David Preece; I loved Jack Ross' needle - and it's exactly what Sunderland need
If there’s one thing I love in football, it’s a bit of frisk. You know, a bit of needle. Handbags. A bit of afters.
I may have mentioned this before. Nothing untoward, you understand. Just enough to get the adrenaline pumping and your pupils dilating.
To some it might show a lack of control and discipline but when times are troubled it can be uniting.
It’s what you want to see and as such, I was devastated this week when two of our boys got their Louis Vuittons out and proceeded to waft them in the direction of one another.
Not a big deal or anything to worry about but as luck would have it, we have a three- camera video system that catches everything that happens on the pitch during training for us to analyse every session so I could at least take a look at what happened.
What actually happened was a bit of unnecessary physical contact ending in a nose-measuring competition.
Seconds later, they walk off the pitch with an arm around each other and in fact, become closer because of their altercation.
Making what many perceive as a negative situation into something healthy.
When pressure is applied to a group of players, emotion and frustrations bubble to the surface, manifesting itself in these incidents. Most of the time, they are like a release of steam from a pressure cooker and not only that, they reveal the competitive edge that got them to this point where they are making a life for themselves out of the game.
“Edge” is a word that I hear a lot in reference to players who have a certain mentality that takes them above the norm.
I even say it myself when you watch a player and he just has that grit and determination that won’t be picked up on any metric or machine.
Every player who makes it past youth team level has the “edge”, the immeasurable X factor.
You can describe it as “wanting it more” but in every aspect of their game, not just in running faster or further than their opposite number.
With the edge also comes ruthlessness and irrationality and that’s why we see flare-ups.
Quite often, if you lose the edge, you lose the player and more than fitness or ability, it’s what a player should strive hardest to hold on to and it’s exactly the same with managers.
It wasn’t just the shoving shenanigans of this weeks training that brought me to thinking of this.
I actually loved reading Jack Ross’s comments on the negativity from fans over his side’s start to the season in The Echo last week after the Accrington game.
As well as having a cast iron belief in your work, you also have to defend yourself against what you see as undeserved and whatever has been aimed at him has been sufficient to spark a response, which I like.
Even club legends aren’t bullet- proof and Jack has a long way to go to become one, but it’s good to see this kind of response.
It shows a human side, removing the mask put on for the media.
This wasn’t some kind of self-promotional spin that can be orchestrated by some managers to keep up or build their public persona.
I don’t even think it was said to try and quell the doubts fans have about him, of which there are more than a few.
What it does show is that he still has that edge that has brought him to where he is now.
It might not have been a scuffle on the training pitch or a Colemanesque exchange at the front gates of the Stadium of Light, but underneath that measured exterior we usually see in front of the cameras, it shows that he is going to stand up for himself and his team, that he cares and just like our two players pans boiling over, that is what I want to see.
More and more, football is filled with more folk whose priorities lie away from the field, so when I see people who care in the same way that I did and still do, then that’s never a bad thing in my book.