Off the Ball

Monday 28 July 2014

Foley's tale tells more about manager than any success

Diarmuid Lyng

Published 07/05/2014|02:30

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BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JULY 25: Kevin Foley of Wolverhampton Wanderers is shown in action during the Pre Season Friendly match between Bristol City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Ashton Gate on July 25, 2009 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
Kevin Foley

It's a rare thing in football where a player who suffers the ignominy of a public axing on the eve of the biggest tournament of his life goes to ground and accepts his fate, unwilling to drag himself through the mire.

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Such was the scenario of Kevin Foley in 2012. But two things stood out in an excellent interview by Irish Independent soccer correspondent and our resident football expert, Daniel McDonnell, in a piece in Monday's paper.

The first is that a man with such a high standing in footballing circles couldn't just give it to him as it was. Trap gave Foley the flimsy excuse of needing Paul McShane due to last-minute injuries to some of his centre-halves. Blisters being one of the 'injuries'.

I've witnessed it possibly three or four times a year during my career where a player is dropped from the panel or omitted from the team on the eve of a big game and some half-baked excuse is used, leaving the player bitterly clinging to a lie.

Yes, some players can't take the cold hard truth of not being good enough. Doubtless it's a hard thing to receive.

It's in a public forum and the investments are often huge. But it's disempowering for a player, and managers let themselves off the hook by doing it.

And sure as night follows day, hot on the heels of such a decision to drop a player, comes the invite back into the squad and a huge dilemma for any player.

Getting dropped is easy compared to this part. Feeling let down, undervalued, disrespected, do you swallow your pride and accept the invite in the hope that you can set a new narrative, removing any doubts that everything that could be done had been done?

Or are the boundaries set, dignity takes over and the story is now set in stone? Foley couldn't go back. But many do.

They swallow their pride and they get to live the experience their pride may have denied them.

No one really cares about those on the fringes. Let go in the 11th hour.

But they have their stories to tell and they often say more about a manager than any silverware can. Foley knows this only too well.

Irish Independent

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