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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Seriously, are managers actually allowed to talk to players any more?

Luis Suarez says Brendan Rodgers promised him he could leave if Liverpool didn't get into the Champions League.

Footballers are always referring to conversations about their future that allegedly took place months or years earlier. I find it hard to picture these heart to hearts. Where do they take place? Behind closed doors in the manager's office? In front of witnesses in the boardroom? Are they whispered in the player's ear and accompanied by a pat on the backside as they're brought on with fifteen minutes to go? Are they on the phone? What language - or broken language - are they in?

I was thinking of this while previewing the Radio Four adaptation of David Peace's novel about Bill Shankly Red or Dead. In the old days of football I can easily imagine managers taking players aside and using the full arsenal of their man-management techniques on them. In today's litigious era I would be surprised if the clubs let managers say anything to players which didn't directly pertain to what was expected of them in the next ninety minutes. They simply couldn't take the risk.

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