Date: 2nd December 2010 at 4:50pm
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You can learn a lot about a person by how they respond to criticism.

Today Zesh Rehman was stripped of the club captaincy. He was also transfer listed.

Zesh’s crime, according to the BBC, is speaking out about sitting on the bench for the last few weeks.

He is quoted as saying ‘I’m not going to lie, it’s left a bad taste in my mouth having to watch the last few games from the bench. I’ve led the team to good results and performances and then I’ve had four young loan defenders, with 10 league games between them, come in and play ahead of me. Now, no disrespect to them, but at times like this I think you need experience. I’m club captain, have played over 200 games in my career so far and I think my experience could help the team right now. It’s not just me that’s baffled as to why I’m not playing, but my team-mates as well and I’ve been stopped by a number of fans too. But, at the end of the day, the manager has to pick the team that he thinks can win and you have to respect that and get on with it.’

The indications are that these words, recorded on Monday, have prompted this rapid response from Peter Taylor.

There seem to be similarities with Jake Speight, except his comments came after he had joined Port Vale. The response seems no less vindictive with Peter Taylor allegedly denying him an FA Cup appearance because of the potential damage it would do to his value.

All points towards our manager having a pretty short fuse at the moment.

But this behaviour prompts questions about his judgement. He signed Speight for £25,000 in the summer and barely used him. And although he didn’t sign Zesh he kept him as club captain in the summer.

For both of them regular first team football has been far from guaranteed. Speight saw Luke Oliver playing up front unsuccessfully week after week as despite having a number of different strikers Taylor only felt it made sense to play one of them at a time. And then when Jason Price arrived, Jake Speight left.

In defence there’s been an even stranger sequence of events. Lewis Hunt was preferred at right back despite being universally condemned. He gets injured. Two Manchester United loanees come in for a few weeks. They leave. Another two loanees come in. None of those four have masses of experience, they show ability in fits and starts but aren’t part of our team, they’ll never be part of the furniture.

In between those four players arriving Zesh has stepped up. And stepped up admirably. Not only on the pitch but his recent recognition by Number 10 for the work he has done in the community should not be underestimated.

He’s the captain. Perhaps that ought to mean he doesn’t speak out. But actually we want our footballers to be human and we want them to be honest.

Peter Taylor’s thinking on the squad this year has left a lot of us perplexed. We have used a massive amount of players. We have seen little consistency. We are performing very poorly.

If fans are questioning Zesh, he should be able to engage them in conversation. If he is a professional sportsman wanting to play the game, he should be able to say so. His treatment up to Monday had left a bitter taste in his mouth. Today it leaves a bitter taste in mine now.

The club seems to be very easily spooked this year. There has been a lot of furore about the nature of comments made on the OMB or the Telegraph & Argus website. The City Gent was infamously rounded on by the club for suggesting we might not be amongst the pace setters of the league. Recently David Baldwin has defended the tacky season ticket campaign whilst marketing and design professionals say their entreaties to the club have fallen on deaf ears.

We seem to have a club attempting by all means possible to control. Players, it seems, are expected to be automatons. The fans to be seen but not involved. And certainly not to voice their opinions.

The club’s problem is that football is all about opinion. Perhaps people overstep the mark but that’s not always a bad thing. It shows passion, and it shows interest.

The club needs to get on with managing the business of being a football club, and managing the team so that performances on the pitch are transformed. Stop being distracted by wagging tongues, whoever they belong to, and get them talking about performances that impress, players that are ours and a community around our club that is warm and welcoming.

I am deeply unimpressed.