Aren't coaches supposed to stick up for their players?
When a player is the victim of a harsh or questionable decision, isn't the coach supposed to stand up for the aggrieved and try to right the wrong?
After Saturday's loss to the Seattle Sounders, Bruce Arena had the chance, no, had the obligation to stand up for one of his boys and instead decided to take the opposite route, sticking up for referee Ricardo Salazar.
"The initial one on David Beckham, I can't complain with that. He came in pretty hard and I'd have to look at it on a replay and all...I'm sure if it wasn't exposing his cleat I can see how the referee would determine if that was likely a dangerous tackle," Arena said during the post-match press conference.
I bet Beckham was thrilled to hear that.
Beckham's own post-match comments reflected a great deal of disappointment in Salazar's decision.
"The referee saw it differently and maybe he'll decide against it when he sees the replay." Beckham said. "But no, hard tackle but not malicious. In my eyes, definitely not a red card,"
Here's the tackle, you can judge for yourself.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with Salazar's call, Arena needs to show some more support for his players.
Landon Donovan—LA's best player—was hobbled by swine flu and couldn't go the full 90 minutes. Beckham was sent off in the 17th minute, essentially ensuring that LA's hot streak would be coming to an end against an immediate rival for a playoff position.
With all that was riding on this match and the next, which Beckham will now also miss, Arena couldn't muster up a little more passion?
Even some neutrality would have been a step in the right direction.
How tough would it be to say, "We were disappointed to lose David so early?"
It's a statement that doesn't attack the referee—thus avoiding a fine for Arena—and still shows some support for Beckham.
In the end, that's what this is all about—support for a Galaxy player and team unity. If Becks felt hard done by the call, then publicly agree with him. It won't cost anything and it doesn't compromise your integrity as a coach or a footballer.
Team unity is the big issue here, though. When player and coach start having disagreements, you risk upsetting the balance in the dressing room. When the player has the star power of David Beckham and the coach is as notoriously stubborn as Bruce Arena...
Well, you can do the math. This hypothetical situation would not end well for the Galaxy.
Egos would clash, performances on the pitch would suffer, and in the long run, Los Angeles would miss the playoffs for the third year on the trot.
That's the definite worst-case scenario and for now it doesn't look like Los Angeles is headed down that road.
But, Arena should be a bit more careful with his choice of words when speaking to the media, especially if confronted with a situation that has so obviously upset a Galaxy star.