Managers are used to carrying the can for players' failings on the pitch, but tomorrow lunchtime Micky Adams will endeavour to explain, excuse or generally expound on the circumstances that led to his Leicester City squad skulking back from a break in Spain short of three of their number.
Adams will face questions from the press at the Walkers Stadium on what led to three players, Paul Dickov, Keith Gillespie and Frank Sinclair, being incarcerated in a Spanish jail through the weekend while police investigated the events at the team's La Manga hotel that brought complaints from three German women. The players face charges of sexual aggression.
As the players' families headed to Spain, Leicester were taking legal advice in the hope of securing an early release for their squad members. Leicester's operations manager, Paul Mace, said: "Legal representatives are already working around the clock to try and make things happen as speedily as possible."
Things can quickly get out of hand when a group of young men are together in a hotel and intent on enjoying themselves. What takes longer is resolving any problems that arise. Leicester and La Manga don't mix. The club have had trouble in the sport-orientated luxury resort before. They were asked to leave their hotel there four years ago after Stan Collymore's attempt to bond with his new team-mates involved him in letting off a fire extinguisher in the bar area.
Why Leicester chose to go back is something else that Adams will be invited to explain. Warm-weather training in the middle of winter has its attractions, but not to all. Arsenal's Arsène Wenger is one manager to whom the idea has little appeal, and Arsenal also have a ban on alcohol, to help players control themselves. Wenger said: "When we are together, we don't drink. You know when a guy is drinking. I grew up in the French equivalent of a pub and I have no problem in seeing whether a guy is drinking or not. You know straight away.
"I don't think that someone who drinks very heavily can survive now in the game. To be a top-level sportsman, you need to have control of your life. On the bus, when you're driving back and the guys drink a beer or two, they'll get into their own cars back at the training ground. If they have an accident, you have a responsibility for that."
Responsibility is something that critics think well-paid professional footballers lack. But the majority do work in the community in their spare time, often inspired by their clubs. The Professional Footballers' Association, the players' union, stress that it is the misbehaviour of the minority that hits the headlines, and that the charity work and community work of the majority goes unnoticed.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA's chief executive, yesterday warned against "trial by media" at a time when few people outside the Leicester camp have any idea of what happened in La Manga. "Football is in the eye of the media, and so such allegations and incidents as this do get blown up," he said. "People these days worry that we do have trial by media. We should be assuming innocence until proven guilty."
But none of those fretting in a Spanish jail over what the police will conclude from their investigations could be considered a callow youth unaware of his responsibilities. Frank Sinclair is a 32-year-old who won the FA Cup with Chelsea and played in the World Cup finals for Jamaica. Paul Dickov, a 31-year-old Scot, began his career at Arsenal and arrived at Leicester via Manchester City with a reputation for being a waspish, pesky player on the pitch.
Keith Gillespie is a 28-year-old Northern Ireland winger, who began his career at Manchester United and has never fulfilled his early promise. He has "previous" at a club-bonding exercise while with Newcastle United, falling out with Alan Shearer during a trip to Dublin to such a degree that the former England captain knocked him to the pavement outside a bar.
Evidence of past misdemeanours does not suggest guilt in this case, but it might lead clubs to reassess the potential profit and loss from such club training breaks.Reuse content