Bitter tweet for Doyle as wife spills beans on night out
Alex McLeish has accused a number of his players of making a "big error of judgment" after it emerged that they had stayed out into the small hours just days before their crucial final game of the season thanks to a 'tweet' from the wife of Irish international goalkeeper Colin Doyle.
The involvement of Doyle (below) and fellow Birmingham 'keeper Ben Foster was revealed when Doyle's wife, Becky, went public on Twitter, saying her husband's behaviour had shown a lack of "respect" to the club. She said: "P****ed off with my husband getting in at 4am with Fossy (Foster) and waking me up. Celebrate next week when you are safe. Have some respect."
Although she was persuaded to delete her original comment, she later wrote: "So angry, what's the point of Twitter if your not allowed to write what you want on it," and added: "Golf bag and clubs still for sale. Comes with one hungover husband." Yesterday, Becky Doyle's Twitter account had been removed.
However, that hasn't reduced the ire of Birmingham manager McLeish, who said he is ready to drop any player from the side if he doubts their commitment even though they didn't break any club rules.
Eight of the club's senior players -- including Foster and Doyle -- stayed out until 4.0 after their end-of-season awards dinner on Monday night, a major breach of the management's trust ahead of the club's crunch Premier League fixture against Tottenham on Sunday.
McLeish received apologies from those involved during a meeting after training on Tuesday, and said he was "disappointed" by their conduct. He accepted that supporters also had a right to be angry over the affair, but insisted that the players' antics would not affect their performance against Tottenham, a match which could decide whether Birmingham are relegated.
It is unlikely that any of the errant players will be disciplined because they did not break any rules -- like most clubs, Birmingham's curfew kicks in only 48 hours before matches.
However, McLeish is furious at the timing of the incident and made sure that the players are aware of his disappointment.
"Anything that gets done will be handled internally," he said yesterday. "I don't think it is for public consumption, but at the same time the players know how disappointed I am. It was a big error of judgment. The more I say about it, the more it will escalate. I'll deal with it internally."
Asked if the culprits had apologised in person, McLeish said: "I spoke to them yesterday (Tuesday) and they were remorseful. They will recover in time physically, there is no problem with that. It is five days before the game but, as you said, the timing wasn't particularly great."
The squad arrived at the club's facility in Wast Hills on Tuesday morning for training as usual. McLeish reiterated to the players that they have a responsibility to the club and fans. He had a second meeting with the players who had stayed out late.
Birmingham require three points at White Hart Lane on Sunday to be certain of survival. However, they have won just two of their past 11 league games, a run culminating in a wretched 2-0 home defeat against Fulham on Sunday.
Despite the manner of the result and the fact that it left Birmingham above the relegation zone only on goal difference, McLeish launched a vigorous defence of his players in his post-match press conference. "It is a test of character and these players have shown the character time and time again," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)