If you are a foreign player on a losing team right about this time of the year (November/December), then pay close attention. You should be on alert even if you are playing well. I have known players with great stats, who have been released and it was a total surprise for them because they believed their stats were enough. Trust me, it is not always enough.
Especially in lower leagues where you may be one of the few foreign players on the team, the responsibility of wins and losses falls directly on your shoulders. On teams where there are more foreign players, that responsibility is spread out a bit more. In general though, if the team is losing, the winds of change will be directed at the foreign players.
And if you are not playing well (in the eyes of those responsible) then you definitely need to be alert. Hopefully, the team has a good connection with your agent, and the agent might already know. In that case, hopefully, you and your agent have a good enough relationship that you’ve been informed. If there is enough time, maybe there is something you can change before a clear decision is made. Even if you do know beforehand, hopefully, your agent starts the process of looking for a new job for you. In addition, let us hope the agent will negotiate a good resolution to ending your contract if the worst comes to worst and you are let go.
If you are not playing well and do not have an agent, you might be screwed. The team will definitely try to get you out of there with a weak handshake and that’s it. Without having someone to negotiate on your behalf, the team will not just do the right thing and offer you a buyout of your contract. And without knowing how to negotiate or what to ask for, you will not get anything. That’s why I always say that you only know how good your agent is until you either get hurt or fired…but that is another topic.
So what do you do if you think you might be getting fired? Well, if you sense it, do something about it. Try to speak with your coach and ask straight up. This is a business and you have the right to ask questions like this. Whether you get a straight-up answer is another thing. Ask those in charge if there is anything you can do differently or how they see your role on the team. Maybe if you act early enough, you can rectify the situation and possibly save your job.
Whatever you do, what you SHOULD NOT do is pout, stick your tail between your legs and act as if the world is against you. As I said, even if you have great stats, but your team loses, you could get the ax. It may be a feeling that the coach has or the management does not like how you jell with the rest of the players. It could be multiple reasons but once again, this is a business and you may not have it in your control.
Stay professional because anything can happen. I will tell the story of once when I almost lost my job. I was in the second season with my team in Geneva. In the first season, we unexpectedly placed second, losing in a close finals series. For the following season the expectations were high and we as a team did not live up to them halfway through the season.
Although my stats were very similar to the season before, I heard rumblings that the coach wasn’t happy with me. I got wind of that from someone in the office that liked me and was also a credible source. No one had talked to me or my agent (I informed my agent of the suspicion so he could get a jump on looking for another gig) and I just continued to do my job to the best of my ability.
After about two weeks, my agent called me one morning and told me that he had begun negotiations for my release based on the club wanting to release me. He advised me to still go to practice, but if they told me to leave, I would need it in writing, if not, I should sit in the stands and watch practice. That was exactly what happened. They did not expect me to be there and of course, they did not have anything in writing, but I made sure I was near other players when the coach came over to tell me I didn’t need to practice.
I sat in the stands and watched the entire practice. I did not get mad or get loud. I accepted their business decision and remained professional whether I agreed with their decision or not.
To make a long story short, I never got fired. I had a long talk with the coach and the management the next day, and I gave my viewpoint on why I felt the decision was wrong and what I thought was the problem with the team. It was not an emotional meeting at all. I just stated the facts as I saw them. I was told later that night that I would be staying on the team and I finished the season. I would move on afterward, but we ended on good terms.
Had I gone nuts and cursed everyone out because I did not agree with the decision, not only would I have been fired, but my reputation would have been ruined. That is what you have to realize. Your reputation is ultimately at stake if you do not act in a professional matter. Remember that. You could be costing your future self money.