“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