Many of us, me included, think we are as good or better managers than the ones in charge at our clubs. This has become as much a part of being a fan as wearing a scarf in our team’s colours. We are the Monday morning managers. We can pick the best team, sign the best players, without having the responsibility or accountability for dealing with those players and getting them to win games.
All we see a manager do is pick a team or make substitutions. However we don’t really know or understand how difficult it can be to manager modern day footballers especially in the Premier League or Championship.
One of the phrases so often used by many football fans is “he’s lost the dressing room” when referring to a manager whose team is in a poor run of form. I have to be honest it drives me barmy for a number of reasons and is in my opinion just an excuse.
Firstly it can cover up the real issue which could be that the players are not doing enough, might not be good enough, or do not have the desire or mental strength to turn things around form wise during a bad spell.
It also shifts the responsibility for results squarely onto the shoulders of the manager. Now without the doubt the manager/head coach is accountable for the results but the players are responsible.
However even if a manager does not inspire confidence in the dressing room or players don’t understand what he is trying to do and we have had one or two around these parts then surely the players can still put in a shift rather than down tools.
Players have everything done for them these days including financially rewarding contracts and also mundane things such as sourcing schools, doctors etc. for new players. This is because the manager wants them to only have one focus and that is preparing for and winning the next game.
It is a life you or I would give our right arm for and all that is asked of players is to give 100% every-time you go on the pitch, stick to the game plan, and focus on making good decisions during the ninety minutes.
Every manager during his career, including Sir Alex, Mourinho and Guardiola, will make mistakes in tactics or team selection or substitutions and of course when signing players.
However it seems to me is that when a team wins the players get all the credit and kudos while if it loses then the manager carries the can on his own.
This is why in the modern game most managers spend a lot of time checking out the character of any player irrespective of his technical ability. Managers want players they can trust. Sir Alex Ferguson said that he slept soundly every Friday night because he knew what his team would give him the next day in other words he could trust them when the game kicked off. How many of our managers can say the same about their team apart from possibly Tony Pulis.
If you were a manager would you pick a player who on his day is brilliant but can also on another day be useless in other words to use a football term is flakey? Or would you go for 100% honest players with decent ability where you know that whatever the result they will have given you everything during the game. Players such as Damian Johnson, John Wile, Shaun Teale, Ian Taylor, Robbie Savage, or Dave Edwards who all left the pitch with nothing more to give even if they were not having the best of days form-wise they would still put in a shift.
What managers want is a player with who has both great ability and desire who runs for 90 minutes such as Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Bryan Robson Zinidine Zidane andPatrick Viera to name but a few. Of course in the modern game they are few and far between and cost lots more in transfer fees and wages than most clubs can afford.
That is why, in my opinion, most managers pick players they can trust and often use the “flaky” ones as impact players from the bench.
Today lots of players hide behind their manager when times are tough and yet are all over the TV and media when times are good.
So next time you feel like saying “he’s lost the dressing room” remember that players going through a bad spell of results know that it’s the manager who will get the sack, not them. Chairmen/owners rarely sack managers. Sure they pull the trigger but it’s usually players who get managers sacked.
Can I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Wealthy 2017 and here’s hoping it will be a great year for all our clubs and boy oh boy do we need it.