It’s been a testing week for managers on both sides of the border this week.
Proving that being a good coach just isn’t enough to be successful.
What is often lost in the tsunami of information of tactics, formations, styles and stats we are drowning in, is that at the very heart of being leader of a team or organisation is how you manage people on a human level.
As a football manager you’re smack bang in the middle of the storm, where the only solace and enjoyment can be found is on the training pitch or in the dug-out on match day.
Other than that you are constantly having to manage people downwards, upwards and to the side; be it your players, your staff, the board, the fans, agents or the media, and how you handle these relationships can go a long way in your quest for success.
Ask any manager and they will tell you football itself is the easiest part of the job but to be successful you have to be more than just tactically adept at setting up your side to win games.
Look at the problems that have cropped up this week for Mark Warburton at Rangers, Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, and Jose Mourinho at Manchester United.
They aren’t just managing teams, they’re managing individuals and how they handle just one problematic player can influence their standing amongst the rest of the squad.
It’s impossible for modern day managers to rule with an iron fist like they did in the past but there is still a need for a firm hand in leadership.
Past achievements and current results can dictate how strong a manager’s position is when confronted with these problems and the contrasting situations at Manchester City and Rangers are perfect examples of that.
Yaya Toure is not in Guardiola’s long-term plans and for reasons that are beyond me, his agent Dimitri Seluk is throwing Yaya’s toys out of his pram on his behalf.
And in doing so he is playing right into Pep’s hands and backing up his decision to leave out a player who has proved in the past to be petty and self-centred.
A great guy or not, by allowing his agent to speak negatively about his manager so publicly is only damaging to Toure himself.
Pep’s stock is high and Toure and his agent is simply handing him a another opportunity to assert his authority over his squad.
Ir reinforces the line drawn in the sand in his handling of Joe Hart, leaving the squad in no doubt as to who is in charge. Toe Pep’s line or you’re history.
Moving up the road to Glasgow and Mark Warburton has been placed in a difficult position by a combination of Joey Barton and an Old Firm fiasco.
If Rangers had begun the season in the same manner as Manchester City, the incident which led to Barton’s exclusion from training would not have occurred.
Yet even before the fallout, there were rumours of Barton’s dissatisfaction at promises of squad strengthening being broken and disagreements with his boss’s tactical approach to games.
The situation has now been allowed to turn into a drawn-out saga that just worsens the situation for everyone except Barton’s publishers and the editors of newspapers and websites across the land.
Whatever was said in that meeting, it wasn’t a mere airing of some home truths.
After bad defeats, the atmosphere can be toxic and brutal honesty comes much easier to players in the heated atmosphere of the dressing room.
But never have I ever experienced a player being expelled from the club for something they have said.
Fined, yes. Dropped from the starting 11, yes.
But told to leave the club and subsequently suspended for three weeks?
It’s a new one for me.
The story that has developed from Patrick van Aanholt’s withdrawal from the side at White Hart Lane is an intriguing one, not least because of the timing and the post-match miscommunication that followed.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the situation, the seriousness and possible consequences of such medical results can never be taken lightly due to the tragic loss of Marc-Vivian Foe and the dramatic scenes surrounding Fabrice Muamba at the very same stadium Sunderland were due to play at that afternoon.
Whilst playing for Odense in Denmark, we had a young Ghanaian player called Emmanuel Clottey, a small but very skilful 21-year-old striker. Prior to our UEFA Cup tie against Sparta Prague, we all attended the local hospital for an ECG as part of our pre-season MOT.
They discovered a heart defect Emmanuel had since birth and it was a big shock to us all when we were told the news.
Emmanuel was obviously devastated and returned to Ghana to recover from his treatment and continue his playing career at home, his dreams of European football dashed.
Had he not had those tests, he might still have gone on to have a successful career, unaffected by his condition. But then again, he might not. It’s a risk that isn’t with taking.
So whatever happened on Sunday, regardless of how the situation was handled, the most important thing is that Patrick’s best interests were taken into account and the correct decision was made.