It’s one of the fundamental principles of man-management in football…
When one your players comes under attack in public, 99.999% of the time, you go to bat for him.
However angry you might be privately and however you’ve handled things in-house, when you step in front of the media to field questions, you become a human shield.
That’s what you get paid for. It’s how you build trust in a squad. It’s something good managers do.
It was hardly surprising, then, to see Dundee United boss Micky Mellon attempt a general defence of Mark Connolly after he was asked about the defender’s looming SFA disciplinary hearing.
Without getting into the specifics of Connolly’s case – which involves an alleged breach of public health guidelines in a taxi and which has been investigated by United – Mellon set out to question whether such incidents fall under the jurisdiction of Scottish football’s governors.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “Does everything we now do outside of football that’s not immediately to do with the football decision-makers, are we all going to get punished for that now?
“Are we moving into that scenario? If you get done for speeding, are you going to get banned for a game?
“I don’t know where it goes. That’s a bit of a weird precedent but the decision has been made and we’ve got to go along with it.”
Under normal circumstances, Mellon’s argument would stand a good chance of holding water.
What a professional footballer does away from the pitch, for the most part at least, shouldn’t necessarily be subject to the quasi-legal scrutiny of football’s lawmakers.
But in a world – never mind a country – shackled by regulations aimed at preventing the rapid spread of a deadly new virus, normal circumstances are no more.
Premiership football is only being played in Scotland because the game has agreed to abide by stringent Covid-19 protocols.
As the governing body, the SFA are absolutely entitled to establish whether those protocols have been breached and whether any such breach stands in contravention of the game’s laws and procedures.
If the blazers aren’t seen to take their responsibilities seriously, the Scottish Government have already proved they are willing to step in – and after two increasingly hostile interventions from a visibly irritated First Minister, another Nicola Sturgeon two-footer is the last thing our game needs.
Micky Mellon may be a good man-manager, but even he would struggle to defend against that.
Dundee have been idling all summer.
But after a week of good news stories, the Dark Blues are revving up once again.
First there was confirmation of the High Court ruling that offered renewed hope of a Covid-19 insurance pay out.
Then lifelong Dee Charlie Adam put pen to paper at Dens Park after weeks of speculation.
Then word that former United striker Nadir Ciftci is on Dundee’s radar arrived to really put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Some Dees will say the Ciftci story isn’t good news.
I couldn’t disagree more with that viewpoint.
But however you look at it – whether you’d have Ciftci at Dens or whether you wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole – his being linked is a sign of a club coming back to life.
For the first time in ages, it feels like things are moving for Dundee – and moving in the right direction.
An insurance payout would be fantastic, Charlie Adam’s signing IS fantastic and the Ciftci rumour is fantastic theatre.
Those are all things worth celebrating.
Scottish football has just enjoyed a Euro glory night.
But I fear our European numbers are about to be halved.
Well done to Aberdeen, Motherwell and Rangers on joining Celtic in the next round.
However, if the Dons beat Sporting Lisbon on Thursday I’ll be stunned, while Motherwell face a tricky trip to Israel.
I reckon both will suffer a dose of travel sickness, leaving the Old Firm as lone survivors.