Steve Coppell once used the quote “The best discipline is self discipline” – words that rang true and have been lodged with me ever since.
A loss of discipline seemed to cost two of my old teams, Chelsea and Oxford United, three points on Saturday, with no fewer than five red cards being shown between them.
It stemmed from one thing and one thing only, and that was frustration.
We have all felt it at some point – that feeling of annoyance you get when something doesn’t go as expected. On a football pitch, it can happen in a split second without prior warning.
Playing poorly, the referee not giving you any decisions, and losing the game are the most common ways to spark frustration in a player.
For me, one of the main forms of discipline in football is keeping your head, and that means through times of difficulty and extreme frustration.
In both games I mentioned earlier, all the red cards came late on, which suggests those factors were the cause of the loss of discipline.
Oxford United’s Tom Newey got a straight red and Michael Raynes a second yellow, both in last ten minutes of their game at Chesterfield.
They are not dirty players and their challenges were borne more out of frustration than anything else.
Chelsea’s Brazilian star Willian was very unlucky to receive a second yellow for what I thought was just a contact of legs rather than a trip.
A lot of fingers were pointed more at the referee than the player, and rightly so.
His poor decision – and with Aston Villa subsequently scoring – sparked the frustration in the whole Chelsea team and also the management on the bench.
That resulted in Ramires getting sent off, but it was a straightforward decision after the sort of foul tackle we don’t want to see in football anymore.
It deserved a red because it stemmed from pure frustration. No excuses. He is a top player and should keep his discipline.
The dismissal of manager Jose Mourinho from the dug-out also seemed a little harsh, but you leave yourself open when you vacate the technical area and also by being so vocal.
Most people expect managers to keep a cool head when others are losing theirs, but I think it’s always good to see your leader fighting just like you or maybe even harder.
Mourinho seemed to get more frustrated after the game in his interview, but he DID manage to keep his discipline then and not say anything that would have landed him in any more trouble!
In my time, I was shown the red card on five occasions, which I reckon isn’t too bad in a career that spanned 500 games.
I have sampled frustration which has led to that loss of discipline, resulting in a red card.
So I empathise with those players who got sent off on Saturday. Hopefully, the lack of discipline didn’t result in a loss in the pocket.