Football is full of opinions. Everyone has one, but not every opinion matters! As frustrating and demoralising as they can be, we have to try and park whatever opinions people have of us to one side, whilst focusing on our performances day to day.
A manager’s opinion is often crucial to a players experience at a club. They pick the starting 11 and have the final say on contract decisions. Whether you are a starter, sitting on the bench, or watching from the stand is their decision, which is formed from their opinions. Whilst players can change opinions through improvements in training and games, sometimes we are just not the manager’s ‘cup of tea’.
For example, there is a striker and the manager wants to play a more direct style of football but that isn’t their game. They can try to adapt their game for a chance in the team but at the end of the day, their strengths differ from how the manager wants their team playing. If the manager is given the choice between that striker and someone who suits their philosophy, then there is only going to be one preferred choice.
The reasons why we’re not in their plans can be frustrating but when they are football-related they are sometimes easier to digest. I have always found it easier to accept a reason if it is football-based because it is then in my hands to change that situation by improving my game.
However, opinions that are based more on factors away from performance are the ones that I have always struggled to accept. This situation is common and is often something that players have no control over. I’ve played with and know many players, including myself, who just haven’t seen eye to eye with managers and for that reason feel that they are not given the same opportunities as others.
You might be a better player ability wise but you conduct yourself in a manner that the manager doesn’t feel comfortable with. Managers will have their preference on the type of characters they want in their team and this can be the reason why players are left out.
Allowing frustrations to affect our attitude isn’t the right way to deal with the situation because more often than not, we are only damaging our own careers and giving the manager another reason to freeze us out.
Football is a small world! Our name and reputation goes before us and just like in life, we have to protect both at all costs. When moving clubs or looking to move on, the new club will more than likely make contact with those who have come across us in the football world before signing us, a bit like a reference check.
All the questions will be based on our character because they are already aware of what we can bring to the club on the pitch, that is why they are interested in signing us. What they don’t know and want to know is, are we going to be an asset to the club both on and OFF of the pitch.
The sort of things clubs will be asking before signing players:
- Are we hardworking?
- Are we any trouble?
- How are we around the changing room?
- Are we driven?
If we conducted ourselves incorrectly because of opinions we didn’t agree with, then this will be reported back to the interested club. What are the chances of them signing someone who is known for having a bad attitude when things go against them? This is a reason why whether the opinion is fair or not, we can’t allow our attitude and standards to drop because of ONE opinion.
We have no control over people’s opinions but we have total control over our reaction and how we choose to conduct ourselves when things aren’t going the way we wish.
What can you do?
In football things can change very quickly, this is why we can’t allow the opinion of one person to affect our attitude and self-belief.
One week we can be out of the team, not making the matchday squad because the manager simply doesn’t think we’re good enough, or we aren’t their type of player. The next week that manager could have left the club and the new manager that comes in views us as an integral part of their team, or injuries have occurred and now the manager has no choice but to select us.
We’ve gone from being out in the cold, to becoming a certain starter in no time at all.
If you are ever out of favour with your manager, or at a club, don’t allow their opinion to affect your application and attitude to training and wanting to improve yourself daily. Sometimes we can’t change people’s opinions on us. I talk about the controllables within football a lot and that is all you can take care of, so when you find yourself in these situations you can:
- Work hard every day.
- Be respectful to the manager (regardless of how you have been treated, don’t stoop down to their level. Protect your reputation).
- Maintain your integrity.
- Be ready.
If we allow that one opinion to have a negative effect on our attitude towards training and lifestyle choices away from football, the chances are that we won’t be in a position to capitalise on opportunities when they arise.
I’ve had experiences where managers haven’t believed in me and I couldn’t get into the team. I would go to the managers and ask why I wasn’t playing and how I could get back into the team. The manager’s reasons were for the most part performance-based, so I accepted them and went away determined with one goal in my head, to get back into their team.
However, during one spell, my situation worsened and I started to miss out on matchday squads and was completely out of the picture.
I hadn’t sulked, whinged, or allowed my personal standards to drop but there were no signs of me making my way into his plans.
After a further chat at the end of the season, I told him that I wouldn’t give up and I worked tirelessly over the off-season and during pre-season, to put myself in contention. Towards the end of pre-season, I was told by a teammate that, in his opinion, I had been the most consistent centre-back throughout. This was coming from someone who had played at the top level of English football, who I was competing with for a starting place in the team at the time, so wouldn’t have been said if he didn’t mean it.
However, during team shape in the lead up to the opening game, it was clear that I was still nowhere near the starting XI. It was clear to me at this point, that no matter what I did, I was never going to be his kind of player.
Whilst infuriating, I didn’t allow his opinion, which was out of my control, to have a negative effect on the things within my power. I went on to leave the club and fortunately went on to play in a team where the manager trusted me and valued my ability, which was a far cry from my previous experience.
Always remember that someone’s opinion doesn’t define you as a player and most importantly, as a person, so don’t let it define your career! Sometimes your hard work and professionalism during adversity will feel like a waste of time but by maintaining your standards, you are making sure that you are controlling what is within your control and not adding further fuel to peoples opinions. You don’t have to agree with their opinions and see eye to eye but you still have to have respect. Respect for your manager, for your teammates but MOST IMPORTANTLY for yourself!
Don’t allow one opinion to tarnish your career and your name.
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