by Peter Cowan
Growing up, most of us are taught to show humility in defeat and that being a “bad loser” is wrong.
In professional sport though, things are a little different.
The great NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said that a bad loser was just a loser and when careers and livelihoods are on the line, I think he has a point.
That’s not to say that any player or coach who shows some magnanimity in defeat should be pilloried, more that I feel failing to turn the other cheek isn’t necessarily a mark of low character.
Hà Nội FC tasted their first home defeat of the season over the weekend as Bình Định came to the capital and secured a convincing 3-0 win, and there were plenty of bad losers on show.
Defender Đỗ Duy Mạnh got himself sent off late on for an elbow on Jamaican forward Jermie Lynch in an obvious sign of a lack of grace in defeat.
Mạnh’s actions were obviously stupid and petulant as he now faces a suspension, but he isn’t the bad loser that inspired this column.
No, that would be his coach, Chun Jae-ho.
According to Zing News, the South Korean strategist had plenty to say after the match, and not much of it was charitable.
When describing the clash between Lynch and Mạnh, Chun said he hoped VAR technology would be brought to Việt Nam soon to help improve refereeing.
If he was referring to the red card alone it was a bit of a ludicrous statement, as replays showed Mạnh’s elbow clearly. If anything, VAR might have rescinded Lynch’s red card, as I’m not sure what he did to get sent off.
Chun also bemoaned the perceived treatment of his club when it comes to refereeing decisions. He complained that when Hà Nội win, people say they “bought the referee” but those same people have nothing to say when close calls go against the capital side.
I won’t engage with the merits of that statement, but the display of sour grapes from Chun certainly is revealing.
After reading comments like that, rival fans and teams are only likely to be more entrenched in their dislike for Hà Nội.
Only winners have haters and Hà Nội are definitely winners, and there’s nothing football fans like more than to kick a winner when their down, just look at the discourse around Manchester United over the past decade.
But while fans of other teams will likely now hold Chun in even more contempt, for me he’s just playing his role to perfection.
Creating motivation for perennial winners can often be a struggle. After all, once you’ve climbed the mountain a few times it’s tough to get the drive to start again from the bottom.
Coaches like Jose Mourinho are masters at creating a bunker mentality and giving their teams a chip on their shoulder, even when they don’t really have a lot to complain about.
So Chun Jae-ho is definitely a bad loser but I have a little more faith he’s a winner after this weekend. VNS