Everyone was scratching their head when the news came out.
Why was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench?
And then some more news leaked. That it was for disciplinary reasons.
Social media speculation then went into over drive. Why did he do wrong? Was it break Covid protocol? Was it for interacting with idiots on social media? What had he actually done wrong? And if is was for disciplinary reasons, why was he still on the bench?
As the game was going on, the reason was leaked. He had turned up late for the pre-match meeting, and it was not for the first time.
Mikel Arteta has spoken numerous times since he became manager about expecting players to do the basics. His non-negotiables. And one of these is clearly time keeping.
Good time keeping is a basic in any work place. It takes no skill or ability to turn up on time.
Those in a work place that show good time keeping and good attendance usually become high performers. It sets the tone for the rest of your work.
And if you are in a position of responsibility – a manager, team leader or senior member of staff – good time keeping becomes even more important. You set the town for the rest to follow. You set a good example.
Aubameyang as captain needs to realise that his behaviours set the tone of the dressing room. It influences his team mates from senior through to the youth teams. If he is turning up late and getting away with it, others will begin doing so.
Arteta also needs to hold Aubameyang, and other senior players, to the same standard as he would hold Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe or any other youngster.
If he let Aubameyang get away with tardiness, but then punished a youngster, he would soon lose respect for the dressing room.
In recent years, poor behaviour from senior players have caused the club to rot from the core.
Mesut Ozil was well known for missing training sessions. He was rarely “punished”.
Aubameyang has replaced Ozil as the clubs best paid player.
Arteta needs to nip in the bud Aubameyang’s undesirable behaviour traits.
If h let Aubameyang get away with it, the behaviour would soon spread to the rest of the players. And in turn we end up back in the toxic, ill disciplined position that Arteta is trying to eradicate.
What is worrying from Aubameyang’s point of view is he seemingly showed little to no resource.
Reports are that as the rest of the subs were going through a post-game training session and Arteta conducting post-game interviews, Aubemayng was screeching out the car park.
“Last in, first out.”
Arteta spoke well in his post match interview, making it clear that it would remain in-house and the situation had been dealt with. But it will be interesting to see if Aubameyang accepts responsibility. Apologises to the manager, the squad. If not this could rattle on and we could see Aubameyang stripped of the captaincy as a result.
By punishing Aubameyang, Arteta has drawn his line in the sand. Lateness is unacceptable, poor attendance unacceptable. Regardless of who you are. Every single player will be treated exactly the same.
And if you do not like it, you know where the door is.