Robbie Earle: Micky Adams and Tony Pulis show who is the boss
PLAYERS hold all the power in the modern game, don't they?
Well, maybe not, because at Stoke City and Port Vale there's no doubt who is in charge.
Both Micky Adams and Tony Pulis have recently had to exert their power over talented individuals, to let the rest of the dressing room know who calls the shots.
At the Vale last week, the influential Ryan Burge was not only late for a team meal before the Bristol Rovers game, but also then turned to Twitter to explain to his followers that he had been dropped.
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Having been offered the opportunity to apologise for both offences, Burge apparently initially refused and so landed himself a two-week suspension.
Not good news for the player, but not good news for the club either as you need your best players available, especially in the most crucial period of the season.
Injuries and FA suspensions are things you accept as inevitable over the course of a 46-game season, but it must hurt all parties concerned that this is a self-imposed ban.
Down the road at Stoke, winger Jermaine Pennant, or rather his absence, continues to frustrate.
Stoke need attacking flair and pace in a side that is struggling to open up Premier League defences. Pennant has proven in the past he has the tools to offer another dimension to Tony Pulis's team.
Unfortunately it seems there has been some kind of fall out between player and manager, because on pure ability Pennant would at least warrant a place in the current squad.
I'm not sure how accurate reports are about a missed a curfew, but it looks like Pulis has decided he needs to make his mark and Pennant is completely out in the cold for now.
Both Micky Adams and Tony Pulis will have given some thoughts to their actions because denying yourself your better players is no easy decision.
While I make reference to Burge and Pennant I don't know either personally and so don't want to paint a picture of them as bad characters.
I too have had my moments and vividly recall a time in my early days at the Vale when I missed a curfew after a pre-season game away in Exeter.
A couple of team-mates and I thought we could sneak back to our hotel rooms unnoticed an hour later than we were allowed.
Unfortunately for us, a certain bald-headed gentleman was sitting in the hotel lobby patiently awaiting our return.
Having given us an almighty rollicking and sending us to bed, Mr Rudge spent the night deciding his best course of action in the morning.
I was gutted to be told at breakfast that I was to pack my bags immediately, head back to Vale Park at my own expense to train with the reserves, and would be fined two weeks' wages.
Having to suffer the fine and leave the training camp was embarrassment enough. But when you are on the grand sum of £125 per week and the train from Exeter to Stoke cost £55, then that bloody hurts too.
On my train ride home it was probably fortunate that, unlike Burge, I didn't have any Twitter followers.
It is probably the one and only time John Rudge and I had a serious falling out. It only took me a short time to fully understood the errors of my ways and learn the lessons of being professional and the disciplines required.
Looking back, although I was then an important member of that team in the early 1980s, I recognise 'The Gaffer' needed to establish his authority and teach me a lesson. It served me well for the rest of my career.
There will always be periods in the manager's tenure when he has to show who is in charge. Dealing with an individual doesn't only affect the player in question, it also sends a very loud and clear message to the rest of the group.
I wonder if Sir Alex Ferguson was letting everyone know who is boss when he left Wayne Rooney on the bench in the second leg of the Champions League tie against Real Madrid.
There was a time, not that long ago, when Rooney's name would have been the first on the United team-sheet.
So the embarrassment to the club's biggest star, with the football world watching, must have been extremely difficult for Rooney to swallow.
But swallow it he did, for at 27 years of age he was wise and mature enough to recognise that this was Sir Alex giving him a serious shot across the bows.
I believe it was a very public lesson to let everyone know who is still the main man.
While Rooney most certainly got the intended message, the wily Scot knew everyone else in that United dressing room felt the impact of his actions too.