Team Talks


When I first found myself thrust into managing a football team I quickly discovered that carrying out a team talk in front of my players was probably the most daunting and nerve wracking part of the role. One day I was a player like the rest of the boys and the next I was standing front and centre giving those who had been my peers instruction and the occasional row. I used to get tied up in knots at times knowing exactly what I wanted to say but not quite putting it out as I had envisaged before I stood up. I lost my chain of thought easily and sometimes said things to players that were a bit insensitive or that should have been said in private. I lost a lot of sleep the nights before a match because I ran through the team talk constantly in my head and worried about saying ridiculous things or becoming a bit like David Brent from the tv show The Office.

Fast forward all these years and I still continue to lose sleep the night before a game. Regardless if it’s a cup final or a should win match against the bottom of the league team. For me, a pre match team talk is THE single most important part of the job. If I can execute it properly with the perfect amount of instruction that will be retained by each player without over complicating it, and add to that fluid and fast speech using motivational language, then I can often send my players out with the belief that nobody is going to stand between them and the victory.

The difficult part for us amateur Managers is that our players arrive in high spirits prior to the game with the dressing room banter flowing and high octane music pumping from the team sound system. They are happy to see each other and are enjoying the carry on before the game as they get stripped. With this in mind timing is crucial of when to enter into the dressing room to begin. If I walk in right in the middle of a joke then I can kill the mood or occasionally become the butt of one myself which can lose me my credibility before I have even started.

I always ensure the music is switched off and have everyone sitting down where I can make eye contact. Silence from the players is key so that I can allow strong statements to linger in the air for maximum effect. As I said earlier it’s important to make sure any team or positional instructions are kept brief and clear so as not to avoid confusion. Most of the time these instructions are the same as previous weeks and if I have had the luxury of a settled team then this area takes up little of the preparations. I spend most of my spare time all week prior to a game running over the motivational part of my team talk. In my opinion these words should be the last spoken by a Manager before the players leave the dressing room and nobody else should have a say after the manager is finished, other than to shout out and gee up their team mates. I make the final statement have the most impact as it should be the message in the players heads for the 90 minutes of the game.

I’ve been part of dressing rooms where my manager’s organisation or motivation has not excited me, I haven’t been “brick wall” ready for him, and I have relied on my own personal self motivation to get me prepared. When I became a Manager I had an appreciation that not all players had my own levels of self motivation and they needed that extra lift to get them up for the game to the standard I expected of them. Hence why I place so much importance on my talks and spend so much time planning them. I used all of my experience of having poor Managers as a player to ensure that I never said or did the things they did either before or during a game.

Halftime team talks can be slightly different. Obviously the result has a huge impact on your halftime words and I find it easier to talk when I’m behind at the break rather than ahead. For me it’s usually easier to point to where we can improve or be different and try to plan a comeback than it is to keep playing the same way or hold a lead. Being in front can be tricky, especially if it’s by a few goals as complacency has a tendency to creep in from the players and the Manager so I always try to keep the motivation high and set a challenge for the second half, be it a clean sheet or the next goal.

I think the only real way to qualify if your team talks have had an impact is to gauge the players reactions when they leave the dressing room and to see how they respond on the park in the first ten minutes. I know in myself if what I have said has got across to them or not when they walk out that door and cross the white line. In no way do I think I have cracked it yet and I have probably still got a lot to learn, and maybe one day I’ll have a full nights sleep the night before a game but I really enjoy this side of it as there is no better feeling as a Manager than seeing your words being put into practise by your players on the field.

Sit down and listen in.

The Gaffer

“We have all got work in the morning”


Most amateur clubs don’t have the luxury of having a physiotherapist at their matches or at training nights so the responsibility falls on the coaches or managers to deal with any injuries that players may suffer.

Personally I have no medical knowledge or experience other than treatment that I have received in my playing days but here I am finding myself running onto the park to treat my injured players armed with only a medical bag stocked from Boots the chemist and a lot of guess work. I’ve found myself in situations where I’ve been surrounded by players telling me “put heat spray on that” quickly followed by “nah that needs a cold spray.” To be honest nobody is really sure, you just get the player back on his feet, give him a drink of water and hope that he continue without any further pain. There have been times when the opposition have had a physio in their back room team and credit to these guys, when one of my players has been on the end of a bad tackle they have been straight onto the park to provide care. I suppose that’s the nature of their job and the instinct in them to help someone’s injury. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing more harm than good though when trying to provide my own treatment. I am a qualified first aider, as the rules say each club must have one but a first aid course doesn’t cover a dead leg or a hamstring tear which of course are the type of injuries we are most likely to see.

Ultimately the player has the say on if he can continue or not. If a player tells me he is OK to continue then I’ll take his word for it. If I can see he is struggling then I’ll take him off straight away. I have no doubt that players lie about whether they are in pain or not, especially in big games but without someone’s  expert knowledge what can we do as amateur managers. If I am over cautious I would run out of subs with the amount of knocks and niggles players suffer and if I am under cautious I put my players at risk. It’s a bit of a tightrope and a dangerous one at that.

I’ve used the services of physios before, and still do if I have a player who will be out for a few weeks or longer. It’s actually relatively cheap to send a player for a consultation and use the club funds to cover it. I always make sure I phone the physio afterwards too, to find out how long exactly the player should rest for as it wouldn’t be the first time I was told 2 weeks when the player has been told 6-8 weeks. Guys just want to play, I totally understand that but is it really worth the risk to do serious damage to yourself for a few games of football? To use the age old line “we have all got work in the morning.”

Again this is another issue that comes down to funding and what your club can afford. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea if the associations could tie in a deal with a physio that would see a reduction in price for clubs to send players for treatment. It would be win/win for both in my opinion. The physio would get regular business and the clubs would have a physio that they knew and could trust. Maybe it’s a bit of food for thought for any committee men reading this.

Don’t take the risk

The Gaffer




The Elephant In The Room


“Rule 6. Any club in membership of the Scottish Amateur Football Association must not make any monetary payment to any player or club member beyond their legitimate travelling expenses.”


“Any club in membership of the Scottish Amateur Football Association may provide playing or training kit and equipment as deemed necessary to any player or club member.”


What I am about to say won’t sit well with a lot of people in the higher echelons of the game and it especially won’t sit well with those people to whom the whole blog has been directed at but I feel that this needs to be said.

For long and weary we have debated which clubs pay players and what players take a wage in amateur football. The reality is that this happens across the board almost every week. As the rules state above, it is against the SAFA constitution for member clubs to pay players, it clearly states this. It also gives clubs a get out clause in the event that they are caught. How on earth do you quantify”legitimate travelling expenses” when it comes to cheating the rules. If a club can pay a player £30 a game for example then you could reasonably argue that this money would cover his travelling to training twice a week and to a home or away game. It’s an easy one for a club to argue. The SAFA could never prove that the player in question didn’t travel all the miles required to get to where he had to be for his club. You could get away with paying a player £100 a week if you introduced all manner of nonsense about him doing shuttle runs to pick up players or that he has been staying with his girlfriend in Aberdeen. Prove that he hasn’t!

What this loop hole has done is create an uneven playing field and a lot of resentment towards the clubs with healthy financial backing. Admittedly some teams get a lot of press about giving players back handed payments when they have never actually done this, but there are others who fully exploit it. I have personally been in a car park and seen players being handed money from the Managers wallet, actually standing in a queue waiting for their weekly wage. I’m not talking blue or brown notes either I mean the nice big red ones. Taking the travelling expenses aside here I have no doubt there are clubs that don’t even know they can pay expenses and they are just happy to have quality players and money to attract them. The difficult part is proving it and no player is ever going to come forward and say he was paid and he wants to make a complaint. They know they shouldn’t be doing it and that there is a 99% chance they won’t get caught but they are that driven by success that they don’t even care. I don’t know what is worse though, the  amateur clubs that have to pay people to play for them or the amateur player that takes a wage. If you are that good a player that you deserve a wage then go and challenge yourself and play Junior or Senior football and give the guys who want to play by the rules a fair shot. Equally, If your a club that pays players then sack your manager and maybe get someone in that good players would want to play for anyway. In my opinion the SAFA should remove the travelling expenses rule from the constitution altogether. 

The second rule I have mentioned has again left us all wide open to being the victims of cheating. You are allowed to provide your players with training kit and equipment. This is fair enough on the surface. I make sure my players have the best tracksuits and training strips, polos, bags and wooly hats for winter. We raise our own funds though, and have to beg people for sponsorship, every season we work hard for what we have. Most clubs nowadays are now turning up week in week out looking the part for their matches and it is great to see. The loophole in this rule is that a Manager of a wealthy club can buy a player a £120 pair of boots which is perfectly legit as per the rules. He can then buy him a pair of boots every month of the season after that. Again, perfectly legit. He can also leave the receipt in the box, and that player can take them back to the shop any time he wants and claim his £120 wage for that month. Its that easy to cheat the rules now. We need an overhaul here because this is the reality. I’ve had players turn up to sign for me expecting a payout or a new pair of boots. Is this what our game has now become? Guys that are playing at a good level of Junior football are being attracted to teams in mediocre amateur leagues based purely on money. How can a small club with 18 players, no sponsor and one man running the show even compete with that?

If you have got to this part and haven’t liked what you have read then I suggest you stop here because this section will be a hard read for you.

Roman Abramovich set a trend many years ago for wealthy businessmen investing millions of pounds into football clubs and effectively buying success. Many clubs have followed suit and find themselves flying high with their owners until the money runs out. These clubs, at their peak leave the others in their leagues so far behind that the competition becomes a bit of a joke. A very similar situation can now be seen in the amateur game. Replace Roman Abramovich with the local community drug dealer and replace the £200,000 a week wage with a little bag of white powder and you get my jist. Players are being paid to play with Cocaine. Let that sink in to you for a while. For obvious reasons I won’t say what clubs or what players but I can assure you this is happening. People are using amateur football clubs to launder their grubby money. I don’t know how we can ever stamp it out or raise awareness but it is fast becoming the biggest elephant in the room in amateur football. When I first heard this I was disgusted, I wasn’t surprised to be honest but I was disgusted. I’m just an honest guy trying my best with what football knowledge I have to try and win a league or a couple of cups. I’ve never cheated or broke the rules, never played anyone under a fake name, never paid a player and I make sure I have four corner flags at every home game. I love football and I love winning but how am I supposed to compete with these guys? Seriously, how can my club ever be the best when we can’t attract the best players anymore. Every player I have ever signed has been down to my own man management and skills of persuasion. I have nothing to offer a player other than an opportunity to buy into the vision I have for my club. That’s supposed to be what amateur football is all about is it not?

Play fair

The Gaffer



Another Gaffers View



Taking the opportunity for another guest spot this fellow amateur Manager who is currently working hard in the Strathclyde Saturday Morning League had this to say…


My topic is about coaching courses and to be honest I would say I have had a bee in my bonnet about them for a great number of years.

Growing up in the north of Glasgow playing on the concrete and ash pitches with a ball was my background, no coaching courses to be seen and the best talent was making the grade through school football and youth football. No A B C D certificates in sight and grass root football was flourishing.
Step forward years on and the coaching courses are the “way forward.” Joe from down the road had never liked football or even played but decided I will have some of that, low and behold he has the certificates. Yes, the same ones that Tom, Dick and Harry have! I question this…

Twenty nine years ago I thought of applying for Largs, where coaching courses were the place to go at a price of £500 but changed my mind because money was the obstacle, money, that’s my point.

SFA courses in my opinion are more about the money than the passion, since the outbreak of the courses where you can go to any school, etc nowadays to get these certificates if baffles me that the Tom, Dick and Harry can get certificates and read the manual that all of the Scottish coaches read! See my point?

God didn’t hand the manual to Jim fleeting and say here do it this way and from my knowledge that’s were we have went truly wrong

Where’s the open mindedness from the modern day coach, basic simpleness and using your own tuition.
Do you need certificates to prove your worth on a football pitch as a coach?

Team A Manager and Team B Manager finished there course together for there C badges and play each other on the Saturday. Do you see my point? Lets read the same manual and play the exact same way. As I said before I don’t agree with it. Scottish football has went back the way it’s too structured and freedom of play and passion has gone.
Call me synical but I believe in my own mind when it comes to the game I love.

Another Gaffer

A Coaches View


Following the theme of the blog I am here to offer some opinions from a coaches perspective, again though this is purely my own opinion, you can be as critical or as positive as you like about what I have to say today. Each tone is welcome.

I have seen some fantastically well run football clubs, committee members contributing their own percentage of work in order for the team to become greater than the sum of their parts. This is a typical example of a positive and open minded approach where new ideas and opportunities are explored to their fullest. Coaches can step in and contribute their own amount of work in order to progress and sharpen the team up further. The dark side of Scottish football is still very much alive though, Ricky Sgabria proved that the fundamental problem still remains. A lot of senior people of Scottish football have a closed mind, a preset idea on how football should be played, what attitudes to have and how to conduct themselves.

Style of play is get the ball forward at any cost, a regular word being used is “offloading”

Just recently I observed a training session where there must have been maybe 30 players or so, not a football in sight. Keeping in mind this was not for a small technical practice, this was for a full training session. Physical fitness before ball control. Is this the fundamental problem with Scottish football?

The physical application of a Scottish footballer has become engrained in the national psyche, always lacking in any real technical ability. Modern football however is following a more technical route and has been for quite some time, in terms of coaching there is no reason why this aspect cannot be added to the amateur game, the average age of the footballers in mind wouldn’t be ideal for dramatic development but there is always opportunity to add to a footballers game.

What are your thoughts?

The Coach

“He’s the best player in amateur football”

Pic 4As amateur football players, managers and spectators we don’t half have a tendency for being dramatic in our opinions of each other. As we don’t have the luxury of television footage of our matches (Affinity TV matches excluded) our game is all about opinions and talking about what we have seen in the flesh.

There is a player kicking about at the moment that I won’t name, and for many years he has been regarded as

“the best player in amateur football”

and to be fair to the boy he may well be. I have heard this line time and again come from peoples lips. It’s when you delve a wee bit further into what they have to say that really sums up amateur football and the opinionated nature of the game for me. I had heard this guy’s name a few times and there was always a buzz about his him when he was mentioned, he was scoring loads of goals, playing for a well run club and always in and around the National Select team. After a few people had spoke to me about him I start to ask a bit more about who he was and why he was playing amateur. It wasn’t until I probed further that I began to find out that all these people bumming the boy up had never actually seen him play, ever. They were shouting about this guy being a worldy player when they didn’t even know what he looked like. Don’t get me wrong some people I have spoke to have played with the boy and speak very highly of him but these guys were in the minority. This happens all the time in amateur football, players reputations precede them and their name begins to strike fear into the opposition. How many times do you hear your own players or coaches say that

“(player name) is some player we will need to watch him on Saturday”

or hear your mates say

“if (player name) is playing against you they will pump you.”

I never pay any attention to these comments nowadays. These players probably don’t believe the hype surrounding them so why should I.

Opinions on players is one thing but opinions on other teams is a whole different ball game. I always try and get out to watch opposition teams, especially in the National competitions when the team we have been drawn against maybe isn’t in our association. The alternative to doing that is to ask around to find out what the team is like. I have heard some crackers when I have done this. Every season without fail someone will tell you

“they are in a false league position because they got put out all the cups and have played more games than us”

or even better

“they are dug meat, they beat us 5-0 last week but our Captain was injured.”

Sometimes I need to stop myself laughing in guy’s faces when I hear these crackers. Do people actually believe that the team that has just hammered them are actually worse than them? I would much rather hear the truth than someone being ridiculous, trying to save a bit of face.

I’ve also found that teams who have been very successful in recent years continue to enjoy great reputations of having quality teams when the truth of the matter is that they are maybe going through transitional periods and are a shadow of the side they once were. It is always interesting to listen to people talk about who will win the Scottish or the regional cups because it is always the same seven or eight teams who keep coming up. People talk about these teams as if they see them every week and will lament about what they will and won’t do this season. When you think about it realistically how can someone who’s team play at 2pm every Saturday possibly be sighted on a team who play in a different league at 2pm in a totally different city. They have maybe seen them play once or twice if they  are lucky and their league results might look good but that’s about all you can base your judgement on.

For the record I’m not saying that people aren’t entitled to their opinions, of course they are and I love to talk about amateur football the same as any of you. I just like to hear the reasoning behind these opinions and see for myself before I make my own mind up. I always take every team I play at face value, it’s only eleven men versus eleven men at the end of the day what could possibly go wrong!

Don’t believe the hype

The Gaffer



Dealing with a clique

imageFirstly let me explain what I mean by a clique when it comes to amateur football. In my experience a clique is a group of usually three or more (normally quite gifted) players who form a team within a team in the dressing room. Typically there is a definite leader of the group who speaks out against the Manager or is the one giving other people the hardest time. Usually cliques form to mask the insecurities or inabilities of the people in them particularly the ring leader who I’ve always found to be the guy in the clique with the least ability.

I have had to deal with a couple of these groups forming in my time in management and on each occasion the pattern of behaviour is almost identical. At first the players concerned find their feet in the team and build a run of games in the starting eleven. This is when they start to feel comfortable and feel that they can express themselves more freely in the dressing room. They start to have a more vocal opinion on incidents and where changes can be made. You usually find that the ringleader in the group identifies those in the team that he can bring round to his way of thinking and begins to manipulate scenarios to his benefit. You see the same group of players sitting next to each other in the dressing room, sharing private jokes and laughing hard at each other as they slag off or try to humiliate other boys in the team. At training they always group together for drills and try to be on the same team in any small sided games. The emphasis at training is always on impressing the other boys in the clique and making a fool of those that are not. Match days are when the worst side comes out. This is when you start to see the group speaking out against the Manager, questioning formations or substitutions. They feel the need to butt in on team talks or to have private team talks with each other on the pitch. They always try to pass to each other and scream at team mates who do not pass to them, or have a go at the non-clique striker for not squaring to the clique striker. If a player from the clique is dropped for a game, members of his group get together to tell him that the manager is in the wrong and that he is a much better player than whoever has replaced him. They fill each other’s head full of nonsense and blow smoke up each other’s arses because none of them wants to be the guy to say “you had a mare last week, that’s why he dropped you.” Other players don’t speak out against them in the team because they would then be speaking out against the group. Maybe this is out of fear or maybe it’s for an easy life, who knows. I also found out that a select group of players were being asked to team nights out that had been arranged by the clique. This then became my job to deal with the issue and try and clear it out of my team to prevent other players becoming disillusioned and potentially moving on.

The first time this happened to me I found it difficult to stamp too much authority for fear of losing the whole group of players involved if I was too heavy handed. I let small issues go believing that it would be better for the good of the team to keep these boys playing for me and hope that it never escalated. I found that what I was doing was becoming more toxic for the team than the havoc wreaked by this group was causing. It got to the stage where I decided enough was enough. I began to randomly drop one or two of them from the squad with little or no reason. I praised the weaker members of the group regularly, especially the ones being bullied by the clique. I played boys that the clique considered to be inferior to them in their positions and I also made a big issue of their slightest mistake when they did play. Ultimately this led to an unhappy group of insecure footballers. By the end of the season we were all scunnered with each other and I never asked them back for another year. I felt that losing five players in one week could have killed our season therefore I decided to keep them on until the close season where I could find a large number of replacements in one go. From the moment of deciding to sort them out I used them and played them at their own game all the while sorting players for the next season to sign for me to play in their positions. I think even now if I got them together and explained what they had been doing to the team they would still deny that it ever happened but years later their team mates would be able to rhyme off the exact members of that clique without even thinking about it.

I learned so much from this experience and how to deal with it moving forward. It’s natural that in a team of 20 odd players some are friendlier with each other than others and associate with each other away from football but when patterns of behaviour appear that will have a detrimental effect on the morale of your squad then you have to step in and deal with it.

I have now put certain measures in place to try and prevent situations like this happening again. On game days I always hang my tops in number order on the pegs in the dressing room so that the players sit exactly where I want them to. I make training competitive in a positional sense, for example both of my right backs will partner up for drills and my centre half’s and strikers and so on. I make sure that there is no other voice after a team talk than the Captain of the team and I always nip any issue anyone has with me in the bud straight away and in full view of the rest of the team. These small details may seem insignificant but in my opinion they have been able to prevent situations like I have spoken of happening to my team again.

Keep in mind though if this ever happens to you that this does not only occur in amateur teams. A lot of professional sides have this issue and there has been evidence of it at Swansea, The England National team and this seasons Chelsea team whereby it ultimately cost Jose Mourinho his job. A blatant clique at Rangers known as Monster Munch Gate also cost Paul le Guen his job when the Captain, Barry Ferguson (clique leader) led others in the group including Kris Boyd, Charlie Adam, Allan McGregor and several others in a player revolt whereby Le Guen suffered the same fate as the former Chelsea Manager. Player power and bad apple cliques can be a problem at any football club at any level. Don’t let it be yours.

Be the boss

The Gaffer

The weekend referee


Everyone has their own way of dealing with referees on match day. I like to think that I’m seen as one of the easier Managers that officials have to deal with in my league. I’ve always been a big believer that no matter what has happened in matches involving this ref in previous games, if you are civil and do what you have to do before the game without issue, then you are both starting with a clean slate. If there is any chance I can get a ref onside before a game though I will take it. I always try to get a laugh with them or ask them if they want a cup of tea before the game and throw them over a bottle of water or juice at halftime or if I am really on the ball speak about their favourite football team and pretend they are mines too. These little details might reduce that straight red to a yellow or be the difference between the ball being over the goal line at the oppositions end. Is it cheating? I don’t think so, being nice to a ref is part and parcel of amateur football for me.

I would never criticise someone who gets out of their bed on a Saturday for £40 a match given the amount of abuse that they take and occasional pressure they are under. I think the money they get isn’t that much when you take into consideration they have to buy their own kit, travel to games as far away as Oban and Dunoon or further and pay postage on all of the reports they must submit every week. If it wasn’t for these guys we couldn’t play football.

I am concerned sometimes to hear of referees getting fed up with the game and leaving it altogether. There is definitely a shortage of good refs at the moment and the leagues should be doing their bit to try and keep the good ones as well as encouraging the young guys through. We could do with a cull of the guys only interested in taking the money. We all know the types, they turn up like a bag of washing wearing all of the old kit, standing in the centre circle the whole match going through the motions having never played football in their life to inspect a park that should never be played on and call the game on at the risk of players gaining injuries. We all have these guys in our associations and if we had more young quality refs we could cut some of these guys loose.

I try to remind my players at every opportunity that referees do this as a hobby, albeit a paid hobby. There is never anything to be gained by abusing a referee or constantly berating his decisions. In any walk of life if you spoke to someone the way some players and spectators speak to our referees there would be a totally different outcome as to what you get on a football park. Sometimes the balance of a match can hang on who pisses of a referee most. I know a few refs on a personal level and socialise with some of them. I was shocked when I first heard one of them say that they had (team name) on Saturday and if (player name) is playing he is on a card as soon as I hear his voice because I can’t stand him. That’s the harsh reality of it. Refs are just normal guys doing a hobby they enjoy on a weekend. As soon as someone sticks their head above the parapet to spoil their enjoyment then its game on for them. I try to hammer that message home to my players regularly but sometimes guys just get caught up in the emotion of it all and can’t help themselves. If a player abuses you on the park then he annoys you, you try your best to beat him or to put a decent tackle in on him or make sure you celebrate your next goal with gusto. It motivates you to win. For referees it’s the same thing. If you are out of order towards him it motivates him to beat you, to give you a showing up and to think twice about giving you the next decision. That might not sit right with some people, especially referees who will tell you that every ref is impartial and every decision is made with a balanced and neutral mind set. That’s not the case at our level though where there are no tv cameras to show replays or pundits to reflect on a poor decision. At amateur level the referee is boss whether we like that or not.

There is a ref in my league whom I know for a fact has a real problem with my team. I have no idea why but every match seems to pass with some sort of incident involving him and with him making decisions against us that even baffle the opposition. He once told one of my players to “shut the fuck up” and when the player swore back at him conversationally he booked him. What chance do you have when this is going on. I have always resisted the urge to complain about him to the league as there is always the chance that he would find out about the complaint and who it came from and that we would no doubt see him as our ref on a more frequent basis, plus I think he is seen as one of the better refs in the league as he always seems to be appointed to bigger matches and finals etc. Referees also speak to each other on a regular basis, especially when they attend at their league meetings and share changing rooms at the centres with a few parks so the risk is that my club would gain a bit of a reputation in these circles and other refs might turn against us for making the complaint. Regardless of this guy’s issue I always make sure I am hospitable to him when he arrives on the day of the game and always speak politely to him over the phone. He may have an issue with the club but I have never given him the chance to say a bad word about me which might stand in my favour if we ever have to go down the official line of complaining about him. Hopefully it never comes to that and we can just get on with our football.

Let the game flow

The Gaffer

“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

Who Am I?

To kick off and in answer to the above question, I don’t plan to reveal who I am or what amateur football clubs I have been involved in. There are a few reasons for this but in the main I can speak a lot more freely if nobody knows my true identity. I don’t aim to be controversial or bad mouth any of my previous club or players, I only wish to talk about what I have seen or witnessed and to give a little insight into the other side of football and a side that most people who play at grassroots level may never know.

I’ve toyed with the idea of blogging on football for some time and I’ve finally decided to have a go at hopefully speaking with some sense about one of my biggest passions, the amateur game.

My background

Bearing in mind that I’m being cautious of giving too much away, I have a decent level of experience at management in a very competitive league in the West of Scotland. I’ve always managed teams on my own with little or no assistance which gives me more ammunition for want of a better phrase for this blog. Taking all of my experiences into account I am or have been the manager, coach, physio, kit man, secretary, treasurer and social event organiser for my clubs. There are hundreds of guys like me up and down the country who balance their own job with their “other” full time job as an amateur football manager, all for the love of the game and not a penny more.

Keep an eye out for my first proper post that should drop shortly and please give my twitter account a follow in the meantime @thegaffersview

Amongst all the stories and opinions that I write about I mostly want the people who will read this to have a laugh and relate to all, or some of what I say.

Keep up the good work

The Gaffer