Buyer Beware: Great World Cup Performance Does Not Always Mean Great Club Play

Courtesy Diego M. Valenzuela Flickr

By Ryan Fleming

Managers make mistakes, they’re human. They put in the wrong players, make ill-advised comments and sign a player that they project to be better than he really is. During the World Cup, most, if not all the managers in the world are watching to see who has impressed and has hopes to scoop up those players from clubs the a low cost.

This, though, is a mistake.

The World Cup is a tournament where a player either excels or crumbles under the unbearable weight his country places on his shoulders. Those who perform in the tournament are looked upon with some godlike qualities that often raises these players to immediate celebrity status. Streets are named after them, statues are erected and newspapers – ahem, blogs – won’t stop talking about them.

That is, until they are signed, usually by a high profile team, to keep them at the top or put them right over the edge; yet in reality, they do not perform to the level they are expected to. I won’t say that club games aren’t important. We know that isn’t true. Many players make their living playing within a country on a local stage where the pressure on the players isn’t as severe and noticeable than at the international level.

Players like Jozy Altidore, who both look great and get the job done in international play, have struggled when it comes to their club output. In 28 appearances for Hull City last season, the Altidore had his maturity questioned more frequently than he potted goals. Altidore scored a single goal and literally head-butted his way out of the season after his spat with Sunderland’s Alan Hutton.

The World Cup adds pressure unto the players that is unimaginable. It can bring out the best and the worst of even the world’s most skilled players. When watching the tournament, take what you see with a grain of salt. The best players perform on both levels.

Ryan Fleming is a writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at

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