Kevin De Bruyne was once dubbed “the modern Cruyff”’ by his under-21 manager at Genk and it was Johan Cruyff who said: “Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.” MORE
Dealing with players who are always in trouble
The Under 18s only have one game left … and they were heading to the top of the table until they lost their heads in a game they were controlling easily.
How frustrating having been first or second in the league all season the Under 18s have lost a couple of games that has seen them drop to fourth as the season ends in disappointment.
However in this instance they only have themselves to blame and I feel sorry for the manager of the team who has had them since they were Under 11s. At the weekend they only needed a draw to give themselves chance of winning the league and at half time were in control of a feisty but fair game leading 1-0.
But right at the start of the second half one or two of the boys decided that they would try and disrupt play rather than continue playing the tactics that have been worked on all season.
This unfolded into niggly fouls and constant appeals to the referee and became a gamed of ‘get your own back’ for any fouls committed. Hassling the referee is something I hate to see in any youth team and the behaviour of some of the boys was poor. The other players became annoyed at the way they were behaving and tried to get the team to concentrate on playing.
It became worse once the opposition equalised with 20 minutes left – yellow cards came out and the game became messy and to be honest not much fun to watch standing as we were in weather more akin to winter than spring.
To make matters worse the other team scored with 2 minutes left to win the game 2-1 and rightly deserved their victory because of the way the team had gone about playing the second half. Spare a thought a well for the referee who had to try and control a bunch of 17 year olds hell bent on stopping the opposition playing. Only they didn’t and let down the rest of the team.
I just hope this is a huge lesson learned, and for the team the one player who causes trouble should think hard about what he does to the team when he gets yellow and red cards.
Not just problems on the pitch
I have dealt with troubled young players before and there are lots of different problems that arise than just poor behaviour on the pitch.
“I’m not having him, he’s trouble,” one of our coaches said to me a couple of seasons ago. “He disrupts sessions and doesn’t turn up to matches.”
There are often players who need to be dealt with differently from the others, ones who cause problems and take much more of your time. It is difficult for the coaches who don’t have much experience to have this added to their workload.
The boy in question is a good player, but is prone to shouting and crying if he gets substituted or if he feels hard done by.
The first problem came when he told me he wanted to play as striker. I explained to him how every player would be in different positions each week, so while he may be striker one week it he probably wouldn’t be the next.
Later his dad came over and spoke to me about the match that was coming up and how he knew his son wanted to play as striker. Again I explained the club policy and he was reassured that the boy would play striker in some games.
Can’t get to games on time
One of the reasons he wasn’t wanted in some of the other teams was his problem of not getting to games. I spoke with the boy and his dad and I was reassured he would be there on match day. He even turned up on time and played so well in a midfield role that the other players voted him Man Of The Match.
I think he was surprised how he had been treated in the team and over a few weeks became a revelation to me and to himself. His dad told me that prior to joining my team, he was usually sitting out the second half of matches as a punishment for his behaviour.
Sometimes it takes extra effort and rewards to deal with a disruptive child – this week he was first at training and the first to arrive at the match. I know the coaches that turned him away are looking on wishing they had kept him.