It may well be that Mark Hughes is about to face the first test of his man-management skills at a time when the club are looking to turn a trio of draws into their first league win of the season.
The delight among fans and players with keeping Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer at the club might soon turn to concern if his recent comments while on international duty are anything to go by.
Schwarzer isn’t the type to go running to the media or refuse to play but it is also just as clear that all is not hunky-dory.
“I would really rather not say anything because otherwise I might say the wrong thing,” Schwarzer said at the post match press conference after Australia’s draw in Switzerland.
Now although that shows experience and professionalism and respect for his current employers, it also hints that Hughes will have to prove his managerial skills.
"At the end of the day you have to get on with your work and coming away with the national team was a great relief for me really," said Schwarzer.
Understandably, as Arsenal’s desire to sign him had been public knowledge since the end of May – in some ways echoing the Emirates own transfer saga with their club captain.
For a 37-year-old to get the chance to play Champions League football, the temptation must have been great.
I think he has handled the situation extremely well and is obviously keen to continue being a true professional and how his manager handles it from here on in will tell us much about him too.
It is easier to deny someone a move or take a tough stance but the real skills often come after that moment and being able to then still get the best out of a player. And with David Stockdale currently showing good form, the first decision is when to put Schwarzer back between the sticks.
Hopefully, the international break may have come at the right time for the keeper and Fulham, giving both a break from each other, time to adjust the mind and come to terms with what didn’t happen and refocus on the rest of the season – well at least, perhaps, the next half of it.
The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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