Hello, this is Scott Wiebe, and today, I'm going to take a shot at Luka Milivojevic.
Long-time listeners of the pod might wonder why; after all, I have always loved Luka. Last year, I even had a Luka Strategy, which consisted of putting him in the first spot on my bench and then watching as, week after week, all of his points -- which at his price provided an incredible...value -- substituted into my lineup. It was a great strategy that led to a mini-league title.
But today, I have to call him out. Why? Because with leadership comes a greater responsibility. Please allow me to explain.
Crystal Palace have a superstar. His name is Wilfried Zaha. Yes, Wilf comes with some baggage. He has a reputation for diving, which, in my opinion, is a little debatable, but whatever.
He's also very outspoken. Recently, he spoke to the media and asked some valid rhetorical questions about why he gets fouled so much and why referees aren't doing more about it.
The statistics back Zaha up. He is one of the most fouled players in the league, and that's not just for this season. This has been going on now for quite some time. It's a shame.
This is not a basketball podcast, but as Americans, we see superstar players get superstar treatment in the NBA. Referees give the benefit of the doubt on foul calls when a superstar is the one getting fouled. Is it right? Not necessarily. But these superstars are so good that you can only stop them by fouling them. Or, at least, that's what the superstar treatment says in an unspoken way.
Wilf is not getting this treatment. Which means that it is time for his Crystal Palace teammates to do something about it. Which leads me back...to Luka.
Luka is the captain. With that role comes a responsibility to stand up for his superstar. When Zaha is fouled, Luka needs to be the first one there. When Zaha is fouled unnecessarily, Luka needs to stand up to the offender.
Of course, I don't mean he needs to do something stupid that will earn him a card. No shoves, no headbutts, no retaliatory kicks. I just mean that he needs to get inside the personal space of the opposing player and deliver a few verbal threats about what will happen the next time his superstar is fouled.
While I'm at it, I'm going to take some light shots at Mamadou Sakho and James MacArthur as well. You two are scary dudes. Why aren't you doing the same thing?
Guess what? If you get in a player's face -- and to reiterate, nothing else -- then you will create a scene. That will set up a scenario where the referee will have to respond the next time Zaha is fouled. Don't do dumb things, but take matters into your own hands as far as the rules will allow. Stand up for your man.
If the media rumors are to be believed, Zaha wanted to leave Palace during the summer for a "bigger club." I would completely understand if the rest of the locker room felt slightly betrayed by Wilf. After all, no one else on that squad has the potential of going to a big-six club.
But guess what, boys? He didn't leave. He's still your guy. You need him. You need him more than any other squad needs a single player. The stats prove that, too.
So start acting like it. And as the captain, it begins with Luka Milivojevic.
Worst case scenario, you help out your superstar for this season, which in turn, helps out your club as a whole.
Best case scenario? Maybe, just maybe...he'll actually want to stay at Crystal Palace.