Auckland City v HB Utd
SPORTS CAN quite often teach players life's lessons on what Perry Cotton reckons is a two-way street.
Fundamentally it boils down to what he believes is treating players with respect to ensure they will invest in a team's culture and philosophy.
Conversely, the onus is also on the players to come equipped to the park with the right attitude to offer to the coaching staff and team management in helping whatever the singular or plural goals may be for a season.
Cotton should know because he has played professional soccer for Scunthorpe United in England for three years and also savoured the beautiful game in the giddy heights of the international arena as an All Whites striker-cum-defender.
"I didn't like some of the things I saw and especially the way the younger players were treated," says the 47-year-old who is in his first season with the Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United franchise in the ASB Premiership this summer as assistant coach to Chris Greatholder.
"I'm a great believer in the development of playing football with passes and touches.
"I've seen coaches running the arses off young players who quickly become pretty disillusioned," he says before the 2.30pm kick-off at Kiwitea Street in the match against Auckland City as the undefeated teams, after two wins, play a top-of-the-table clash.
Both are sitting on six points each but the hosts are perched on the top rung because of a better goal average. It is safe to say not too many people will be keen to put their houses on the TAB for a Hawke's Bay United victory.
That is not surprising considering Auckland City boast a rash of quality imports who have previously helped the highflyers to victory in the O-League for a shot at the soccer Club World Championship.
Cotton, who played for New Zealand from 1992-95 before leaving the scene in acrimonious circumstances, is adamant coaches need to tell players why they are in their equation or not.
"It's a communal thing so you have to be open and frank with them. You have to tell them what they are doing or what they aren't doing so that they can go back and work on things to earn their place in the side," says the man who also played for Kettering Town in the United Kingdom before joining the Bluewater Napier City Rovers in 1992 to help secure several League and Chatham Cup winners medals.
Cotton's frustration also boiled over when he toured South America with the All Whites in 1995 when the New Zealanders received a 7-0 flogging at the hands of Uruguay.
"I said a few things to the assistant coaches and the coach after the game that I probably shouldn't have," he says with a laugh.
His venomous outburst eventually scuttled a promising international career for the player who was only in his mid-twenties.
"It cost me in the long run," he says, finding himself inexplicably on the bench after 15 straight wins before the All Whites dropped him.
Cotton believes it is paramount for any coaching stable to sit down and have a conversation to resolve issues.
"If the players don't like then they can simply go away or do something about it by turning things around to show coaches what they are capable of doing to prove them wrong."
Life, he believes, is about attitude and how one applies himself so sport is no different.
With "great bloke" Greatholder's invitation to help coach, Cotton has instilled in the Bay United culture of earning the right to play.
He had impressed on Greatholder the need to secure maximum points from Waikato United and Youngheart Manawatu and the men had delivered.
"We've got the maximum points that have set us up for the game against Auckland City on Sunday.
"Chrissy's set up a good environment and got good players with honest character."
With no pressure on the Bay, he feels the visitors will earn the right to play the hosts.
"We'll probably play ugly in the first 20 minutes and then settle. We'll have no respect for them and get into their faces," Cotton says, ruling out a defensive mind set and "cagey stuff".
The coach in the New Zealand Football Championship era, Cotton stepped down in December 2005 in the hope his departure at the Bay United franchise was going to help usher in a more professional era.
The then assistant coach, former Scottish international and current Wellington Phoenix coach Jonathan Gould, assuming the mantle of coach.
Cotton had bemoaned the win-less start to the season as a factor in his decision but the major reason was simply the burden of having to juggle his soccer commitments with a full-time job.
"The football team really requires a full-time person and with me being a full-time worker first, as we all are, trying to manage the whole thing makes a huge impact on the rest of your life," Cotton had claimed.
"So I made the difficult decision to step down and I've recommended to the board that they need to put in place a full-time football manager in the future, which they've agreed with, to do more of the day-to-day running of the franchise."
However, as assistant coach with Charlie Howe at the helm, Cotton helped the Park Islanders to some memorable moments in the then National League.
The pair steered the troops to a National League in 2000 and the double (National League and Chatham Cup) in 2002.
WHO: Auckland City v Hawke's Bay United.
WHERE: Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Referee: Mark Hester.
Head to head: Played 20, Auckland 15 wins, HB 2 wins, 3 draws.
AUCKLAND form: W, W.
The players: Jacob Spoonley is out of the squad with Tamati Williams elevated to No 1 goalkeeper. Liam Anderson provides cover for Williams on the bench. Angel Berlanga is out with injury so Dan Saric steps up. All White Ivan Vicelich is confirmed in the squad.
The vital statistics: Auckland have won seven and drawn one of their last eight clashes with HB Utd. The
navy blues have also never lost to the visitors at home since the competition was launched for a record of played nine, won eight and drawn one.
Squad list: 12 Tamati Williams (GK), 2 Simon Arms, 3 Takuya Iwata, 6 Jason Hicks, 7 James Pritchett, 8 Chris Bale, 9 Manel Exposito, 10 Luis Alberto Fonseca Corrales, 11 Danijel Koprivcic, 13 Alex Feneridis, 14 Adam Dickinson, 15 Ivan Vicelich (c), 16 Albert Riera Vidal, 17 Pedro Santa Cecilia Garcia, 18 Liam Anderson (GK), 19
Daniel Saric, 20 Emiliano Tade, 22 Andrew Milne.
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx.
HB UNITED form: W, W.
The players: Josh Margetts and Matt Bruin are drafted into a provisionally assembled squad as coach Chris Greatholder monitors injury niggles in his group. Tuhiwai Kennedy drops out as part of a squad rotation policy while Jarrod Smith (hamstring) is again on the injured list.
The vital statistics: History does not favour the Bay whose only wins are 4-2 (2004-05) success and 2-0 (2007/08). Last season, the Bay ran Auckland very close in 3-2 and 3-1 defeats.
Squad list: 1 Richard Gillespie (GK), 2 Aaron Jones, 4 Danny Wilson, 5 Bill Robertson (captain), 6 Stephen Hindmarch, 7 Matt Hastings, 8 Cole Peverley, 10 Stephen Hoyle, 11 Conor Tinnion, 12 Harley Rodeka, 16 Sean
Lovemore, 17 Fergus Neil, 19 Rudi Bauerfiend, 21 Matt Bruin, 26 Danyon Drake (RGK), 22 Angus Kilkolly.
Coach: Chris Greatholder. Assistant coach: Perry Cotton.
Footnote: The line-up will be the same, with Drake, Bauerfeind, Bruin, Hastings and Kilkolly on the bench.
In winter, the veteran midfielder still plays for the Geon Taradale soccer team in the Pacific Premiership where several of his teammates from the Rovers are part of the team.
"They are great bunch of guys and a good football team."