitable, but how you lose matters. It matters a lot.

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This is the make-or-break moment for Susic and our World Cup campaign

susic_safet

Bosnia-Herzegovina has lost three consecutive friendly matches, and in the last two we haven’t even scored. For an attacking team that earned a reputation for “scoring goals for fun” in the World Cup qualifications, this is worrying. Our latest loss came yesterday in a friendly against Egypt, in front of a large Bosnian crowd who quickly realized what they were witnessing wasn’t worth coming out for.

The loss itself isn’t as important—it is a friendly after all—as is the manner in which we lost. Once again coach Safet Susic has not learned from past tactical mistakes, he has not listened to legitimate criticism, and once again we have put on a truly lethargic and embarrassing display far below what our team is capable of. Most of our starting players play for clubs in the top five leagues, but you wouldn’t know it by today’s performances. We were outplayed by players who mostly play in Egypt. Players who wanted to prove themselves. Players who had a coach with a solid game plan.

TAC.. TICS? I DON’T NEED TACTICS, MY BREATH IS FINE

I would call yesterday’s formation bad, but it’s hard to even know what the formation was; players were running all over the pitch, out of position and getting caught out by the Egyptians on the counter attack. It was just one big mess that was painful to watch. Susic could have done something about this at half time, like any competent manager would, but instead our team came out for the second half with no real tactical changes and played even worse.

Susic continues to face every opponent—be they minnows or world champions—with the same4-4-2 formation and two striker system that has backfired on us almost every time we have faced quality teams. Something has to change soon or we are not going to win any games in Brazil.

Susic refuses to go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation we used with great success in the past. With that formation and Dzeko as the lone striker, Bosnia outplayed France in Paris in the last Euro qualifiers and put on one of our best performances of the last two decades. Certainly the best under Susic. That game eventually ended 1-1 when France equalized with a shady penalty, but it didn’t matter, our players made us proud. Fast forward a few years, and we’re losing 2-0 against Egypt and can’t score at home against Slovakia.

The two new players, Anel Hadzic and Tino-Sven Susic, who were chosen by Susic as the solution to our defensive midfield problem, were useless defensively. If anything, we were more exposed in this friendly than we were in any match in recent memory. Tino can hardly be blamed for his poor defensive display; as Blaz Sliskovic pointed out, he is more an attacking midfielder and not suited for defending. Safet Susic doesn’t seem to understand this. Tino worked hard, wanted to prove himself worthy of the call up, and he may have a place on this team, but not as a defensive midfielder. Hadzic is a patriotic kid who you can’t help but like, but it would be a gross understatement to say that today was not the positive debut we were hoping for. He was a non-factor. I’m sorry to say I was right when I said that he simply does not have the quality to be a starter at the World Cup.

So you can imagine my shock when Susic appeared after the match and said the following:

 There will be those who are angry and disappointed but the competition in our squad has increased, and we have two new players (Hadzic and Tino) who regardless of tonight’s defeat have shown that they can be counted on in the future”.

If it wasn’t for this beard I’m sporting right now, my jaw would have shattered when it hit the floor.

The only player who can cure our defensive midfield headache is Muhamed Besic, a young talent who has already proven himself against quality opposition like Mexico and Brazil. Susic, however, has not shown any signs of calling him up. His neglect of Besic is becoming absurd at this point. I could understand it if we already had other quality players to replace him, but we don’t. We are desperate. Susic doesn’t seem to care.

I should also add that even Sejad Salihovic, whose magnificent recent displays for Hoffenheim saw him listed as one of WhoScored’s top 20 players of the month, and who has been very consistent for his club this season, was absolutely terrible today when Susic got his hands on him. That says a lot. Kolasinac and Lulic were the only players to put in a real shift, with Kolasinac in particular once again showing what a talent he is.

AND THEN IT GOT WORSE

By far the most bizarre moment of the match came in the second half. In the 63rd minute, Susic decided to take out the more active Ibisevic, and leave Dzeko on. Edin was clearly struggling and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say this was one of the worst games he’s ever had for the national team. At one point, Dzeko even went to ground with an injury and asked to be subbed off but Susic did nothing(!?). Turns out he was injured even before the match started and was only supposed to play one half but for whatever reason, Susic changed his mind and forced him to play the full 90.

“I came to the to game injured and still played, which the coach was aware of and we had an agreement that I should only play one half! Why the coach did not substitute me at that point or even when I asked to be taken off from the field, only he knows! Every loss pains me, because I have a winner’s spirit and nobody can deny or change that! I have always played my heart out for the national team and always will in the future”. – Edin Dzeko (SOURCE)

Dzeko is the man who is most of all responsible for taking us to the World Cup, not Susic, and for him to be treated this way is truly unacceptable.

SUSIC’S POST-MATCH COMMENTS, OR, “THE SARAH PALIN OF COACHES”

Susic has proven time and time again that he doesn’t have the slightest clue as to how to instill discipline and inspire the players. In fact he does just the opposite, by spreading an unhealthy atmosphere of negativity and defeatism by making extremely counterproductive public statements. Behold, the great motivator’s latest gem:

…if any of you think I am worried about this loss, you are wrong. This is just one of many friendly games we have lost, and maybe we will lose the next two as well, but I have seen some interesting things which will help me for more important games.”

Baffling. Just baffling. Instead of doing his best to lift everyone’s spirits, he has already announced two new defeats, for games we haven’t even played yet. He has already planted the idea that we will, and probably should, lose the last two friendlies before our first World Cup. He’s not worried though. After every setback Susic assures us and comforts us, tells us everything will be okay, because according to him, he “learns from every loss”. He’s been saying this for years and yet we are still losing winnable games because of the same mistakes. How long exactly does it take him to “learn”?

Many of us are quite seriously beginning to question Susic’s intelligence. One fan called him “the Sarah Palin of coaches”. Sadly, this could not be more accurate. I am not trying to be mean spirited; I am simply stating the cold hard truth that this man might not have the heart or the brains for this job. If he still wants to prove that he is in fact the right man to lead us, he needs to make drastic changes and soon. It’s time to get serious. We’re only a few months away from Brazil. We do not need to be humiliated in our first major tournament.

SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE, NOW, OR WE’RE F#%$*D

Change the formation to the more manageable 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 and put an end to this unorganized circus we saw against Egypt and Argentina. Two strikers against top teams is suicide. It barely worked against Lithuania, it’s not going to work against Nigeria and Argentina.

Leave one striker on the bench so we actually have someone to bring on when we need to, and so both of our strikers aren’t exhausted throughout the entire tournament.

Call up Muhamed Besic. He is the only player who has shown real quality in the defensive midfield position for us. Taking Besic to the World Cup would not only make this team better and more balanced but it would also help his career. This is important because talented youngsters like him are the future of Bosnian football. Same goes for Sanjin Prcic.

Stop making counterproductive statements that weaken us mentally and ensure our defeat before we even step out onto the pitch. Instill real discipline and a fighting spirit into our squad. Give them vision and the belief that they can beat anyone, no matter how unlikely.

Study our opponents like any real coach would. Fans never want to hear their coach say “we didn’t know enough about our opponents”. This is your job. Your job is to spend every moment pondering every detail, no matter how small, that can increase our chances of successes.

Do your job, man.

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Eldin Hadzic deserves a call up to one of Bosnia’s upcoming friendlies

Bosnian left winger Eldin Hadzic

Eldin Hadzic is a twenty two year old left winger who plays for Spanish club Hércules CF.  Eldin was born in Sarajevo but his family was forced to flee Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992 due to the war; his father had been a prisoner of the notorious concentration camp “Manjaca“. They settled in Spain. Eldin signed for Hercules CF in 2004 at the age of 13 after he was noticed by the club’s scouts. In 2010 he  even attracted the attention of Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Unsurprisingly, Eldin has never received a call up for any of our youth teams, even though he expressed his wish to play for Bosnia back in 2010, long before we qualified for the World Cup and became a more attractive option for diaspora players. He is clearly not an opportunist.

The Bosnian national team currently has three left midfielders/wingers at our disposal: Senad Lulic of SS Lazio, Edin Visca of Istanbul BB, and Zoran Kvrzic who plays for HNK Rijeka in the Croatian top flight. Lulic is rightfully the undisputed starter in this position, while Visca is his usual like for like replacement. Kvrzic has only joined recently, making his debut in Bosnia’s recent friendly against Argentina.

So does Eldin deserve a shot in the senior team now? I think he does. If Visca and Kvrzic are good enough to add some depth to our squad, why not Hadzic? He is several years younger than both and his record this season is certainly just as good:

Eldin Hadzic: 7 goals, 2 assists (22 apps, 17 starts) (1406 minutes)
Zoran Kvrzic: 5 goals, 3 assists (21 apps, 14 starts) (1392 minutes)
Edin Visca: 6 goals, 6 assists (27 apps, all starts) (2424 minutes)

What makes Eldin even more attractive is that he can also play as a Center Forward. We currently have only two strikers in our squad–Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) and Vedad Ibisevic (VfL Stuttgart)–and we have yet to solve the problem of finding a third. Eldin is a solid finisher and would mitigate that problem somewhat, adding depth to two positions.

Susic has said that he has not yet chosen all of the players he will take to the World Cup and the decision weighs heavily on his mind. This is the perfect time to experiment and Susic needs to use it. We have nothing to lose from giving Eldin a shot in one of our upcoming friendlies.

Take a look at some of Eldin’s quality finishes (embedding disabled):

Goal against SD Huseca

Goal against Real Madrid Castilla

Goal against Girona FC

Goal against Deportivo Alaves

Goal against Recreativo de Huelva

Goal against UD Las Palmas

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Sorry Safet, you are wrong

Bosnian Sochaux midfielder Sanjin Prcic

Another day another questionable decision and/or illogical unprofessional statement by Safet Susic. Earlier today, one of Bosnia’s top young talents, the 20 year old Sochaux midfielder Sanjin Prcic announced his “retirement” from the Bosnian national team. He is clearly bitter, and I don’t blame him. What brought this decision on is the behavior of national coach Safet Susic, whom I have already criticized at length, and also the U-21 coach Vlado Jagodic.

Prcic already had a bad taste in his mouth after a few incidents with Jagodic while playing for the U-21 team where he felt he was ignored or treated in a humiliating manner, but the final nail in the coffin came when Susic publicly told Bosnian media that Prcic has no hope of playing at the World Cup. He did this over four months before the tournament and destroyed any reason for this young player to hope, work hard, and compete for a spot.

“Realistically, there is no point hoping anymore. I don’t think I deserve to be the only one out of a dozen potential national players  to be publicly written off four months before the World Cup. Maybe it’s not realistic for me to go to Brazil, like some others who entered the team through the back door”. – Sanjin Prcic

Prcic is spot on. There have been several questionable call ups and neglecting of quality players. Susic quickly replied with his typical mix of arrogant nonsense and lies.

“That’s his problem. I call up players who I consider the best. I don’t know why he expected for me to call him up right away, because he only plays for Sochaux from time to time. Besides, I never wrote him off, he is a member of our u-21 team and his time would have come”.

Susic is lying. Here is his earlier statement about Prcic not even being in contention for the World Cup:

“Prcic plays for a weak club which will probably be relegated from Ligue 1, and he still isn’t a starter. I’m not counting on him for Brazil for sure, because I already have Pjanic and Misimovic in his position. Maybe in the next qualifications, but until then he can play for the youth team.”

 Why say this publicly? Why essentially tell a talented loyal player that he has no chance no matter what he does? Susic did not so brutally write off any other player, not even 37 year old Rahimic. His claims about Prcic being in a “weak club” and not playing regularly are absurd. Up until recently, he was still calling up Ibricic,  a player 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 European leagues, and he has played 1517 minutes this season compared to Ibricic’s 1064 minutes. Avdija Vrsajevic has 1659 minutes in all competitions for Croatian club Hajduk Split, and Anel Hadzic has 1826 minutes for Austrian Sturm Graz. 

These are all worse leagues and similar amounts of game time, and players who quite honestly don’t have half the potential that Prcic does. Vrsajevic was somewhat necessary so that decision is understandable, but the others aren’t. Prcic would be a better substitute than Ibricic or Hadzic and his career would receive a huge boost from playing in Brazil, which is important for the future of our national team. If there is room for them, there should be room for Prcic, especially because Misimovic is 31 years old and at the end of his career.

Jagodic and Susic often like to point out how well they collaborate with each other. We saw an example of this “collaboration” when Jagodic had a falling out with talented youngster Muhamed Besic and this resulted in Besic’s complete removal from the senior team, despite his impressive performances. Now Besic doesn’t play for the U-21 or the senior team. He is simply ignored by everyone.

Jagodic and Susic have somehow managed to alienate both of our biggest young talents. To make matters worse, the news of Prcic’s “retirement” comes only one day after another highly rated young player, Swedish born Muamer Tankovic of Fulham FC, decided to play for Sweden over Bosnia.  Swedish national coach Erik Hamren visited Tankovic in Fulham and called him up for Sweden’s next friendly. Susic, as far as we know, did absolutely nothing. Edin Dzeko had to do his job for him. Two of our biggest talents lost in two days, mainly because of a lack of professionalism and real effort on our part.

I hope Prcic will eventually change his mind and come back, perhaps when the national team is in better hands. His bitterness and disappointment are completely understandable, but time heals most wounds. The vast majority of Bosnian fans would love to see him in the senior team.

Susic may be the first manager to take Bosnia-Herzegovina to the World Cup but if he continues sabotaging our future like this, he will stay the only one.

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Two young Bosnian players that would thrive in the English Premier League

Sead Kolasinac (20, LB/CB/DM, FC Schalke 04)

Nicknamed rušilac (“the destroyer”) by Bosnian fans, 20 year old Sead Kolasinac is already acknowledged as one of the best left-backs in the Bundesliga. He’s a starter for one of the top German clubs and he will be going to the World Cup this summer with Bosnia-Herzegovina (he turned down Germany much to the horror of his German fans). That fact alone should make Premier League clubs pay attention. On top of that he is just as competent as a center back (which was his original position) and a defensive midfielder.

The Destroyer possesses more than enough strength and resilience to play in the physically demanding Premier League; even the powerful Didier Drogba, who bullied EPL defenders for years, couldn’t deal with this beast. And if you haven’t seen him play, you might assume a guy like that isn’t very fast but you’d be wrong; Kolasinac kept up with and even outran Arjen Robben on several occasions.

This combination of power and speed, plus his superb marking, makes for a very intense style of defending; his opponents are simply smothered and bullied off the ball most of the time; players exhaust themselves trying to get the hell away from him, to no avail. He just doesn’t know any other way to play, it’s always high energy, high intensity, and relentless determination. Honestly, when I see Kolasinac pursuing a terrified opponent, I think of this.

At such a young age he still has plenty of time to polish his technical abilities as he gains more experience.  His crossing has improved as of late too; this past weekend nobody could stop him as he bulldozed his way through and assisted Farfan for the first goal in Schalke’s 2-1 win over Hannover 96. The performance earned him a MotM award. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be widely recognized as one of the top defenders in Europe in a few years.

So which EPL club would he be best suited for? Naturally as a Liverpool fan I want to put him in red. Aly Cissohko unfortunately hasn’t impressed anyone at left-back and Kolasinac would solve the problem for the foreseeable future. With his impressive ability to disposes players and move forward with blistering speed, he would be perfect for Liverpool’s fast paced counter attacking style.  That’s what my heart says. My head says he would fit in just as well, if not better, into Chelsea. If anyone fits the profile of a typical Mourinho player, it’s Sead Kolasinac: strength, speed, versatility and a fantastic work-rate. Mourinho would turn him into a world class defender.

I’ve already linked to his performances against Galatasary and Bayern Munich, so here is a recent one from an Argentina friendly where he spent most of the match bullying Zabaleta and stopping all attacks on the left.

 

Muhamed Besic (21, CB/DM, Ferencváros)

Besic’s primary position is Center Back but he is also a potent Defensive Midfielder. He started his first match for HSV Hamburg at only age 18 but personal disputes with the manager cut his Bundesliga career short and he is currently playing for Ferencváros in Hungary. By “playing” I mean bossing the fuck out of everyone on the pitch. This year he was voted both Player of the Year and Best Foreign Player in Hungary. Even in a weaker league this is an impressive achievement for a defender, especially one who is only 21 years old. Football Youth Talents listed him as one of the top ten centre backs born in 1992.

After turning down Germany in favor of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Besic made ten appearances for the Bosnian U-21’s and scored two goals, one of which was a real beauty of a volley against Greece. He is also the youngest player to ever play for the Bosnian senior team, a record previously held by Miralem Pjanic. We’re all hoping and praying national coach Safet Susic has the good sense to take Besic to the World Cup this summer.

The great thing about Besic is that despite his youth he already plays like a more experienced player, but because he is so young he still has miles of room for growth. I love his confidence, composure, and a cold blooded no-nonsense style of defending. When he’s prowling around the pitch, dispossessing and tackling players, he resembles a ferocious pitbull. This kid is a gem just waiting to be scooped up by one of the top league clubs.

Transfermarkt lists his value at only 1 million which is one hell of a deal. Lets be honest, if he was German, Spanish or Brazilian he would be worth ten times that amount. Besic was linked with Tottenham and Fulham this winter but naturally I would love to see him at Liverpool. Anfield is a great place for talented young players with high potential and it just so happens that description fits Besic perfectly. But any club would get plenty of bang for their buck if they brought him in.

The first video is of 18 year old Besic playing in a friendly against Mexico in 2011 , and the second is from his 2012/2013 season at Ferencváros.

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Safet Susic may be a legend but he has a job to do and no man is above criticism

safet-susic-bosnia

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.

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