Leeds United: Forwards must take rough with the smooth – Ritchie

Chris Wood applauds the United fans.
Chris Wood applauds the United fans.
16
Have your say

CHRIS WOOD has been the brunt of some criticism from Leeds United supporters in the early part of the season already – and while it can be difficult for a player when you are getting some stick, you just have to get on with it.

The tough times can be a little bit unfair, but you have to take it. It is part and parcel of the job.

Getting criticism is an occupational hazard as a professional footballer and you shouldn’t expect to go through your entire career without getting a bit of flak off people.

In terms of how you deal with the situation as a manager, sometimes it is a case of putting your arm around a player and having a word.

You certainly monitor it because you know the player and person and see them in training and if a player looks as though he might be down in training and not performing, it’s a case of speaking to them.

But there is nothing more of a confidence boost than getting picked every week, is there?

If the manager feels that you are not doing a job and performing for the team, then he won’t pick you, simple as that.

The biggest fillip that you can get is that you are in the side.

Some fans, whatever club you go to, will always be fickle, you can never get away from that. But if the criticism gets too much, it can get counter-productive.

At the moment, Wood seems to be keeping it under control and still doing his job which is getting on the scoresheet as he did with the late equaliser against Fulham in midweek and that is what he has got to continue to do.

Getting stick is not an ideal situation. People talk about players trying or not trying and he will be trying his hardest every time he goes out there, I’m sure.

I actually do feel a little bit sorry for him when he does play up front on his own as I don’t think that is really his best role. He is not a sprinter and the quickest and sometimes when you are asked to do that role, you must have a bit of pace and be able to stretch defences behind.

If that is not your natural game, it is hard. It is unfortunate for him and he is doing his best, clearly. I think most players can expect to get criticism off supporters every now and again. I was actually lucky in that wherever I was in my career, I was quite well liked by my own fans – which, I suppose, is out of the norm.

I felt quite lucky in not getting much stick – I probably got more off opposing fans than my own, to be honest!

When I was playing, we actually used to get more stick off our own side, which you just do not seem to see any more. It is a bit of a dying art; we would hammer each other on the pitch to try and get the best out of each other. It was part of it.

Back then, there was a lot of mickey-taking and stuff which was designed to get you going basically. It was vitriolic sometimes and you just don’t seem to get it these days.

I have got to say that these days, most modern-day players wouldn’t be able to take it.

But for me, players must have something about them. Yet with the way that the academy system is now, you are probably not allowed to give out a rollicking as it might be seen as bullying or whatever.

But, for me, all that can produce a soft mentality sometimes.

Situations can now be highlighted by social media and stuff like that. For sure, if I was still a footballer, I would not be on Twitter or Facebook. Even now, I am not on it.

I just wouldn’t bother but it is a different world now. Players have grown up with it and I never had it.

But it does make me think sometimes when players seem to get back into the changing rooms and tweet stuff out so soon after a game. Some of the stuff that seems to come out just amazes me.

Obviously, Leeds are still awaiting their first win and I was interested to read Garry Monk’s comments about a soft mentality after the Birmingham game. He obviously said it to gee the players up and try and get a reaction.

Sometimes, as a manager, you say those sort of things, even though you might not really think it as you just want a reaction pretty quick.

It can be mind games with players and a tool that you can use as a manager.

One thing is for sure, Leeds could certainly do with an easier game than Sheffield Wednesday away after they drew in midweek and Garry will find out more about his players today.

NICE TO MEET YOU: Kalvin Phillips and Luke Ayling meet the Leeds fans on tour in Scwaz. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Phil Hay’s Leeds United Tour Diary: Touchline rubdowns, singin’ in the rain, a ‘horse’ called Junter and how ‘The Axe’ was tamed ...