Every now and then, people who work together will have a clash of heads. I think it is safe to say all of us have not always agreed with our bosses, and in the most extreme situations we have actually had a heated confrontation with them. But the benefit that we have is that it is never in the media because we are not public figures (Really? – Ed). When this happens in football, you can be sure that it will be a very big thing because, well, you are a public figure. Remember the infamous David Beckham vs Sir Alex Ferguson saga? There was also Roy Keane vs Sir Alex, and in the most recent years Cristiano Ronaldo vs Jose Mourinho. The central issue here has always been the coaches/managers criticising players in public, and in return those players’ egos cannot handle that. Well in true Mourinho style, he has made the news again this week when he lashed out at Luke Shaw for his role in Watford’s second goal in the 3-1 defeat on Sunday.
Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Let me bring it closer to home. Just last week here in South Africa Orlando Pirates coach Muhsin Ertugral had a public spat with defender Edwin Gyimah at the Cape Town International Airport. This was actually caught on camera, and speculation was that it stemmed from the player not being happy about being hauled off at half-time. Whatever the reason was, it added to Ertugral’s reputation as a coach who does not take kindly to players that do not follow instruction to a T. Mabhudi Khenyeza can also testify this. It is no secret that Ertugral was the reason Khenyeza left Kaizer Chiefs after they butted heads. Ironically, the Turk later went on to coach Ajax Cape Town and found Khenyeza there. There was an initial scare that they would not be able to make it work, but they did. Only they know what really took place between them. Another Chiefs saga, and probably the most public one of the lot, was when coach Vladimir Vermezovic brought Abia Nale to literal tears on the bench. The nippy winger had just been taken off by the Serbian coach and he read him the riot act in full view of cameras. Nale was so distraught that he even left for the dressing room right there and then, while the game was on. Remember Ruud Krol? He led Pirates to their first treble in the 2010/11 season. But not before he exchanged a few choice words with midfielder Teko Modise. This was the main reason ‘The General’ left the Buccaneers for Mamelodi Sundowns. And then there was Shakes Mashaba. Now we could spend the whole day if we were to mention all the players he has clashed with. Those that come to mind right now are Benni McCarthy, May Mahlangu, Kermit Erasmus, and Kamohelo Mokotjo. The latter even announced his international retirement due to his non-agreement with coach Mashaba’s ways.
So the question is, who actually suffers when coaches clash with players? In my opinion, it hits the players the hardest because clubs will not normally dismiss the coach because of this, and the player relies on the coach for selection. If he does not play him, before long he will be deemed surplus to requirements and subsequently be forced to leave the club. This is why you will normally find players not willing to say what is really happening in camp out in the media. Truth is, this is their livelihood and they cannot afford to be sidelined for other reasons than their performance on the field. But like I said, it is really unfair due to the nature of their work because we all have those with our bosses. In some rare cases it might go the players’ way. When a coach clashes with a senior player, normally divisions are formed within the team. The other senior players will naturally stand in solidarity with their colleague and try influence the junior players and fringe players. They will then deliberately leak it to the media, knowing that we will go after the coach about it. He gets annoyed and falls out with the media. The minute any coach falls out with the media it is over for him. He is living on borrowed time at the club or national team for that matter.
Photo credit: Nick Lourens
So all in all, whenever coaches/managers clash with players you can be sure that something is brewing and it will either fall this way or that one. The Ertugral/Gyimah situation will be monitored with keen interest, and we shall see which one of the two will last at the Sea Robbers.