””

Eye On EPL

Tough managers compelled to show who's the boss

When Jose Mourinho was named the new Manchester United manager, Juan Mata's worst nightmare came true.

Sure enough, The Special One wasted no time, sending the Spaniard on as a substitute during the Community Shield against Leicester and taking him off after half an hour, saying that he needed more height to counter the Foxes' aerial power.

In other words, Mourinho is calling Mata a shorty.

At nearby Manchester City, Pep Guardiola stopped Samir Nasri from training with the first team because the Frenchman was overweight. And these details were all over the press.

Likewise, Bastian Schweinsteiger, a former Germany captain and World Cup winner, and Joe Hart, England's No. 1 goalkeeper, find themselves frozen out at their clubs by Mourinho and Guardiola respectively.

When managers isolate players and give them the cold treatment, it is never pretty. But the managers have to show who is the authority. The faster they transfer the unwanted players out, the faster they can sign the men they want.

Mourinho is never one to hold his tongue, he is not one who forgets the past easily and he will do anything to get his way.

Mata might run harder and cover more ground to impress his boss but it is just a matter of time before he is gone. Schweinsteiger, who has a poor injury record, is training with the reserves and the message is clear: He has no future with the Red Devils now that Paul Pogba is at Old Trafford.

I was surprised to see Hart dropped because he was first choice for so long but that really demonstrates that Guardiola does not mess around when showing you who is really in charge.

He is not like Arsene Wenger, who has always kept faith in players who are below par. Now, Hart is just No. 1 in queue, waiting to be sold.

But that is a player's life. They have no choice but to move on. Christian Benteke may be a Belgian international and have a proven scoring record in the EPL, but he is smart enough to realise that Jurgen Klopp does not want him at Liverpool. So he made the right decision to sign for Crystal Palace.

When managers isolate players and give them the cold treatment, it is never pretty. But the managers have to show who is the authority. The faster they transfer the unwanted players out, the faster they can sign the men they want.

It may seem harsh and disrespectful, but that is the reality of top-level professional football. These top managers have to handle the super egos of multi-millionaire players. Even if they have to resort to humiliation, the bosses have to do it in order to push the players they do not want out of the exit door faster.

Alex Ferguson did that with David Beckham and Roy Keane. And there are many more examples. So unless you are Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no footballer is safe when these tough managers are around.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2016, with the headline 'Tough managers compelled to show who's the boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe