Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal spared little thought for the notoriously fragile confidence of the centre-forward when explaining why he agreed to sell Danny Welbeck to Arsenal, telling reporters:
“He doesn’t have the record of [Robin] Van Persie or [Wayne] Rooney and that is the standard. That is why we let him go.”
In doing so he tapped into a rich verbal history of harsh truths meted out from managers to players who were either in, or formerly in, their care.
Despite his reputation as a manager who breeds confidence in his charges, Harry Redknapp for instance, has plenty of previous.
Dave Nugent told the Mirror he considered quitting the game after a deflating spell at Portsmouth, but Redknapp informed the press:
“I had good reports from some people I worked with who fancied Nugent and I went with it. We all make mistakes. But I’m quite happy to say to everybody I wasn’t convinced when I took him that I was making the right move.”
Later at Tottenham he further honed his understanding of the footballer’s psyche, zinging his faltering centre-forward Darren Bent:
“You will never get a better chance to win a match than that. My missus could have scored that one.
“Bent did not only have part of the goal to aim for, but he had the entire net – and he put it wide. Unbelievable.”
Perhaps Redknapp’s sharp tongue was the product of a cycle of abuse like Martin O’Neill.
When the Republic Ireland boss was a young winger at Nottingham Forest he asked Brian Clough asked why he was playing in the second team, to which Clough responded:
“Because, Martin, you are far too good for my third team.”
Hardly any wonder that O’Neill occasionally felt the need to do the same to his own players, such as when keeping it extremely real with Robbie Savage:
“I once said to him: You’ve got everything a footballer needs… except ability.”
Ex-Southampton boss Dave Jones had little more sensitivity for former-England workhorse Carlton Palmer:
“Carlton covers every blade of grass on the pitch – but then you have to if your first touch is that crap.”
Giovanni Trapattoni was at least more evocative in his assessment of the prospects of Paolo Di Canio making his Italy squad for the World Cup in 2002:
“There will have to be a bubonic plague for me to pick Di Canio.”
However, as so often is the case, it’s left to former Man Utd skipper Roy Keane to set the bar, with his reaction to the news that Sunderland loanee Clive Clarke had suffered a heart attack:
“On a night we got beaten in the cup by Luton, the staff came in and said, ‘Clive Clarke has had a heart attack at Leicester’. I said, ‘Is he OK? I’m shocked they found one, you could never tell by the way he plays’.”