Jose Holebas, a man who has ‘Don’t Care’ tattooed across his knuckles, seemed nonplussed about the quality and significance of his match-winning strike yesterday, claiming, in true professional footballer fashion, it was more important the team won than doubling his goal tally. But, in one of his less broody moments, he will surely be proud as punch deep down.
The wing-back announced his international retirement in the week so he could focus on his club career and boy did he do that yesterday, mixing technique and power to swerve a long-range shot past Victor Valdes, who has kept goal for Barcelona. It was different in nature to his one against Inter Milan but no less impressive.
“I have a couple of goals like that but the win is more important than the goal,” he told the club website. “It was a good shot; I think it was maybe a bit deflected, I don’t know. But I don’t really care who scores the goals as long as the team wins.”
His wife certainly enjoyed it.
Like at West Ham, the fact Holebas was in such an advanced position to shoot says a lot about the attacking ambition of the head coach. The wing-backs do more attacking than defending under his watch “I was pressing really high and I just had the option to shoot and it went in,” said Holebas.
Mazzarri knows Holebas has it in his locker to produce goals like, particularly when the head coach encourages him to play to his attacking instincts. “I have to say the truth that every player who has played left or right wing under my management have always scored many goals,” he said. “He’s a player that has a lot of technical skills and he can do even better.”
Sebastian Prodl will grab less headlines than Holebas but his assured performance at the heart of the defence underpinned the first clean sheet of the season. The Austrian had a good view of the goal. “What a goal,” he said. “I think this goal deserves to be the winning goal. We know he’s capable of good shots and we’re happy that he scored.”
Chris Sutton, the former Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers striker, gets plenty of stick for his moribund viewpoint but even he was out of his seat at the Riverside when Holebas let fly.
“The game need something like that to bring it to life,” he said on BBC Radio 5 live. “He’s 22 yards out and thumps it into the near corner. The pace is too much for Valdes. It was a tremendous strike.”