Wellington Phoenix coach Des Buckingham is a very calm man. Nothing appears to rile him during football matches, even when - as has been the case recently - things haven't gone his way.
But simmering below the surface of his calm exterior today was a barely-contained fury at having to drop three of his first-team players for what's been termed "a lack of professionalism" as the club fights to keep their slim A-League playoff hopes alive.
Dutch midfielder Roly Bonevacia and defenders Ryan Lowry and Tom Doyle have been omitted from the squad to face the Roar in Brisbane tomorrow night after their behaviour following the side's 5-1 hammering at the hands of Melbourne City on Saturday night.
"The lack of professionalism from the three of them after what was a very disappointing result is the reason (they) will miss out this weekend," said Buckingham.
"We spoke after the game about needing players who were going to dig in and help us (in) seven important games."
"Every single player over the next seven weeks needs to recognise their own responsibilities to do their job. Those three will still be part of that for the rest of the season. Whether or not they come back into team selection is a discussion to be had at a later date, but they won't feature this weekend," he said.
Buckingham wouldn't elaborate on the exact nature of the indiscretion, preferring to keep it an internal matter. He confirmed though that no illegal activity had taken place and that there is no team curfew in force after home matches. However, these three players' reaction to one of the worst home defeats in the history of the club appears to be at the heart of the matter.
Furthermore, Doyle was installed as part of the Phoenix's leadership group this season. His ongoing inclusion in the side's inner sanctum is now under review.
"It's the standards we've set as staff that we expect the players to follow. Those three haven't met those standards, which is disappointing and more disappointing because we'd come off what was a very poor scoreline for us. Everyone left that stadium in a very bad way," said Buckingham.
Losing three players, including two regular starters in Bonevacia and Doyle, is hardly ideal preparation as the Phoenix attempt to bridge a five-point gap between them and the top six with just seven regular season games to go. Under those circumstances, Buckingham's disappointment is completely understandable. In short, his players have let him and the rest of the side down badly.
"I'm very disappointed. I'm disappointed in having to leave out three players who started the last two or three games. I'm very disappointed for the playing group who have been let down. I'm very disappointed for the football club and the fans who are paying money to come and support this team."
"We've got our standards as coaches and we expect the players to hold certain standards. It comes back to representing this football club. They need to be professional at all levels, inside and outside this football club. We want everything around this club to be positive and we need everyone to be on that same page."