Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes on leaving the bench

The Mail on Sunday made a big fuss about Frank Lampard leaving the Chelsea bench after being an unused substitute in Chelsea's win over Swansea City at the weekend. All anyone knows - except, perhaps, Frank Lampard - is that with only minutes left in the match, the England midfielder walked down the player's race.

 Chances are that there was nothing in his actions; he thought it best to retreat to the rooms for treatment or something similar. It's been one of the most trying professional times for Lampard as he struggles with possible slips down the pecking order for club and country. A storm in china crockery of course, but if, just if, his actions were a protest at his removal from the Chelsea starting lineup - in which he's been a fixture since moving from West Ham - he's committed a protest of the immature and selfish.

courtesy: dailymail.co.uk
 A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a former girlfriend of mine who played professional basketball told me how proud she was that she had quit the bench after being subbed in a big loss. I was astounded she'd done so; and asked how she'd react if a teammate had done likewise. She wasn't complimentary to this fictional teammate, only then realising that was how she was now perceived. She was so wrapped up in her own reality that the perceptions of her teammates didn't even register.

That explained a lot, because a lack of understanding about how teammates will react in certain situations indicates of a lack of team chemistry and that the needs of one are put above the needs of many. Sport is littered with similar examples, ranging from the Detroit Pistons' unnecessary player strike (the coach was going to be fired anyway) to citing examples of opponents failing to shake hands. As a player - or manager - your voice is important and, contrary to occasional opinion, heard. It's just not the only voice a coach has to listen to.

Teenagers see the importance of making regular statements - with clothes, music and in many other facets of life. Making statements just be heard, especially leaving the bench to make a protest, is a juvenile act made by people used to getting their own way. I don't believe Frank Lampard is one of those players; here's hoping he returns to the Chelsea side in coming weeks.

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