FOOTBALL OPINION: 'Mancini will regret decision to blame players for defeat'
During my career I was lucky to have managers who never rushed in front of TV cameras or shoved their face in front of a journalist’s dictaphone to slag off his players after a defeat.
If I had, I know how I would have reacted and, considering this is a good family paper, the words I would have used to describe my mouthy boss are not exactly printable.
However, guys like Billy McNeill and Bryan Robson - my two gaffers at Celtic and Middlesbrough - knew that any criticism they directed at the players, and more often than not it was justified, should be shouted at their charges in the dressing room. And, more importantly, that their gripes and issues with their players should stay there.
That’s not a lesson Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini seems to agree with as after his side’s shock 3-1 loss at Southampton he did exactly the opposite.
Not only did the Italian not even bother to go into the dressing room after the defeat (he reportedly got one of his coaches to get his bag for him), he then proceeded to air his grievances with his team’s performance and certain individuals to any journo who would care to listen.
So rather than tell Joe Hart to his face he had a stinker (which, let’s face it he did) and that he’s not playing to the standard everyone expects (which again is a valid point) Mancini told the rest of the world.
It was the same with the rest of the side, as he waxed lyrical about how the players were to blame for the shock at Southampton. It’s hardly inspiring, is it?
Now, I’m not saying players should be shielded from criticism, far from it. Managers are not there to be mates with the players, they are there to get results and part of that is telling the team, in rather strong terms if needed, where they went wrong after a defeat.
But it should be dished out in private, not to the media pack awaiting a juicy story. The only ones who do well out of that is the throng of journos, who, without breaking sweat, find said juicy story fall straight into their lap.
The problem I and other players have with managers running to the press and blaming everyone, other than it’s not exactly Churchillian leadership, is that ultimately the buck stops with the manager. It’s his team, he’s brought the players and he’s picked the side. I don’t know of any team-mates when I played who went out and didn’t give 100 per cent. Sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green, things don’t go your way and you lose. You take it on the chin, learn from it and try and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
So if I were a City fan and I heard Mancini say, as he did: “It’s not always the fault of the manager, players should take responsibility if they have big balls” I would be very worried. The side is already all but out of the title race and for Mancini to publically flog his players is nothing short of scandalous.
If he wants to find out who’s responsible for City’s troubled title tilt he should look in the mirror and have a good long stare.
I EXPECT GARETH TO BALE OUT ON SPURS
Another weekend has gone and Gareth Bale has scored another brace and, in the process, seemingly gone up another level or two. Aged 23, he’s about to enter the prime of his career and, sorry Spurs fans, you’d expect him to be seeking a new club very soon. That’s not to say Spurs aren’t a big club, rather that at the end of his career he’ll want to look back and see a trophy cabinet stuffed full of top-class silverware, and his chances of that happening are increased if he moves to one of Europe’s top clubs.
His fellow Welshman Ian Rush has warned him against moving abroad, but I cannot see any pitfalls awaiting him if he does go to say Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Apart from his many, many goals, Rushie’s famous for explaining his failure to thrive at Juventus back in the 1980s by saying living in Italy was “like living in a foreign country”.
As much as he claims he didn’t say that, the differences between playing abroad now and in Rushie’s time are huge. Now clubs look after their players much better, players can afford private jets to fly them home at a minute’s notice and the internet makes you feel closer to your friends and family. So, apologies again to the Spurs tribe, but don’t not be shocked to find Bale abroad next year.