One of the main issues facing the national team is the lack of accountability among players, caused in large part by the lack of leadership.
What is a ship without a captain? An unorganized mess. Well, this analogy can apply to the sports world as well, especially football. What is a team without leadership? The easy answer, a mess.
An example of that is the Macedonian national team. This group has absolutely no leadership. We know the majority of the players on the current team and frankly most of them are followers, not leaders. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s tough to experience success without proven and respected leadership.
There comes a time when players have to hold other players accountable. When someone is “dogging” it, whether at training or in a game, a leader should speak up and demand better. Players don’t want to disappoint other players, so leadership among them can often times be more effective than when coaches try to yell at a player.
From the current Macedonian group, the only vocal guy is Tome Pachovski. He would sometime yell to fire up the team, but that was often not enough. No one else was fiery when it comes to demanding accountability from other players.
Vanche Shikov is the vice-captain, but he is very quiet and unassuming. It is not in his personality to yell and get in the face of others. Unfortunately, that is the case for most of the other players as well.
The player that is actually best equipped to be captain is Arijan Ademi, but his future is very much uncertain after his positive doping test last month. Furthermore, will the Macedonian public accept an ethnic Albanian to captain the national team? Ademi does not speak Macedonian and he’s not as attached to Macedonia as he is with Dinamo Zagreb.
Guys like Ferhan Hasani (Shkendija), Bazhe Ilijoski (Rabotnichki) and Nikola Gligorov (Vardar) serve as captains for their clubs, but they have not shown much leadership at international level. After all, Ilijoski and Gligorov are fringe national team players, while Hasani faces some of the same problems as Ademi. His Macedonian is not very good and he is not as comfortable serving in a leadership role for the national team.
The players that have been recruited over the past year, like Besart Abdurahimi, Leonard Zuta and David Mitov Nilsson, also don’t speak Macedonian, so that doesn’t help the leadership void. Communication is crucial for a leader to rally his troops.
Pachovski retired from the national team after Friday’s game, so what little leadership there was is now gone. Other players, even if uncomfortable, must step up to get control of the locker room. Players should police other players and hold each other accountable. That is something that all good teams have in common.
Weak leadership leads to weak results, and that encourages players to do whatever they want. So, if somebody is unhappy, that toxic attitude infiltrates the whole locker room. It’s contagious like a virus. However, if a strong leader exists, they can confront the unhappy player and demand a shift in attitude, or else. The most important thing has to be the team, not the individual.