Richie Wellens has delivered a resounding message to his Swindon Town players after they missed a chance to close the gap on the teams above them this week.
They were held 0-0 by Newport in a game that could have seen them go above both Colchester and Carlisle. With Exeter losing away at Macclesfield, the Robins could have put themselves right in the play-off mix.
Instead, they shared the spoils with the Exiles. Wellens also dropped keeper Lawrence Vigouroux after a bust up last week which stemmed from the stopper missing training at short notice for a funeral.
Wellens warned that the players either play by his rules, or don’t play at all.
“I ignored Lawrence (on Monday), I didn’t speak to him,” he told the Gazette and Herald. “I’m happy that he pulled me off the training ground. We had some lunch at the hotel, and I pulled him in for a meeting.
“I told him what I want, and said I have certain values that I will not change for anyone. You have to have honesty and respect at a club.”
That lesson is one he hopes the rest of his squad understands as they prepare for a promotion assault next season.
“I won’t allow players to not train properly, and then be in the matchday squad. If that means dropping five experienced players, then I’m killing myself.”
Wellens took over from veteran boss Phil Brown earlier in the season and has seen his side climb towards the top seven with a series of promising displays.
It seems harsh to drop a player for going to a funeral, but the way these things are handled is important.
Wellens was an experienced professional who applied certain standards to himself that he now expects from his players.
He’s going to have a big future in management if he keeps the same attitude and rate of development as the last six months.