Every footballer in a club’s first team squad at every level wants to play. When you train all week, you want there to be the buzz of a game to look forward to.
Most clubs have between 20 and 30 players to select from and as only 11 can start each game the manager is unpopular to varying degrees with those he or she leaves out. The one thing no player can do is to publicly vent his/her frustration as that undermines the manager’s authority and erodes the discipline that is a vital component part of all successful teams.
In my time in charge of a club I was given some very tough decisions to make around player discipline. One player attacked another in the training ground corridor in full view of other players, there were failed drug tests and other issues that were kept private, but uppermost in my mind when coming to a decision in consultation with the chairman and the manager was that any outcome was seen to be fair and that the discipline which is so vital to maintaining team spirit was upheld.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player but at 37 he has to accept that his time on the pitch will be more limited. Refusing to accept the manager’s decision to substitute another player and then walking off down the tunnel cannot be accepted.
It is disrespectful to the manager but also to his fellow players particularly when those players on the pitch had played so well. It meant that instead of them getting the plaudits their performance deserved the media wanted only to talk about Ronaldo’s behaviour.
Ronaldo was left out of the Manchester United squad for last Saturday’s match at Chelsea and made to train with the U21s and fined two weeks wages, but the punishment can’t end there. All of his fellow players will now be looking closely to see what the manager does next. If he is selected to start a match those not selected will question, why he is selected above them when their behaviour is beyond reproach and his is not. I think it is almost certain that he will move clubs as soon as the January transfer window opens.
There are many component parts to being a successful team, but good discipline and professionalism is right up there.