Goodbye, Bryan

A few books have actually made a tangible contribution to my life. John Updike’s Rabbit series made me appreciate that I wasn’t the only idiot in the world and set in motion some quite important events for me.

But well before that it was “The Silence of the Lambs” that really shaped my life.

I once went on a school trip to Scotland and took the book with me. On this trip a number of curious things happened to me and I won’t go into them here, but the takeout is that I read Silence of the Lambs and decided I liked the idea of becoming a serial killer hunter like Jack Graham and his FBI people.

This lead to the discovery of psychology as a thing. I went to the University of Surrey where I learned all about psychology. I didn’t become an offender profiler at all in the end but I did meet the girl who would go on to be the mother of my children so that was good. All because of the Silence of the Lambs.

So? Well at the end of the book Hannibal Lecter calls Clarice Starling:

Dr. Lecter: [on telephone] Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?
Clarice: Dr. Lecter?
Dr. Lecter: Don’t bother with a trace, I won’t be on long enough.
Clarice: Where are you?
Dr. Lecter: I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world’s more interesting with you in it. So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy.
Clarice: You know I can’t make that promise.
Dr. Lecter: I do wish we could chat longer, but … [eyeing Dr. Chilton] I’m having an old friend for dinner. Bye.
Clarice: Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? …

That’s what I felt about Bryan Ruiz. The world’s more interesting with him in it. Ruiz was a lot better than given credit for but let’s face it, the vulnerability was part of the appeal. You don’t worry about John Arne Riise; you don’t empathise with Giorgios Karagounis; you don’t worry whether Scott Parker’s feeling okay today. But when Bryan Ruiz plays for Fulham I’m desperate for him to do well. You see that face, a mixture of shock and innocence, and you worry that he’s not quite cut out for the hurly burly neanderthalism of English football.


The game wore him down. In the end he worked hard – people said he didn’t but he did – just not efficiently. Ruiz’s answer to not being in the game was to run around in big loping circles, which just served to keep him on the periphery. He didn’t have the confidence to stand there, to let the game come to him.

His legacy at Fulham will be those goals. He scored but a handful, and all but one I think were beauties. That chip against Everton when he looked up and perceived a gap over a goalkeeper who was more or less on his line. That scoop against Bolton when the obvious thing to do was certainly not to scoop the ball 20 feet in the air when clean through. The smash against Reading when the ball went from under his feet outside the box to the top corner before anyone knew what was going on, and that bounteous curler against Cardiff when he saw the top corner and potted the ball into it from distance.

Otherwise there were lots of nifty throughballs to Clint Dempsey and lots of unfortunate incidents when he didn’t quite work out what he was going to do with the ball next (he really had no business in his own half).

So yes, bummer that he’s been jettisoned. In his place may come John Heitinga of Holland and Everton, which would be a bit like replacing Miles Davis on the record player with the Sex Pistols, but whatever.


15 thoughts on “Goodbye, Bryan

  1. I share some of your frustration, but by and large he became less effective season by season instead of the opposite. My tolerance finally expired this season at Burton Albion where he *didn’t* have prem defenders to cope with, *was* being played centrally behind a striker (admittedly D.Bent), and was trying — but still got nowhere. Having missed the Cardiff match, hence that goal, I saw nothing after that to cause reconsideration. Good luck to him in La Liga. He clearly has talent and seems a good person, but some things just aren’t meant to be.

      1. Forgot to complain about your comparison with Miles Davis, prime example of, among many other things, adaptability. All through his career Miles kept adapting to (and creating) new circumstances, constantly reinventing what he had to offer. To excess, some would say. Not an accusation to throw at Bryan!

          1. Miles was a strong adventurous leader, too. You are right, but I was just thinking about the tonality of it all. Don’t let Mr Gilroy know what I’ve done.

            1. The converse view of Miles is that he kept ditching what he was good at albeit coming up with other things at which he excelled. Until Bitches Brew,

              Ruiz could have been handled better by a manager who knew why he bought him and how he wanted him to play. As it is he was constantly being played in different positions and roles and he doesn’t seem to have had a strong enough mentality to have coped. He just got confused.

              I absolutely agree that lack of effort was never the issue. He needs a fresh start and, sadly, we won’t miss the Ruiz we had. The Ruiz we might have had though is a different issue.

              1. “Ruiz could have been handled better by a manager who knew why he bought him and how he wanted him to play. As it is he was constantly being played in different positions and roles and he doesn’t seem to have had a strong enough mentality to have coped. He just got confused.”

                I posted this just now on TIFF, which explains why I no longer buy into the misused line of analysis:

                “Until Rene took over I was convinced, like many on here, that Ruiz was a truly high quality player that was misused. However, having read about what Rene has done for the careers of attacking talent and seen what he has done to Taarabt, I can only conclude, if Ruiz is sent off on loan, that he actually doesn’t have the quality to truly succeed in England. If he had the talent we surely wouldn’t ne sending him off ON LOAN during a relegation battle. With this one, I’m certain that Rene knows best.”

  2. This is an excellent insight: “Ruiz’s answer to not being in the game was to run around in big loping circles, which just served to keep him on the periphery.”
    I still love Ruiz. I have his face on a cult zero shirt (which people occasionally mistake as a picture of myself, which is curious, since we share little except slightly shaggy hair). In the final analysis, I believe he is a very good player who was not right for the club, and maybe even for this league. Most Fulham fans haven’t seen him play with his national team, where he looks a different player. Ruiz needs motion from the players around him to distract defenses; Fulham rarely had that, especially in the last calendar year. He’s excellent on the counter, and set up goals that way (including a stellar one for Kacaniklic last year), but his defensive liabilities aren’t a good fit for a team that wants to commit to that strategy. And there’s no place for him in Rene’s preferred scheme (too slow for the wing, not enough of a two-way player for the midfield trio), unless we played him up top in the Berbatov role, which I regret that we never tried.
    So best of luck, Bryan. May your Starbucks cup always be full.

  3. But I DO empathise with Karagounis. He has SUCH a shit chant. Much prefer “because yoooou’re Giorgios!” which I have heard a few times but “on the piss” just isn’t right when being subbed after a battling performance…

  4. I’ll always think we kinda failed him [well, MJ did]. Like ct says, he’s a particular sort of player who was not given the opportunity to shine, and then the confidence drained away. So, let’s hope he gets back to his best at Betis and returns to prove his detractors wrong.

  5. In some ways I applaud the board giving Jol 13 PL games this season to improve the lot of the side – it gave him an opportunity to organise the players, take out random incidents & freak goals out of the equation and assess properly the merits of the team performances. However, it was also pretty clear 4 or 5 games into the season that it was looking bleak, and that the issues of the previous season weren’t addressed at all.

    The flip of giving him that time might just have been at the cost to a player like Ruiz. His confidence almost had an inverse ‘half life’, in that it appeared to drain doubly each week we were struggling – fans on his back, unable to provide a spark, feeling harried and struggling to provide value for his team mates. If anything, to me he looked like the player on the team who would’ve most benefited from an organised, Hodgson-esque approach – i.e. Your Job is to do x,y & z. That’s it. And with a clear understanding of his role, am sure he could’ve produced much classier, integrated performances that could’ve brought the best out of his undeniable talent….there’s no doubt he can be a very special footballer on his day.

    Had the board been quicker, and had Rene come in earlier in the season, with more time & perhaps less pressure for immediate results, you feel he could still have blossomed. As it were, by the time Rene has taken over, we’re in a big old hole with several ‘must wins’ on the horizon – Villa, Norwich or Hull, West Ham and one final one in this run against Sunderland.

    I remember a talk by Roy Hodgson about what he did when he took over at Fulham – he looked at the playing squad, counted there were around 50 professionals and took the first fortnight to workout which ones he wanted – both from an ability and an attitude perspective. He then took those 18 key professionals, and moulded his shape & worked with those professionals day in, day out to try to drive improved performance through his organisation. You would imagine that Rene is doing something similar, and perhaps just doesn’t feel he quite has the time & space to breath confidence back into Bryan, despite the fact he clearly is more capable with a football than the majority of players within the squad.

    We’ll still watch his career with interest, and you never quite know what might happen in the future.

      1. Hi Rich – am afraid I don’t have a link, it was an hour interview hosted by John Inverdale that he gave at a League Managers Association event back in March 2009, right after we beat Utd 2-0. So I’m mostly going from memory, but everything he spoke of made enormous sense. When asked how we beat Utd, he said: “Well, at OT earlier in the season I tried 4-5-1 against them with Bobby up front – that didn’t work, he was too isolated – we couldn’t get out our half. So the first thing I learned was we’ll only have a chance to win if we have support for Bobby. In the cup game at home, we tried 4-4-2 & a quick pressing game – that didn’t work, the centre halves passed the ball behind our pressing midfield to Tevez & Rooney who operated in the space between the middle & our defence and killed us quickly in that game. So I learned in that game that we can’t go too gung ho in pressing them. So for the home game, we tried 4-4-2, but would keep our shape and have AJ & Bobby work as a pair to press the ball across the defence to the full back, and then press the full back. The full backs ended up presentuns us with the ball back a lot, which we could capitalise on. And of course Scholes red card was unfortunate, but made it much easier for us.”

  6. Looks like Real Betis has improved it’s chances of avoiding relegation, same can’t be said about Fulham. All in all, BPL was not a good fit for Ruiz, he’s not the first talented player this has happened to (Think Diego Forlan, Carlos Vela, what’s happening to Soldado at Spurs now). Time will tell, interesting to see Bryan Ruiz v. England in that last group match in Brazil.

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