He probably won’t realise it now but being substituted after twenty minutes of Swindon Town’s game against Preston might just end up being the best thing that could have happened to Wes Foderingham. After receiving the kind of publicity reality TV “stars” could only dream of due to Paolo Di Canio producing his Shepherd’s Hook after just 20 minutes, he now has the recognition and subsequent attention of thousands more fans than he did two weeks ago. PR is as much as part of football as the ball game itself these days and his profile has been raised to a level where any favourable performances will bring him to the forefront of any lists drawn up by prospective suitors.
It’s a rare occurrence for a goalkeeper to be substituted at all and if anyone was in any doubt why his team were two goals down, Di Canio made it perfectly clear where he thought the blame lay. Di Canio is a man who likes to make his statements as clear as Caribbean coastal waters so why wait until half time to lambaste Foderingham when you can humiliate him in front of thousands in the stands and then millions on TV?
[Di Canio] wants his players to remain grounded and focused and if egos inflate he is quick to prick them before they become a problem
The initial humiliation and embarrassment suffered by Foderingham brought out an understandable, if somewhat immature reaction from him, as he made his way down the touchline. Whilst we’ve all been consumed by the old red mist at some time or another, reactions like that are just theatrics to say to the crowd “Look how much I care!” but he’d have been better served not disrespecting his manager and just taking his anger out on a bin and a table full of energy drinks back in the dressing room.
The attention heaped on Foderingham apart, the benefits of this headline-making incident are manifold. The manager obviously rates his young charge and said as much when he credited much of last season’s success to his keeper, but by taking such bold actions, he again exerted his authority over his squad, as he did last season by dropping most of his team after an unscheduled drinking session. Whether he could do this to a squad of Premier League stars is an immaterial discussion because until his managerial star stops rising, there’s no arguing with his methods. He wants his players to remain grounded and focused and if egos inflate he is quick to prick them before they become a problem. You only have to ask former captain Paul Caddis- who has been farmed out from Swindon Town to Birmingham City on loan- what happens to those who fall on the wrong side of Paolo.
The trouble these days is that many players think it’s the manager who must earn their respect
The real message here from Di Canio, or from any other manager for that matter, isn’t “Don’t mess with me or disrespect me”; it’s simply a lesson that should be heeded by young footballers everywhere: Even when the manager is wrong, he’s still right. It was one of the first things I was taught in my youth. A manager will always live or die by the decisions he takes and whatever he thinks is the best for the team is right and if it isn’t he will be fired. Players have to learn to do a certain amount of kneeling to authority because getting into a shouting match with a manager is a futile exercise. The best managers I’ve played for were always the ones who receive the least back-chat from players because of the respect they have commanded. The trouble these days is that many players think it’s the manager who must earn their respect, rather than them automatically giving it to their boss because of the fundamental rules of hierarchy. Unless you’re a massive personality like Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard at a club, there can only be one winner in fights between player and manager and I was happy that Foderingham saw fit to apologise pretty swiftly and move on.
Even though players think they know better than their gaffer, they’re rarely right and it’s not until you’ve sat in that chair, enduring the same pressures managers are under, that you can fully appreciate that their job entails more than merely selecting eleven players on a Saturday afternoon. Players think they are showing strength by “standing up” to their managers but it’s really more a case of trying not to lose face in front of their teammates. What they don’t realise is that it takes a stronger character to take his decisions on the chin and provide him with what he is asking for, rather than getting into a petty game of “No, you f**k off!’ with your boss.
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