Whilst some clubs have midweek fixtures, we took one look at the EFL Cup and laughed in the face of glory. After recent weeks, that may be no bad thing with an opportunity to put things right presenting itself. And after a hard day’s training session, why not let the players kick back and relax.
Why not? Because some of them are a magnet for trouble. Yes, Master Grealish, I’m looking in your direction.
Roberto Di Matteo apparently spoke to the resident whippersnapper about his behaviour and how it is impacting on his career. It’s hitting him in the pocket as well with the Telegraph reporting that the midfielder will soon find out if he has been hit with a £42,000 fine and a suspension.
That’s the club’s prerogative; they are his employers and if he has broken the club’s rules, then he deserves his punishment. If he hasn’t, I hope that the club won’t hesitate to put out a statement defending him. It’s a tricky issue in those circumstances. Do they let it blow over and just get on with it or do they fight back and protest his innocence, keeping the incident in the public eye?
Grealish has already acquired the ‘Jack the Lad’ reputation through his holiday high jinx and most were prepared to overlook the issue since it was in close season. Stupid, yes but essentially his own business. Now we’re in the middle of a troubled period in the club’s history, forgiveness is less easily found. Arsenal fans turned on their own ‘Jack the Lad’ with some venomous comments. We’re the same; extremism gets the airwaves.
Usually Stan Collymore lecturing anyone on anything is met with derision but on this subject, he’s an expert. Stan’s own reptuation as a player continues to dog him – quite literally – into his media career. Speaking on the radio, he said:
“What he needs to do is be like Michael Owen when he broke on to the scene at 17-18; go back home, do the boring stuff, have a game of snooker, have a coffee, play a PS2/PS4 game and become boring.
“If you go down the other route you become a target, you get a reputation and it becomes very, very difficult to discharge your responsibilities as a professional footballer.”
Not a phrase you will hear me say very often but those are wise words Stan. The benefit of hindsight and experience, etc.
We were all young once and did things we regret. Whilst we were in public, most of us weren’t in the public eye and that’s what Jack has to come to terms with. It’s tough love to be fair but with virtually all mobile phones having a decent camera, footballers are never more than one indiscretion away from the front page.
Clubs, in years gone by, had to rely on informants to tell them what the players got up to. Not anymore and in any case, the first phone call which tends to be made is to the news desk of a newspaper – local or national – with the public’s insatiable desire for intruding on the lives of the rich and famous the driving force. That and a couple of hundred quid in your pocket.
Jack is indulged to some extent at the moment but that won’t continue all the while the team is out of form. But more than anything, he needs to become aware of the extent to which the public will inform on him. In the absence of common sense, some media coaching may not be a bad idea.