Giant Killing 15 – Que Sera Sera

Sera’s troubles highlight one of the tougher aspects of keeping a team good for a lengthy period of time: Managing team chemistry and the inherent competition between those who get the bulk of playing time, and the substitutes.

At first glance, one would not think that Natsuki showing up out of nowhere is a bad thing for ETU. They have a two-game winning streak going, they have settled into a style that works for them and the team as a whole is more confident than ever. Adding Natsuki, someone who clearly has great goal-scoring talent, to the mix seems as if it will make a solid team go up another level or two.

But it’s not always that easy.

You just never know how inserting someone new to a team that already has an identity and established pecking order will work out. (Although I suppose that Natsuki is not technically “new”; most of ETU appears to have played with him before and are familiar with his playing style.) Sometimes a player will fit in seamlessly with a team’s style (which I figure will be the case with Natsuki), and sometimes the fit will be horrible (think Shaq getting traded to the Phoenix Suns and being the absolute opposite player required for their style of play).

Besides that, when someone new comes into the fold, the players who are already there suddenly have to start looking over their shoulders like Sera does. Again, you never know how a player will respond to someone coming in and challenging him for his spot, especially someone young like Sera who has been struggling recently. He could be super competitive and licking his chops at the opportunity to display his talents by holding firm to his spot against a talented challenger, or he could be how he looks right now: Someone absolutely terrified that someone who is better than he is will swoop in and take his spot.

Now, competition on a team is not a bad thing at all. You want your best players to emerge from competition on the team, right? If they can defend themselves against other players who are hungry to prove themselves, then they’re probably going to do pretty well on the field. But who knows how Sera will respond if Natsuki comes in and grabs that starting position with ferocity. Ideally, he would be like, “OH HELL NO” and cling to that spot as tightly as possible, becoming better in the process and improving ETU that much. But he could possibly be traumatized by all this and play like shit if he is relegated to the bench.

I don’t think Sera should be coddled at all; he shouldn’t be a starting forward until he retires simply because he happened to have that spot. If someone comes in who can possibly be better and him and contribute to the team in a more positive way, then he needs to accept that and defend his turf. And if he loses his spot, then he needs to accept his new role on the team, whatever that may be . . . or get better and reclaim his former position.

I’m interested in where this storyline will go. Natsuki’s injury and rehab are brought up so much that the possibility of getting injured again is fairly strong. Will he come in, give Sera a spook and then get injured again? The most boring possibility would probably be Natsuki comes in, does well and Sera gets benched. Who wants to have a bunch of episodes with Sera pissing and moaning about losing his place? We just got over Tsubaki being scared to death of being benched. A redux isn’t needed. I doubt the team dynamic will change much (Tatsumi seems dedicated to the current style of play), but who knows.

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