Mitch Cook’s Column: The dangers of social media

James McClean
James McClean

Social media is now a big part of sport and as we have seen in the incident with Republic of Ireland youngster James McClean it can be something of a problem.

McClean made comments about Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni on twitter after he was dropped for a clash last weekend and the whole affair has kicked up something of a storm.

As a manager you either have to accept Facebook and twitter or not. I don’t particularly like either, but everyone has it and can access it now, so if that is the way it is going to be then you just have to get on with it.

At the top level it can be controlled better with club rules or laws, but you can’t stop a player’e emotions taking over.

In my day we’d sit and sulk in the bar, whereas now you can jump straight on your phone and say what you think.

We had to be brave enough to confront the manager, if you weren’t then you had to wait until Monday morning, when you had most probably calmed down.

I remember one incident when Billy Ayre was manager. I went to see him and he told me that I had to see him in my time, so I drove over to Blackpool on a Sunday for a chat. That was the last time I did that.

Now players, with the emotion still in them, are tapping away on twitter within half-an-hour of the game finishing.

Part of the training of these young players should focus on this kind of thing at the top level, especially if it is going to cause these problems.

There is the incident this weekend about the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand handshake. Will they or won’t they?

This has been discussed heavily on social medias and already it has sparked a few issues.

Rio Ferdinand was fined £45,000 for what he said about the court case between the two, which wasn’t a touch on what Terry was alleged to have said on the pitch to Rio’s brother.

If you set up a level playing field about what is and what isn’t acceptable then it will obviously help.

Certain clubs like Nottingham Forest have banned it in the past, but that sets up situations when you could have a huge fall-out with the manager.

I still think the way to sort something is to go to their face like we used to. If you have got a problem sort it man to man.

Twitter, Facebook and fans forums can go both ways though.

If somebody says something nice about you then you love it, if somebody criticises you then people feel the need to bite back.

Even down at our level phones are banned an hour before kick-off and then 20 minutes after full-time at Bridlington Town, you have these rules in place for a reason.

You would have thought that at international level there would be similar rules in place to stop things like this going on.

Phones can be useful during games, as we saw the other year when Ben Foster was shown videos of where players put the ball in the penalty shoot-out and Birmingham won the cup.

I take mine with me, but I use it as a stopwatch and nothing more.