I watched Prince William’s recent documentary about mental health issues, and during it Joe Hart mentioned that the lowest point of his career was being dumped out of the Manchester City team by Pep Guardiola, so I’m going to start this article by stating immediately that I know first-hand what it’s like to be in a ‘Face doesn’t fit’ situation.
No, I’m not talking about the numerous occasions when my wife wrote to the production teams of Blind Date or Take Me Out begging them to find some unsuspecting females willing to have me. Sadly, I’m talking about my experience with a particular manager who took over my team and immediately decided my mush didn’t belong.
I’d been playing week in and week out for several seasons so thought nothing of it when this new bloke took over. The writing was on the wall when we travelled all the way to Morpeth for our first pre-season friendly, and I was the only one in the whole squad who didn’t take any part. In fact I never played a single minute for him at any stage and moved on, but to this day I have no idea why my face didn’t fit.
The thing is I hardly knew this fella, and as far as I know I’d never had dalliances with his daughter (or missus), nor had I urinated on his French Fries, but he certainly took a disliking to me. One other thing is a few years later I picked up my one and only red card in a long and distinguished (or should that be extinguished) football career, and guess who the referee was? I leave that one with you.
It’s a sickening scenario, but we’ve all seen it happen and not that long ago we witnessed Aiden McGeady being given a map of London and a one way ticket for the rest of the season. Talk about hero to zero in one easy move.
The thing is, reputation doesn’t seem to make any difference either and the truth is it can happen to anyone. Take Gareth Bale for instance.
I watched Zinedine Zidane giving a press conference a while ago, and when he was asked about the Welsh winger’s future he used the phrase ‘It’s nothing personal’ several times which invariably means it most certainly is.
Now it’s fair to say that the French international with a black belt in dishing out the old ‘Glasgow Kiss’ is hailed as a legend and has God like status within the Bernabéu Stadium. The irony is the very player he seems to be trying to move on has a somewhat superior record of achievement with Real to that of old ZZ himself, despite suffering several injuries during his time there.
By the time Bale had equalled the number of club appearances of his manager he’d scored twice as many goals, had an equal number of assists and won double the amount of trophies so any logical thinker would expect him to be a massive part of the coach’s plans. However Zidane clearly doesn’t rate or like him too highly, because despite the impressive stats he looks like he’s going to be saying Adios whenever football gets back to normal (whatever that normality may be).
Mind you, it’s not only players who can suffer the indignity of their face not being right. Take Brian Clough’s disastrous spell at Leeds for instance. What happened there? Yes the bloke was eccentric, outspoken and didn’t suffer fools gladly but boy was he successful.
So how come he only lasted six weeks and two days? It was simple.
The players were Don Revie’s team so they didn’t want Cloughie from the start which just proves that no matter how much success you’ve enjoyed, how big your ego is or how universally you are loved and admired it doesn’t make one jot of difference if it’s that moment when your face doesn’t fit.