“I’m not going to beat about the bush mate”

I wanted to make my first proper post something that would catch your attention, when I thought about it I realised this is actually one of the worst parts of managing a team and maybe something that isn’t given a lot of thought unless your actually having to do it yourself. Giving someone the dreaded phone call the night before a game…

I usually have my team in mind from the following weeks game and if they perform at training then I will know they will be in the 11 come Saturday. The next job is choosing five subs for the bench. This is when the big decisions come in because choosing a team to start the match is usually more than easy. There are so many factors to take into consideration as a manager that players don’t even think about or want to hear about for that matter.

It’s easy to say if you weren’t at training you won’t be in the squad but the reality for most teams is that players work shifts, have kids, needy partners or other commitments away from their club. You do begin to see through the excuses though, especially when it’s the same players saying the same poor reasons. I always have a few of my trusted players who let me know exactly why certain others didn’t turn up! Either that or I use their own social media to let them know that I saw that they were watching a Champions League game when they were supposedly at their Grannies wake or that their wife checked them into IKEA for a “wee wander” when he told me that he wasn’t feeling well.

Other factors to consider are was he there last week, do I need someone in that position, would I put him on, when did he last train, is he on form, and how will he react. You may wonder about the strength of my character with that last one but it really does come down to that sometimes. I admit that I have left someone in a squad because I knew that leaving him out would result in the toys being thrown from the pram and him no doubt quitting the team. A manager and a club don’t need players with that type of attitude but when you throw into the mix that his best mate who is your top scorer or his brother are in your team and would be influenced to leave with him then you really are in dangerous territory. Or he could be the guy with the contact with the kit supplier that gets you a huge discount. It’s a fickle job and sometimes there really is no right answer in doing what is best for the team.

Players aren’t interested that your trying to win a game. They don’t want to hear that your right back played a blinder last week while the other one was on holiday. The modern day player is all about himself these days. If he’s not playing then he doesn’t care about your reasons. You do however get a total gem of a player on occasion that already knows the phone call is coming for whatever reason and stops you mid call before you can get it out to tell you that he knew he wouldn’t be included and he will see you in the morning at the game. These guys are worth their weight in gold and if you have a player like that, do your best to keep him. That kind of attitude usually meant that I would go out my way next time to make sure he wasn’t left out purely based on the fact that we would still come and support the guys who were playing. These guys are the real team players and there aren’t many of them around now.

My total pet hate of football and something that I always deal with strongly is a player being included in the squad when others have been left out and then going out on a Friday night bender and missing the game. There is no chance in hell of the guy you phoned the night before stepping up to play because as soon as you phone him he suddenly has a million things to do on the Saturday as soon as you have hung up. These Friday night booze bags can sometimes destroy morale and the credibility of a manager and everyone should be wary of them.

The last point I want to make for now is the manner of leaving someone out. I see text messages as a cop out. The best way is for a face to face however this is almost impossible at amateur level on a Friday night so the next best thing is to phone them and do it. This has two affects the first being that the player can gauge how sincere you are and hear it from your mouth and not misjudge the wording in a text, and it also lets you hear the players first reaction to the decision without him having the opportunity to ponder it over before replying. It really is a horrible thing to do but unfortunately it’s part of the role we have taken on.

Nobody comes to tell you that you made the right decision but there will be a few who will say you made the wrong one. Sometimes it’s best as a manager to keep your counsel because after all your are the only one with all the knowledge and the one holding all the aces, always.

Good luck in the weekends games

The Gaffer

5 thoughts on ““I’m not going to beat about the bush mate”

  1. I am so glad I discovered this Blog and will most definitely be keeping up with it every week! I have resonated with pretty much every part of every post so far. I am one of these guys you mentioned in your opening piece, a guy who literally does everything at their Club, Manager, Coach, Secretary, Social Convener, Treasurer, the whole shooting match. I run a small club, its my hobby, my passion, it pretty much is a second job, it takes up my whole life and I sacrifice a lot, luckily I have a Wife and Children who are probably more supportive than most in the same situation, they have to share in the rollercoaster of emotions I have every week, they have to listen to my moans, my groans and the agony of the worst part of the job which is telling boys they aren’t going to play that week or at all. I could not resonate more with your comments on the criteria that is applied in making your decisions on who to select because I apply the exact same criteria. If only the players and even some Assistant Managers/Committee could understand this but as you say they live in their own little bubble and cannot see past their own selves, we all have the same passion and we all entitled to our own opinions but no one really ever knows how hard it actually is until you have to do it yourself. One season I had to take a little break due to the effect that it was having on my health, it was ruining my life and I was beset by paranoia, delusions, lack of self belief because I was letting certain things get to me, namely cliques and the influence of others, I believed I was being mocked every time I spoke in the dressing room or in training and that things were going on behind my back so I took a break, let the people who thought they could do better take over whilst I decided what I wanted to do, I think it is easy to guess how it went . I have only been doing this a few years but already I can see a difference and its not a good one either, Players are more selfish and less committed, they just want to turn up for training and actually play, they don’t want to put any form of work in or to try and improve and then they just want to turn up at the games and play, warm ups are lacklustre and the real desire just isn’t there. What gets to me most is the lack of passion in the dressing room, my senior players point out that not everyone is a shouter or a chest pumper, heck I know that but is it a little too much to ask that they show some passion before the game by showing they are up for it? When I started playing at this level the roof would be raised off the room but these days I do not see it much. It is the same off the field with my particular club, in years gone by would never be enough nights out, practically one every week but these days we are lucky if we even get one at the end of the season, people just show no interest and make up all the excuses under the sun forgetting that a lot of time and effort goes into providing everything they get given from the Club, especially a small one run by not even a handful of people. It is the same with Kit. For a small club I have always tried to model ourselves as a “Professional” Outfit, we provide practically everything you could dream of, more than some Junior Clubs ( no we dont pay players ha ha) but to see more and more Players show up to games not wearing Kit that we worked hard to get, same in training, it makes my heart sink. Of course we have tried to implement fine system but it just falls on deaf ears at times as I am essentially a 1 man band and have enough to do on a match and training day that these things fall by the way side. I say every week win lose or draw that this is me at the end of the season, this is the time to end the story, try something new, buy a season ticket somewhere but the problem is this isn’t just a hobby, its not a job but it is just pure unadulterated passion and love for the game that even in the darkest moments and times you just cannot help to stay away from. Thanks again for your Blog, it really gives me heart to know I am not the only one who ever feels this way every weekend.

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    1. Paul

      Many thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you have went into so much detail regarding the blog as this was my whole intention of starting it up. I wanted the players to see things from our side and I wanted fellow managers to know that they aren’t alone and maybe pass on some experience of my own. It’s a horrible job to do but if it wasn’t for guys like us clubs and leagues would fall by the way side. When your team wins a trophy there really is no better feeling than knowing that you pulled it all together. As you say we don’t do it for the appreciation we do it because winning is the best drug in the world.

      Keep at it!

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      1. Reading your blogs so far mate, and been laughing all the way saying, yup that’s me. That’s me, that’s me to.

        Sometimes I sit in the house, in bed. Even on the pan. Wondering why on earth do I do this. But also wonder what would I do, or what did I do before it. Keep up the good work.

        Stevie.

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      2. Thanks Stevie. I’ve spoke to so many guys like you and so many players with no concept of what we do that I thought I’m just going to get all of this out of my system on behalf of us all.

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      3. Definitely mate. Saw you where looking for a guest blogger, I’m a manager in your shoes. Let me know if I can help.

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