A Love Song For Leo Bonatini


Ah Leo. The amazing things I have in mind to wax lyrical at the idea of everything you do. I grab my roll ups and a steaming cup of tea. I am enraged and full of ideas on what I want to say to you. I slosh the tea on the dining table, I roll a fag ready to wax. Turn on the lap top. It’s fucking updating Windows. I sit and wait. It’s endless as I suspect next door has turned his WiFi off.

Of course who knows the myriad of variables that has suddenly (well, last Christmas) turned up to facilitate your lack of goals scored. Who knows? Who am I to try and work out why you have hit a dry point in the moisture inducing landscape of your football? I am at a loss to try and explain it. My mind wanders when I do.

You came from some strange Egyptian team and burst into life within a Wolves team that was just starting to get their groove on. You had power and intent, started smashing goals in left, right, centre. I may unload all the memes and tropes to explain how physical you are and how intelligent. I could wax lyrical about Nuno teaching you to play a different game now. A holding one maybe, darting around the box pulling defenders here and there as you splash your colours all over the pitch. But now as I watch the Apples fall off the tree outside in the back garden I am thoughtful and I am still in awe of your football.

There have been new faces appearing within the team. Jimmy Jimenez, Benik, Rafa, last season, but on top of that you are faced with other minor aggravations. The crowd are rumbling their discontent. They don’t see what I see, they don’t look upon you with my eyes. What do I see? A man that is finding it hard to impress his personality within the swirling madness of the new additions, the new strategies and the new ethos within the team. That is cool. That is life. Trying to fit in and do what everybody else wants you to do. To have that kind of a herd mentality. To sacrifice the Warrior within for the good of the team. To find yourself learning…but not doing.

Football Leo, is the craziest of things. I watched you last week at Leicester with your new trim and your intent raw and dripping. I see your movement and runs, I see exactly what you see on the pitch with the only difference being the angle of our viewpoints. I watch and I observe what you are trying to say and I see this…

You are thinking too much Leo. Whatever madness you have in your mind as you train and think about another barren goalless appearance is weighing you down. These days without a goal probably plague your thoughts when you are sitting resting. Maybe you think and analyse every pass and every movement until the whole thing becomes a cacophonous swirling noise of lights and sound until you just feel like throwing yourself on the floor and smashing your head off it a few times. That’s cool. That is what we want. At least you ‘feel’ everything we do. At least you have some emotion.

When we played Ajax in our pre season friendly I watched you drive off the car park at Bescot with things on your mind. I didn’t see a powerful striker in that car. I saw a man deep in his own mind. In thought, an internal dialogue about the game and the team. Yourself as well. You are in dialogue with a part of your shadow self. That is the darkness within you. That darkness asks ‘Why am I not scoring goals’ or ‘Maybe it’s because I am not good enough for this team’ or ‘Maybe I should have done this or that’. Soon the dialogue with the shadow Bonatini becomes long conversations when you are sitting alone or driving your car and this aspect of the shadow talk is always negative and always dark.

You see Leo, if we maintain the dialogue with the darker aspect of ourselves we soon start to see that dark personality become more and more dominant. It’s a self feeding system where the shadow Leo starts to become self critical and morose. Because this is the result of Shadow Bonatini. Criticism from outside becomes less of a hindrance and more of a crutch. We wallow in negative criticism because we start to agree with it, to nurture it, because at the end of the day we love it, because we always hate ourselves more than others ever will. In fact I bet, as you find yourself in a goal scoring opportunity, that voice starts to shout and to denigrate, you may become a little confused and unsure. Pass the ball instead? Lay it off for Jimmy? Move the ball back to Ruben? All these thoughts transfer to your physical self. The one standing on the edge of the box. It revels in torturing you with it’s shadowy faint but wilful voice. It affects you physically, it ruins your day, it adds ammunition to those 4 am philosophies we entertain ourselves with when every body else is asleep. How can we expect you to win these matches, to win our wars, when you are at war with yourself?

But there is light at the end of this tunnel Leo. There is always hope. Shadow Leo is at the moment relentless in his warfare. The ball never falls for you, maybe that shot flies off into the crowd. Somebody boos or moans and you hear it, and you agree, you are crap, you shouldn’t be here. But Leo fuck that voice, and fuck that shadow self. The way to beat that voice is to enfold and encompass it. We have a light and a dark to us Leo. It is in everybody. The Shadow has a shadow in many aspects too. Within that darkness in us we have another powerful entity. Warrior Leo. That part of us that has to win, that has to destroy our opponent, that has to score that one important goal. It makes us shrug off the physicality of a defender. It gives us adrenalin when we need it most. It makes our thoughts fast and more agile. It is the nitrous oxide of our survival. This is part of the Shadow us, that when we were primeval, surviving in dark caves in cold winters, that would fight back against the powerful sabre tooth tiger, bear or killer hedgehogs. It is the part of us that bites and scratches, gouges and kicks even though we know we are fighting a much more powerful adversary. It is the Shadow part of us that has made us truly what we are.

Utilising this Warrior aspect is simple. Look into yourself Leo and look at all the nasty and wicked aspects of your personality. The one that finds himself watching gore videos sometimes, maybe finding people who trip up a funny and amusing thing. It’s the part of us that wants to punch the person who has denigrated us. It is the dark violence of survival Leo. It is the dark Leo and you have to stretch out your hands and grab hold of it.

You see Leo. These shadow parts of us are an integral part of what makes us what we are. But it must always be subservient to our needs and our activity. In essence light truly does come from darkness here. We utilise the shadow for the greater good of the whole. So what should you do? Be a bastard Leo. Start to revel in your opponents demise and loss. Enjoy looking at their sad fucking faces as they walk off the pitch in tears. Look at the crowd Leo. Enjoy and bathe in the adulation you receive from the crowd. Fucking feed off it Leo. See our faces twisted in joy, see us tumble over the seats, see us sing our songs, feed off us Leo. For surely there is nothing better than scoring a goal and running up to the South bank, your fist punches badge, you are shouting something lost in the volume of our joy, your team mates surround you. You are the King at that moment Leo. You have grabbed the Tigers balls and ripped them off, you hold them up to the sun and let out a piercing razor sharp animal, primal, scream, you are triumphant and you are a God…for a moment.

How does that feel Leo? How is that moment when you feel the world has stopped? It is beautiful isn’t it? Leo, I think you are a beautiful player, you are an artist. But put down the brush and pick up the sword.



2 thoughts on “A Love Song For Leo Bonatini

  1. Brilliant stuff Mikey.
    I really do think that given our creative options that putting Leo in the place to score is the right thing to do.
    If we were a “one up front” team that struggled to score more than 40 goals a season then taking him out of the team is the right thing to do.
    But we can afford to play him into goal scoring form.
    Leo ain’t the only game in town and that is to Nuno and the team’s credit.