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Watching the debate that followed the accidental clash that left Hugo Lloris concussed but adamant on remaining on the pitch in Tottenham’s game away at Everton has been interesting. Sadly, a good portion of the discussion quickly turned into criticism of Tottenham’s Andre Villas Boas, something that is symptomatic of his inability to win some people over.
There is, in my view, no doubt that keeping Lloris on the pitch was a needless risk that could have ended badly. Yet, as this article brilliantly explains (more eloquently and with greater academic backing than I ever could) it isn’t simply a case of pointing at Villas Boas or trying to determine who made a mistake. The truth is that the decision was inevitable given the sports culture.
A coach’s ultimate obligation – particularly when he’s dealing with younger age players – is towards the health of his players. Some of the responsibility lies with the players themselves – a player might insist on being considered for a game despite feeling ill during the preceding night – but the coach will have more information than anyone else at the club so the call is wholly his.
That is something that all coaches need to remember because thereisn’t that much difference between Villas Boas’ decision to allow Lloris to stay on the pitch and a youth team manager pressurising his star to play despite having some injury. How many careers have been ruined by coaches overplaying a player or choosing to ignore his complaints about an injury?
It is hypocritical to say that Villas Boas was wrong but then ignore the little decisions that are routinely made and which put players’ health at risk. Many coaches in youth football claim that for them winning isn’t important but looking at the decision that they make when there’s an important game involved might perhaps indicate otherwise.
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