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My time at Scunthorpe United…Part 2. Crisis meeting and a more direct approach

October 21, 2010 3 comments

Brian Laws had said that he wanted a promotion push for the next season and he said he wanted to do it by playing attractive football rather than ‘hoofing’ his way out of the basement division.

We played a 5-3-2 formation for the beginning of the next season.

I was fully expecting to start where I left off at the end of the previous season. I would probably say that I thought that it would be easy. I was not good enough to take my foot off the pedal though. The season didn’t go according to plan though for both myself and  the club. I only ended up with about 10 goals. I didn’t capture the form from the end of the previous season at all. Maybe because I arrived at Glanford Park the previous season in good form I believed that my form would naturally continue. The physical approach of other teams stifled me and I didn’t score enough goals for the season to be an individual success for me.  I went missing in a lot of matches. Again, we finished off outside the play-offs. We were perhaps playing too much football in the wrong areas of the pitch. Brian wanted to play  a passing game but we weren’t getting the results. In fact, we went on an unbelievable streak of about 10 straight defeats during that season. You would have thought that we would have spawned at least a draw or two in there somewhere even if we had not played well. Pressure was mounting on Brian Laws. Rumours were rife that he would lose his job if we didn’t get a win soon. After the tenth defeat though he did something that certainly saved his job at Scunthorpe and possibly allowed him to have the management career he has had to date. He called a meeting between the players and management. Now these meetings are not that rare. You could call them ‘crisis’ meetings actually. They are at a time when a win is desperately needed. In my experience they start out by managers saying that what is said during these meetings is a chance for players to have their say-to ‘get it all off their chest’. Players have opinions too,  whether it be tactical or any other part of how things are being done but they are seldom aired. I can see why too. The manager is the manager and therefore responsible for the day-to-day running of the club. It is his neck on the line so he does it his way. That is not just Brian Laws but that tends to be how the game works. This meeting started by Brian asking if us players had anything to contribute. How we could improve and what he was doing wrong? Most managers are too stubborn to put that out there to players. I can remember a long silence after him putting that out there. After what seemed like ages one of the senior pro’s spoke out and suggested something that could change. I don’t remember what it was but it opened the floodgates. After that everybody was having their say. How training should be conducted, how the manager was reacting to them in certain situations, how we were over playing…and on it went. It was all done in a respectful manner but he must have thought he was getting absolutely torn to shreds. He sat there with a pad and pen writing it all down and to his great credit he took everything on board and didn’t hold a grudge towards any of the players. Managers say that they don’t hold grudges, but 99% of them do. They might not think they do but if a player speaks out then they wait and wait until an opportunity arises where they can equal it out. In this case it worked though. Things changed immediately. He was much more positive towards players and because of that our performances and results picked up instantly. The biggest change was our style of play. We weren’t direct enough and that was a huge reason why we were not winning matches. The next match, Swansea at home, saw us playing direct to the extreme. We got the ball forwards much earlier, got the ball in their box and harried them all over the pitch. We won 2-0. From then on Brian’s philosophy was completely different. It’s OK saying that you want to play nice, attractive football but if your job is on the line you have to ditch your philosophy along with your pride because without a job you won’t be playing any football at all. We didn’t have time to succeed that season but that summer brought about a change in to my own personal outlook on things as well as a different type of player coming into our dressing room to enhance a more direct approach than the previous season.

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