MTO | Player welfare and social media
Below is a summary of questions asked and answers given regarding player welfare and social media during the latest Meet The Owners event.
On players being booed
“I can’t speak for Danny but as a footballer you understand that when you play football that you’re going to get criticism.
“But the psychological security side of it is huge because what we’re trying to do is create a culture where players can go on the pitch and play with no fear. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re at home and you’re getting booed by your own fans, or you captain the club and you’re getting booed, but the best way of silencing those boos is by scoring the winner.
“You know Tom [Anderson] it’s like water off a duck’s back for him because he is 29/30 but when you’re talking 20/21 - Kyle Hurst, James Maxwell, Adam Long, players like that are experiencing it for the first time. We had to take that into consideration and not judge them on solely their performance. We have to try and improve and develop them
"It’s difficult when you’re a player because you create your own anxiety. You want to perform so well, so you put pressure on yourself. If there’s not positivity and the drive and the real support from supporters it can become very difficult.
“Is it tough? Yeah. Do I suffer on the touchline? Yes. I want the fans cheering the players and driving them on, so it can become a challenge. We want to be as one and I know results will help us create that and if we can be as one there’s definitely more chance to success. The strategy is in place to help the players through it.”
On social media
“Football, it’s ruthless and even more with social media. People can jump on anything at any point. You can be two minutes into the game and people can be criticising you and two minutes later you can score and they’re praising you.
"You bring someone in and you have to then look after that staff member, you have to make them feel valued and you have to make that staff member feel a part of that football club. That is relentless, coming in every day and especially with disappointment. Disappointment can be getting beat 3-0 away from home, disappointment can be the smallest things. I feel like there is a real collectiveness and togetherness, internally.
“It’s obvious how the fans feel with social media, with how they come and sometimes make themselves heard. A lot of it is understandable but a lot of it, we believe, isn’t if I’m being brutally honest. But internally and collectively we have to stay strong. I came off social media so I made a choice.
“I talk about the analogy of two doors in a room. If somebody told me if I was going to get abused by people, would you walk through the door? And I was like definitely not. So why would you choose to be on social media?
"Every single time I pick up my phone, if we’ve lost at the weekend, I’m getting verbally abused on the phone. So why would I choose to be on something when I would get verbally abused by people? I choose not to go on it and it makes me feel really good because my decision-making isn’t swayed by what a collective group of people are saying.
“Don’t get me wrong, people are entitled to their opinion and everybody should be entitled to their opinion because that’s football and that’s why we love playing football and being a part of a football club. But that doesn’t mean that those decisions should have an effect on the running of the football club.”
On supporting players
"I would pride myself on saying that in the back end of my career, I was probably one of the best in terms of dealing with set backs, dealing with disappointments, dealing with criticisms.
“It's about strategies. It’s about understanding areas that you can improve in. We’ve had conversations with players recently around those sort of things. There’s an internal pressure that you put yourself under as a player and sometimes it gets the better of you.
“But I think having somebody having that support, having them people to help you in them areas - there’s so many people that don’t know they can and we’ve had conversations recently with players that don’t understand that they can improve in that area. They think it’s just going out and working harder on technique or working harder in the gym."
"My question and challenge to the players, and we work on the mental side quite a lot, is to try to strive and thrive through adversity. Face obstacles and see obstacles as real challenges because I think the really successful footballers, they’ve nailed what’s in between the ears. I think they’ve probably come under the most scrutiny - David Beckham from the ’98 World Cup. These kind of players end up at the top.
“They’ve got to enjoy the hard moments. If you can enjoy that, thrive through it and overcome it, I think special things can be achieved. I think the ones who allowed it to affect them and they go into their shell, they’re the ones who suffer a little bit."
Questions asked on the night
- You talk about psychological security and presumably that’s more of a medium term goal. But in the here and now for instance, you have players coming off at half time and getting grinded by supporters and getting booed off. How can you deal with that in the here and now and to try and get through? It’s 0-0 and you could be coming off at 2-0 down with the fans are clapping them of. With certain players getting dogs’ abuse, how can you sort of work on that at half time and what you say to keep their heads and chins up?
Questions submitted prior to the event
- How much do you care about player welfare?
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