Is it necessary for managers to continually rant and rave?

Monday, September 10, 2012
3:37 PM

Something that has always puzzled me about the view that football is all about player power, is the way that those who supposedly hold the fortunes of club owners, directors, managers and coaching staff in the palms of their hands, are those most likely to be treated like a Victorian child sent up a chimney.

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Money they may earn in abundance, but it’s a curious sight when men who can afford to retire in their late 20s (earlier in many cases) and still live a life of luxury, can still be the subject of horrendous treatment from their managers.

If you’ve ever sat behind a dug-out at a football match you’ll know what I mean: most others just see the manager barking instructions. We all assume he’s yelling over the crowd noise to make himself heard. What he says we don’t know. From limited experience I can tell you it isn’t always pleasant.

In how many other walks of life will a boss impart instructions by shouting them? In how many other walks of life will he sprinkle his words with the sort of language that matches the colour of an Ipswich Town shirt?

I recall Darren Huckerby calling his own press conference one week at Colney to refute claims by then West Brom boss Gary Megson over his decision to join Norwich instead of the Baggies. It wasn’t about money, said Hucks: “I told him I didn’t like the way he coached, I didn’t like the way he shouted at his players and didn’t like the way he treated seasoned professionals like 15-year-olds. I was just being honest with him. I said: ‘I’ve seen you on the sidelines and you look like a crazed animal’.

“He told me that was how he had to work with his players but I’m not a 15-year-old and I wouldn’t want to be treated like that.”

Phil Brown famously embarrassed his Hull City players when, instead of heading for the dressing rooms after a poor first half, he gave his half-time talk on the pitch, in full view of the fans. It was ridiculous, and I’m not sure Brown’s reputation has ever fully recovered.

But perhaps the best example of managerial meltdown is Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio, who subbed his keeper, Wes Foderingham, after just 21 minutes of a League One game. Foderingham walked past a ranting Di Canio and then reacted badly, swearing at no one in particular and kicking a water bottle.

Di Canio later described the keeper as “the worst professional I’ve ever seen”.

“I know my players, I know Wes – he was the worst player against Stoke in the cup in midweek – he was far away the worst player, he made a rubbish performance. But I covered for him because we won 4-3,” Di Canio said. “He was nothing until the day he joined me. He’s arrogant and thinks he’s untouchable.”

This from a man who once pushed over a referee during a game, a man who, during his playing days in Italy, on more than one occasion used a fascist salute to Lazio’s right-wing supporters. To be fair, he also won a Fair Play award after catching the ball rather than take a shot at goal – because the opposing goalkeeper was injured.

But Di Canio’s outburst against Foderingham was pathetic – as is the argument that it was simply a public display of the passion he has for the game.

It wasn’t about his desire to win at all costs – it stank of being a “me, me, me – look at me” stunt.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s “hair dryer” rollockings are famous, but why are they necessary?

Can’t grown men understand the English language?

Do they really need Good Cop, Bad Cop treatment?

The sad thing is that if you walk down your local park, I’ll bet you will see other managers imitating the professionals. Just like the players do.

• FLINTOFF’S INSULT

It may be for a TV documentary, but I reckon Andrew Flintoff’s intention to become a professional boxer is a bit of an insult to those who actually do it for a living. The ex-England cricketer, 34, is planning to fight in a heavyweight bout at Manchester’s MEN Arena on November 30 – if he gets a licence.

From cricket to boxing? It sounds unlikely, and it also sounds dangerous. Go into the Kickstop Gym in Norwich and you will see blokes who train hours each day, and who have done so for years. They sweat blood and endure some pretty vicious training. But they are boxers. It’s what they do. It’s what they have to do. Let’s hope the British Boxing Board of Control take a long, hard look at Flintoff’s licence application and refuse it.

• KNILL GOES NUTS

There are some headlines that you just cannot ignore and ‘Squirrel One, Alan Knill’ was one of them. Reading the first paragraph it was hard not to laugh: “Scunthorpe manager Alan Knill has revealed he narrowly escaped serious injury following a squirrel-related cycling accident.” Seems he was out riding his bike when he collided with a squirrel. Unable to dodge the animal, it got caught up in his wheel spokes and sent the manager flying over his handlebars.

Knill escaped with cuts and bruises and while he made the point that he could have died, there wasn’t much sympathy from Scunthorpe fans who saw their team lose to Notts County in the Johnstones Paint Trophy the following night. Thanks to the Scunthorpe Telegraph, whose exclusive story tickled a lot of fancies in the media world.

• KEEP OUT MPS

Did no-one stop to think that it was highly likely that politicians George Osborne and Theresa May would be booed should they be asked to present medals at the Paralympics? First of all, why on earth should politicians be presenting medals? And why these two? Osborne’s constituency is in Cheshire, May’s is Maidenhead.

Whatever has been happening in the Olympic venues this summer should have nothing to do with politics – even though you can bet your life they’d win gold medals for the new sport of “riding on the back of someone’s else’s popularity”.

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