Erik Sviatchenko has been talking to the media back home, and announcing his frustration at being made to sit on the subs bench, recently, due to Brendan going with the central defence of Simunovic and Boyata. The manager is on the record as saying he wants to bring another centre half to the club in the summer; Erik’s job is only going to get harder.
With all respect to him – and he’s been a fine player and is a big asset – he’s not going to resolve any of this by running to the press. He might not be used to being a sub, or being dropped, but he’s going to have to suck it up for the time being. He’s looked shaky in recent games, and that’s why he’s out of favour at the moment.
Brendan is a manager who doesn’t suffer fools and he doesn’t play favourites. Every player is only as good as his last game. Slip, even a little, and this guy will be all over you. He’s got a sense by now of who he can rely on, consistently, and who he can’t. The way to impress this guy, and win him over, is to do it on the park, and in training. I suspect he’ll be highly unimpressed by anyone who thinks he can do his talking through the media.
The solution is simple; work harder. Do more. Become undroppable.
He has to make it so that the manager cannot imagine his starting eleven without Erik in it, the way Armstrong has made himself indispensable in the midfield. That guy has transformed his fortunes and won his first international cap by digging in and becoming a better player. He has just won the Player of the Month award for March.
If Erik feels as if the manager is being unfair to him he needs to think that through. No player was further out on the fringes than the guy who’s replaced him in the team; Dedryck Boyata was miles from being in Brendan’s thinking. Now he’s in the centre of it all.
Leigh Griffiths has been out of the side for months, and the manager actually told the press and thereby the fans why this was the case, and Brendan’s logic was so right on there was very little dispute about it. In the aftermath, Leigh has worked harder and his comments since have shown the right level of determination, exactly the reaction the manager wanted.
There is a positive sign in the interview that Erik gets it.
“It is not ideal and it is a situation I must deal with,” he said. “If Brendan Rodgers has decided that I am third choice, I will do everything to prove that I must be one of the two in the middle. It is obviously a tiresome situation, especially when I’ve had such a big role until July and then not be as dominant as I’d expected. Right now it’s frustrating.”
It must be. But some of his shaky displays have been frustrating to watch; I thought he looked very off the pace against Sevco recently.
A moment like this can tell a manager a lot about a player. Erik’s specific mention of July is a bit unusual as he was actually starting regularly until this year; does this hint at certain issues with him and the boss? There will be only one winner in that head-to-head.
Erik is important to this team, but that’s the operative word here; team. He needs to remember that the greater good comes first. He needs to dig in. This is the point where the manager will learn the most valuable lesson there about the players in his charge, and how Erik copes in the next few weeks will decide what his immediate future at Celtic Park is.
I hope he does what’s right.