Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Message Not Sent

As Columbus moves on from last Friday's terrible five-goal goal loss to Toronto FC we have learned two things. First: The team just wants to move on. There's nothing but ads about the upcoming "pups on the pitch event" from the team and there are little to no player quotes about the game. Second: Gregg Berhalter confirmed what many thought - Meram was benched.

The second thing there is concerning, but not surprising. Here is the quote:

“He’s been quite honestly he’s been one of our best attacking players if not the best. Him, Federico (Higuain), Ola (Kamara) have been our three most consistent attacking players,” Berhalter said. “It’s not easy but I looked at the game and it’s a message to the team that I think anyone can be taken out. The way the game was going, we made the decision that he was the one.”

Justin Meram isn't just one of the best attacking players on Crew SC, he's one of the best in MLS. On top of that, his form this year has been outstanding. So much so, you would be hard-pressed to find another player that has been in better form in recent Crew history.

Why bench Meram? The answer is very simple and one that Berhalter has struggled with since joining Columbus. "Path of least resistance." A benching of Higuain or Kamara would result in a lot of clean up duty. Multiple meetings and it would likely draw the eye of the league site and therefore more attention.

Benching Meram is also easier because is generally a good and loyal trooper. He'll take the hit and be back later this week in support of the action.

Berhalter even set this scenario up in his statement.

“I hope he’s not thrilled. I mean, he wasn’t thrilled, quite honestly, and we talked about it and the key to this whole thing is what we always say around here, which is, ’remain professional,’” Berhalter said. “Don’t be happy about it but remain professional about it and I think for the most part he did and that’s all I can ask of him."

Translation: Don't talk about it. Move on. Which Meram will do. Which is why he was chosen as the example.

I have never been a fan of this approah to man-management. It's a refusal to address issues directly with people and taking the easier road. Who was he trying to send a message too? Wil Trapp? Higuian? Just bench them if it's not working and deal with the fallout.

This type of management doesn't fix the problem, it only hides it. It's unfortunate for Meram. It'll be interesting to see how the next few weeks go for him. Hoping his good season continues.

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