The Non League Secret Manager - Inside the changing room.

"This week England qualified for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Typically now we aren’t talking about the pitch, but matters of it. I don’t believe for one minute that Roy Hodgson is any way racist, and the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

The real issue here is the fact a player has anonymously gone to the papers and broken changing room trust. There is obviously a hidden agenda here, whoever that player was who contacted the papers. I really feel for Roy, who in a matter of minutes went from elation to one of complete and utter disbelief. Don’t get me wrong, had Roy been in any way, shape or form racist or offensive then I would agree it was an issue for concern. However, it isn’t.

There is an unwritten rule in football, that whatever happens or is said in the changing room remains in there. I’ve had a go at players before many times, but I’ve then come out of the changing room and defended them as footballers, and as people, to the press, board and supporters. Players have had a go at me, I remember years ago one started a fight with me, but it stayed in the changing room and we dealt with it. That player who tried to fight me walked into the clubhouse as cool as a cucumber twenty minutes later all smiles. He didn’t walk in and start mouthing off about me in front of supporters, and saying he thought of me at that time. As it turned out, he apologised to me, brought me a beer and gave me a hug. In fact no one ever mentioned the incident ever again.

One player used to tell his Dad everything I said in the changing room, and his Dad used to go on the clubs public supporters internet forum, trying to be all clever and in the know. He didn’t tell people who he was, only saying he was “close to the dressing room”. I went mad, fronted the whole team up, and it stopped. It was only later on that I found out who it was.

This isn’t uncommon to be fair. Players who have been dropped will often sound off to their families, and that’s fine, but then going onto public forums to shit stir isn’t fine.

The simple way around this is to lay down the rules at the start of the season. I make it clear that we need to stay together, and there will be times when players will be unhappy with decisions I make, BUT please come and talk to me, no matter how big or small the problem is, and we will find a solution. That way we avoid any sort of embarrassment on club forums. It is my job when I manage to manage my players, not ignore them.

I cannot believe that Roy Hodgson is unapproachable. I’m sure that if a player has an issue, Roy’s door is open for that player to go and talk. All Roy was trying to say was to keep giving the ball to Andros Townsend, but dressed it up as a story to help the players understand. What I don’t get is that the player has gone straight to the papers, and not gone to see his manager. It is actually incredible, and it could either tear the dressing room apart or result in Roy Hodgson leaving his job, which in my opinion he doesn’t deserve. To his credit, Townsend can’t understand what the fuss is about and has defended Hodgson.

I am not particularly keen on managers having a go at players in the press either. I usually find a manager will do this to try and save his own job, or because he doesn’t want supporters slagging him off. I saw one manager in the non league press not long ago, threatening to change his whole squad as they weren’t good enough. Surely that’s his fault? He signed them and it’s his job to get value for money and manage them? Having a go at them publicly is asking for trouble, as those players still have to play for that manager in the meantime. I wouldn’t want to play for him, that’s for sure. Look at Paolo Di Canio... nothing was his fault. It was always the players fault at Sunderland.

Successful teams are close knit, and deal with their issues in private. This is something I think managers and players need to continue to understand. I hope this stuff all blows over, and Hodgson is left alone to continue planning for Brazil next year."