Football: Youssef Safri – You’ve Just Cost Us Promotion!

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It’s the Norwich City pre-season squad photo and there is no sign of Youssef Safri. For manager Peter Grant it’s the final straw. ‘I’ve hid behind it for a long time. So many things have been going on. If you don’t want to be here, it makes my decision easier’.

It tells us something about how tolerant Peter Grant is. ‘I’ve hid behind it for a long time’. Why? And at what price?

When England were building their rugby World Cup winning squad of 2003, Sir Clive Woodward and his team imposed a strict code. If you were late for a team-meeting you were informed, in no uncertain terms, that, ‘You have just cost us the World Cup’. What did he mean by that?

Being late meant that a habit or pattern of indiscipline was brought into the squad. If it’s in the squad then it can play itself out on the field. Unexpectedly. Costly. To win the World Cup requires the keenest of disciplines. Following the team code to the letter. Discipline off the field leads to discipline on the field.

Peter Grant might well have said to Safri, ‘You’ve just cost us promotion’. The fact that he has ‘hid behind it for a long time’, suggests that there are other skeletons in the collective closet. Habits and patterns that at some stage will derail a promotion bid.

Look how quick Roy Keane was to discipline players arriving late for the Championship away game at Barnsley. A few minutes late. The team bus had gone without them. Sloppy habits and patterns that could derail the promotion bid. Not a chance.

Grant would be well advised to draw some clear lines in the sand now. Tolerate nothing. He might lose some people on the way. But in the long-term he will increase the Canaries chances of promotion. And his stature as a leader.