Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Getting Tough with Players Can Pay Off

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Getting Tough with Players Can Pay Off

Article excerpt

Byline: DON HUTCHISON @donhutch4

IT IS the accusation that no football manager ever wants to have levelled at him.

When you say that a manager has lost the dressing room it should not be done lightly because it's basically saying his next trip is the chairman's office to pick up his P45.

It's very, very difficult to do your job when you've lost the confidence and trust of the majority of your players and it is why man-management is such a vital tool for any successful boss.

You just can't let that balance tip in favour of players who either have a grudge based on not playing or don't believe in the manager's methods.

So when I saw it suggested over the weekend that Alan Pardew was losing the dressing room at Newcastle United, I sat up and took notice.

Now I think if that accusation has been made because he has criticised the players publicly, then there has been a misunderstanding of the way a dressing room works.

In those minutes, hours and days after a bad defeat - or a run of bad defeats - there is a lot of things that are said and done and it is not all about protecting the players. Sometimes airing a few home truths, either privately or publicly, can have the opposite effect and galvanise players.

I speak from experience here. I was playing for Everton when I had one of the fiercest rows with a manager I'd ever had, and to an outsider it would look like an example of a dressing room that was completely out of control and a boss who had lost control. We were playing Leeds at Goodison Park and the game finished 0-0. I was playing well but Walter Smith, who was the manager, took me off in the second half and the fans booed the decision.

Afterwards, Walter went for me verbally in the dressing room. I knew I'd played well but he was accusing me of all sorts, claiming I'd not done my job and that I was responsible for us not winning the game.

I sat there thinking 'Stay cool, don't say anything' because I knew as soon as I responded all hell would break loose.

But this rant went on and onon and I couldn't hold my tongue. I snapped back at him telling him he was completely out of order and he'd got it wrong. Walter - who was a big man - grabbed me and had me by my shirt up against the dressing room wall.

I told him where to go and his response was forthright. "Get in the shower, get your stuff and go - you'll never play for me again," he yelled.

I was in the shower when his assistant Archie Knox poked his head around the corner and said the gaffer wanted to see me in the boot room. As I walked to the little room I prepared for a fight, to be honest. I was thinking, 'I'll let him have one punch because he's the manager, but if he punches me twice I'll have to react.' Walter sat me down and asked me if I was all right. 'No,' I said. …

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