Less than a week into his new role as Wolves boss, Dean Saunders is adamant that a sense of discipline will be one of the hallmarks of his time in the Molineux hotseat.
Saunders, who took his first training session on Monday ahead of Friday’s clash with Blackburn, insists that military-like discipline, both on and off the pitch, will be the key to turning around the club’s stuttering season.
In his pre-match press conference, he told the assembled media the respect and togetherness are among the other qualities his team must show.
“Without discipline at a club, you have nothing,” Saunders said.
“Football is a watered-down version of the Army, discipline-wise.
“In the Army, they make you clean your shoes, put your bed tidy, do things you don’t want to do, and you have to obey orders.
“The overall thinking on it is that when we go to battle – when it really matters – you get instructions that you must comply with.”
He continued: “You’re all together as a group and you get used to obeying instructions and respecting authority. It keeps everyone together on the same sheet.
“So if you go into a war, and two soldiers do their own thing, they get the rest killed.
“We’re not in the Army, but there have to be rules in place where players have to adhere to certain things.”
The manager was also keen to stress that those standards will not be allowed to slip when his team come off the training pitch, insisting that the players should ‘live their life properly’ away from the training ground.
He explained: “Such things as not being late for training, not leaving training kit on the floor, being in for treatment on time, living your life properly, not going away from here and going to McDonald’s… you take that on the pitch with you.
“They should eat like athletes – I don’t think Jessica Ennis stops at McDonald’s on her way home, looking at her.
“That’s discipline – as is being able to say ‘no’ to things that might make you play badly – it’s about respecting your team-mates and authority.
“When a manager tells you to do something, you do it.”
Despite this seemingly tough approach though, the former Welsh international is well aware of the importance of striking an appropriate balance when instilling a sense of discipline into modern professionals.
He said: “I’m not really ‘old school’. I think Graeme Souness packed in because it got harder and harder to discipline players because with the money they earn, they sometimes look at you and go ‘what are you on about?’
“Most proper professionals like discipline.
“They like to know where the line is and they don’t want to see other people not adhering to it because those people lose the respect of the group.
“If you’re the manager and you don’t do something about that, the rest of them don’t respect you, so you lose the group.
“So the rules are there, and if people break the rules, you have to act. Fining them and disciplining them gets the team right on the pitch.
“You take that on the pitch with you and if I shout something from the side, they don’t ask questions, they just do it.”
Looking ahead to the visit of Blackburn – where Saunders worked as a coach under Souness – the manager was eager for his players to start as they mean to go on, and again spoke of the need for togetherness within the club.
“We all get it right together and we all get it wrong together, but we’re together, instead of people doing their own thing around the building.
“Children have bad habits – you’re forever saying ‘tidy your bedroom’ because if you don’t tell them to do that, when they grow up, they’ll be untidy and sloppy all their lives.”
“Around this place, if you’re not doing things properly, it shows on the pitch and we’ll lose games,” he added.
“They’ll say ‘I forgot that corner’ or ‘I wasn’t listening’, so it’s all about discipline. Those little things make everyone switch on and then when you go home, live your life properly.”