Chris Coleman has warned his players their careers are too short to waste – and urged them to get some perspective on their current predicament.
Sunderland boss Coleman opted to give his players respite during this international break – from him, from each other and from the club’s situation.
A friendly game was considered but dismissed, Coleman of the opinion that such an approach is better suited to a team looking to maintain a positive rhythm. Sunderland clearly have no such thing.
Preparations were well and truly under way for the trip to Derby County tomorrow but they were put to one side for a visit to the Caterpillar plant in Peterlee this week.
Coleman hopes the trip will have given his players some perspective, urging them to embrace the pressure of the relegation fight that Sunderland currently look set to lose.
He said: “Our job, can I even call it that? When I was a player, I had no idea how lucky I was.
“You think it’s going to last forever and like that (Coleman clicks his fingers) it’s gone.
“I look back and think it was the best time of my life. This job is the second best.
“Even us, bottom of the league, looking for a new owner, it is a lot of negativity but we’re still lucky.
“Two massive games this weekend, what else would we rather be doing?
“Yeah we’d rather be top of the league, but we’re still lucky and I’m still looking forward to the weekend.”
Coleman’s playing career was of course cut short by injury and the Black Cats boss admits he does not always find it easy to work with the modern player.
He has urged his squad to show their fight in the remaining matches.
He said: “I was 30 and it was done and dusted for me.
“It was all about training and playing for me, that feeling of being in the tunnel before the game, being part of a team, I loved it. Playing in front of a crowd, all that.
“I don’t take kindly to people who take that for granted.
“Yeah we all take certain things for granted but I’ve got no time for anybody who is in it for the wrong reasons, you can probably guess that.
“Once I got to 25/26, I knew what it was all about, how lucky I was, but it was all over at 30,” he added.
“For that reason I’m probably not a good match up for certain players, because of my mentality and their mentality, people not getting out of it what they should be.
“Let’s say a player earns £5million for five years. There’s £25million in the bank, but it is a long life from 35 onwards, no matter what it is in the bank.
“Can you look back when you’re done, on a career you were lucky to have, and say you made the most of it? John O’Shea, he can. He’s 36, still plays every week, hasn’t missed a training session. Whether he plays good or bad, he doesn’t miss.
“When he hangs his boots up he can look back and say he’s squeezed every last drop out of it. He’ll have no regrets.
“Someone else may have another £20million more in the bank but they’ll be full of regrets. They don’t know it now but they will, and they should.”