|Quang Hải (left) poses with coach Didier Tholot and the Pau FC's number 19 shirt. — Photo courtesy of Pau FC
By Peter Cowan
I like to think of sport as the most important of the least important things in life.
With apologies to Bill Shankly, football is not life and death, but I do understand eating, sleeping and breathing the game, as we all need that little bit of escapism from the less enjoyable parts of life.
With that in mind, I understand the mania around Nguyễn Quang Hải’s stint in France, but it doesn’t make it any less jarring to see the microscope he’s under.
Việt Nam’s best player has made two appearances for Pau FC in Ligue 2, one as a substitute and one as a starter.
One more appearance will make his spell in Europe the most successful for any Vietnamese player ever, and seeing as he’s been involved in both of Pau’s first two matches, the smart money has him making plenty more appearances.
It’s clear he’s already on the right track to make his mark in Europe, but I don’t think the media microscope is doing Hải any favours.
The breathless reporting of everything he does in France is, frankly, bordering on hysterical. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Hải’s pass completion statistics pop up on my Facebook feed, or how many articles were written about his SofaScore rating from his debut.
Is there another Ligue 2 player having so much content created around them? I would be stunned if there is.
I understand there is a voracious hunger for news and tidbits of information about Hải’s European adventure here in Việt Nam and publications are under pressure to feed the beast. But is it too much to ask for some actual insight instead of meaningless statistics and photo galleries of a failed overhead kick?
Fans would be better entertained and informed by a more considered approach to evaluating Hải’s performances, rather than being drip-fed every little piece of data we can get our hands on.
It would also better serve the player to be given some breathing room.
While Hải has always seemed (deservedly) arrogant enough to be able to ignore most of the media noise, some of it must be seeping in and perhaps impacting his approach to the game.
It’s not the news media’s job to cheerlead for anyone, but it would be naïve to ignore the fact that every Vietnamese journalist and publication is hoping Hải is a success at Pau FC and perhaps at an even higher level.
We should let his performances speak for themselves for once. — VNS