Brendan Rodgers was absolutely right to leave James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez out of Leicester’s clash with West Ham.
And what I want to know is how many blinkin’ times do these lads need telling?
Maddison is only 24, yet that’s two blots on his copybook already with the casino incident.
And even though I love his swagger, and the fact he’s cocky and confident, the issue now is that it’s not just Rodgers withdrawing him from a huge game that he has to worry about.
That’s because those in positions of power at Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid will be taking note, too, and that’s not what he wants at this stage of a promising career.
A lot of my issues and trusting the wrong people came a bit later, between 27 and 30.
And I know they cost me because I was told by a number of scouts and managers that they’d be looking at me but the question marks stopped them taking a chance.
I spoke to Martin O’Neill about Celtic when I was done in England and I’d have loved to have gone there, but he didn’t sign me because he was worried how I’d react under the spotlight in Glasgow.
So I guarantee that, with respect to Leicester, people will be asking, ‘If Maddison has now popped up twice there, what would he be like in Manchester or London?’
The message I’d like to send him, then, is, ‘Look, James, I’ve been where you are, you’re a good-looking boy, you have disposable income, you’re a good footballer and there are temptations, but you have to keep your eye on the prize’.
Because, for the sake of a day or night out, these things can easily delay what a player wants to achieve by a year or two, or in extreme cases for ever.
I’m certain Maddison will want to be at the Euros and next year’s World Cup, and the midfield is the most competitive area of England’s squad.
So Gareth Southgate might look at it and say, ‘You know what, I’ll take a good Steady Eddie instead because, being away for a month, what’s to say he won’t decide to drag a Jadon Sancho or Phil Foden out to a bar one night?’
When I was at Liverpool, I wasn’t part of the Spice Boys group because I didn’t live in the city and had my own set of mates, but we all got caught up in it.
And when I or we did go out, we’d often be in the same bars, restaurants and clubs as the Manchester United boys, but the difference was they were winning trophies so nobody said a thing about them.
There’s always a time and a place to let down your hair in football, and during lockdown, if players wanted a few drinks they could have done it with team-mates in the players’ lounge.
And while some of you will say there have been plenty of twenty-somethings getting together for a drink this past year — and I get that, they’re young, they make mistakes — people don’t give two hoots about most of them.
About the likes of Maddison, though, they do, particularly recruitment specialists.
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