In no way would I advocate some of the despicable behaviour shown on a football pitch in recent years, with high profile players in major European Leagues and even on the biggest International stage of them all falling foul of their own demons. However, I feel a line has to be drawn somewhere, particularly with the whole idea that every move a footballer makes is copied by youngsters. Yes, diving and other matters on the pitch influence the impressionable kids in academies and at grassroots level, but with players seemingly being forced to shake hands at every possible moment with every person who dares step within twenty metres of them, we are detracting from the football that is actually being played.
The latest example is Sean Clohessy at Colchester United, who at 31 years old, has probably shaken more hands in his career than many around the League. Each side is already forced to show respect through handshakes before the whistle is blown for the game to start, and the congratulations and commiserations after the match are a tradition which I admire and believe it shows great sportsmanship. However, we do not expect office workers, labourers, and drivers etc. to be constantly happy and getting on well with colleagues, so footballers shouldn’t have to either. It would become annoying if we were forced to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at every waking moment, but expecting a player who has been substituted for a poor performance in the game to then thank the manager for saving him from further turmoil is just ridiculous.
The issue is not with the refusal of Clohessy to acknowledge Tony Humes’ offer of a handshake after the change, but the public show which has led to the manager questioning the right-back’s future. Perhaps, from an outside perspective, it would be more pertinent for the manager of a team in a perilous state, down in the doldrums of League One, to offer advice or instructions to the players on the pitch. Then again, I am not manager of Colchester United, and probably with good reason.
Humes was probably embarrassed at being shown up by the defender, but there was no inclination of malicious intent or threat of a touchline row with his manager. The defender was clearly annoyed at both his own performance, and probably the fact he didn’t have a chance to perform better in the rest of the game. Of course we do not have access to the dressing room so maybe events escalated after the game, but that is not for me to speculate.
Humes told BBC Sport whilst in the process of publicly announcing that Clohessy would not be selected against Rochdale on Saturday, ‘this football club is about building a team and togetherness’, before isolating a player from the matchday squad. What is clear is that Colchester need to focus on putting together a good run of results and climbing out of the drop zone, and then once safety is assured, if safety is assured, Clohessy may be allowed to join in the celebrations, and hopefully a congratulatory handshake, or no club will ever sign him again of course.