Big Sam’s guide to man management

Helping a young player deal with rejection

There are disappointments right the way through life. The most important thing is to not think that that is the end; there’s so much time from the age of 10 to make it, and some grow a lot in that time. Make sure you enjoy your football wherever you can play it – for your school, with small-sided games… play as much football as possible. It happened to me – from the age of 12, I had trials with Wolves, West Brom and Aston Villa and they all said no. When I was 15 I got picked up by Bolton, and moving at such a young age it might as well have been to New Zealand – but that’s professional football, you have to go wherever the opportunity takes you.

Dealing with a slacker in a hard working team

If he’s not your best player, drop him until he conforms to what you and the rest of the team want him to do. If he’s a player you can’t do without, and he’s not listening to you, ask his team-mates to have a word. Sometimes, the type of person that reacts badly to authority (like disobeying the manager or the coach) will react quite differently to his mates. So ask the captain and the more senior players to find a solution. It won’t undermine or divide the squad; if he’s not pulling his weight, they should encourage him to be a team player and to work more. But if it’s a continuous problem, you’ll have to find someone to replace him.