Football is evolving…..or do we say, change and greater change is coming into football. Before this era, managers or coaches call the shots on and off the field of play and even the dressing room. They decide who comes into the team, talking about the players, who gets kicked out, who plays what role, the pattern or formation for and in any game and to a large extent the overall behaviour of the players off and on the pitch since the players are seen more as ambassadors of the team or club.
Suffice this to mean that the managers or coaches are given blank cheque to operate. They are given absolute free hand to run the team. The players submit to their wishes, desires or demands. If the player goes out of the line, talking about the rules and regulations of the team, he either gets whipped into line or sent packing by the manager or coach.
This is where great managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelloti, Giovanni Trappatoni, Jupp Heynecks, Arigo Sacchi, Arsene Wenger and Bobby Robson among others pulled their strength and success from. If they don’t like a player or group of players, the latter leave almost immediately.
Today, the table seems to have turned around. The players now decide the roles they want to play, the wages they want to earn, the players they want to pair with and above all the formation or pattern the team should play. This however, depends on the influence or importance of the player or players in the team. For a player who has won the World Cup or his continent’s apex tournament like the Copa America, Euro Championship or AFCON, he comes to the team and accorded loads of respect given his experience….and if he is already in the team, his fame increases as he becomes the face of the club or team. If he is coming into the team, his monetary value, signing fee and wages shoot him almost higher that the manager’s take-home thus, propelling his value and influence in the team higher than those of the manager.
The club’s owner, board, management and fans embellish and massage the player’s ego so much so that he is almost more important and influential than the manager or coach. For players who are egocentric, he starts rubbing shoulders with the manager or coach. He quarrels if fielded in a role he dislikes. He speaks to the press or media on issues in the changing room. He questions the managers formation or pattern if the club loses. He blames the manager or coach once the team drops in form….We can go on and on.
When Jose Mourinho fell out with Paul Pogba, everyone knew it was a matter of time for one of the two to exit Manchester United.
Sadly, the board, fans and ex-players of the club threw their weights behind the player who openly told Mou he won’t play any role outside his choice role. Mou was accused of being arrogant and high-handed Mou waited for his employers to act but they felt that they could always get a better manager…. but talking about a better player, the top quality ones are very scarce.
Mou continued to struggle with a team torn between respect for manager and hatred for a colleague who is enjoying the support of the club owners.
Worse still, each time the players remembered the request for wage increase by Pogba to equate that of Alexis Sanchez, they wonder why Mou has not kicked out Pogba….and they wonder if, Mou was still in charge of the team.
This broke the team’s spirit even as the players lost hope and trust in the leadership style of their boss. All man was for himself as Manchester United was for all. This situation cannot take the team to where it should be. It cannot guarantee trophies for a top club desirous of winning trophies. The loss to Liverpool FC was just the icing on a cake already eaten before the game. Mou had to go because he has lost control of his boys and team. …more so, the fans were becoming impatient. They keep complaining game after game that “This is not the Manchester United we used to know”.
Mourinho must blame himself for repeatedly losing control of his boys and team. A top class manager does not allow a player or group of players to rubbish him, his team or career always. This happened in his first “missionary journey” at Chelsea where some top players “ganged up” against him. They had access to club owner Roman Abrahamovic. They had his listening ears and they did Mou in.
Perhaps we may even argue that Mou has been unfortunate working in clubs that value their players more than him or their managers/coaches. Whichever way we choose to look at it, one fact has been established in modern day football, clubs seem to be given top players upper hand over the managers. This trend has made the value of players skyrocket so much so that the movement or transfer of top players has reduced tremendously. This is why some football enthusiasts will say, good players are scarce hence all clubs want to keep theirs.
By Desmond Ekwueme