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Groves - Time To Decide: Player Or Manager?

By: Graham Howes
Date: 17/01/2002

THE GAME is littered with failed player manager attempts throughout its history. There is a small few who have had fleeting success such as Kenny Dalglish. Yet they all in the end succumb to the inevitable end of failure to the abnormal difficulties it causes.

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A number of reasons can throw a spanner in the works. A seasoned player being jealous he was overlooked. Bitter dispute between a player and yourself, which was linked to a match when you were only a player. Even the old boys' brigade syndrome of having personal favourites you went drinking with or meals. Yet all these are linked to the single cause why player management is so difficult and in many ways harder. Man management is the integral part of any manager in charge of a football club.

So why is it impossible for player managers, to handle man management of players? Well let's say you are Paul Groves after the York fiasco. You are trudging off the pitch thinking what the hell happened. Do you go in the dressing room with all guns blazing knowing that most managers in the game would not tolerate the performance. However you stop and think I have been equally poor so should I just brush it aside and just commiserate my players.

The option you decide is to lambaste their efforts. Some players have now taken offence and answer back referring to your efforts on the pitch also. You lose control of the situation and before you no it the dressing room becomes a battlefield. Considering how a confronted situation can end lets look at the softly approach. You have now commiserated the side despite the abysmal and clearly couldn't care attitude. Players go home and one or two decide to drown their sorrows. They get talking through the drink. The conversation gets to what they think of you as a manager. One says he thinks you're soft and that any previous manager would have lynched them for it. Another then says well if this is an acceptable performance it going to be easy to push the boss about.

All this is hypothetical scenarios which managers face. Paul Groves has to deal with man management if he wants to succeed. He has now got to make the hardest decision of his career. Does he continue to player or does he hang up his boots to concentrate on management side.

In my opinion if he wants to play he has to consider on matchdays he is only a player. That Graham Rodger is the manager for that day. Even a consideration that the first training session after a match, so problems arisen from match can be sorted. Man management then is freed to someone else. Groves then in the dressing room has to become an ambassador and take any criticism on the chin without complaint. He would gain player's respect, as they would see him as just a player. You will always get one disagree that his performance was poor. Groves later in the week could then have a quiet word and discipline the player to improve his attitude

The other way is take on the role as manager and try not playing like Brian Laws did. Groves would take control of the man management during matchdays he does not participate as a player. Throughout the game this is the option that most player managers take when they realise you cannot combine the two roles efficiently.

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