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My managers…Kevin Wilson

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

 

”The best way to attack is defend”

If anybody asks me about my former manager at Northampton Town this is what I remember most. I always have a little chuckle to myself when I think of the time he said it.

It was just before we were to leave the dressing room for the  opener at home to Brentford in the 2000-01 season. The club had just achieved promotion and it was a massive game. We were all focused on the game when sent the whole squad into a fit of the giggles. Obviously he wanted to send out his team with some positive, inspiring words of wisdom but got so wrapped up in it that it came out completely wrong.

It had no bearing on the result but it sure was funny.

There was another instance where he shot himself in the foot. He had a big disagreement with a senior pre after a Saturday match. During this rant he declared that the player would never play for Northampton Town again. He was adamant. Sure enough, a week later with a couple of injuries to the squad he was in the starting line up. Either don’t say it or stick to your guns. That type of action does make players lose a bit of respect I have to say.  

Kevin was a young manager. Ian Atkins had recently left Sixfields. Officially he was player-manager. With the arrival of Marco Gabbiadini and myself in the close season and big Steve Howard meant that he didn’t need to play too much. There was a speight of matches where he brought himself on for 10 minutes or so. I think that had as much to do with the fact that he had scored 199 goals during his career. He tried all sorts to get to 200 but unfortunately he didn’t manage it. What a great scoring achievement nonetheless.

Kevin paid a record transfer fee for me from FC Utrecht. Money was given to him that summer so he broke the transfer record at Sixfields by paying £150,000 for me.

He wasnt a particularly tough disciplinarian. He adopted more of a friendly approach. This was great when we were winning but when we were having a tough time then he didn’t quite have the personality to mix it up and put players out of their comfort zone. He was very lucky to have such a good assistant in Kevan Broadhurst who did most of the important work for him. As soon as Kevan left then things started to go wrong.

There were plenty of days off and the days we were in his training sessions were short and sharp. You will very rarely get players complaining about this because we all like days off when they are on offer.There was very little done in a tactical sense. During our bad run of form towards the end of the 2000-01 season the players did have their say. We felt like we were not working on tactical issues enough and that we were having too many days off. It must have been bad. It didn’t change anything though.

I do feel like he held me back during his reign ay Northampton Town. Millwall offered good money for me, about £325,000 I believe. This would have more than doubled their investment in less than a year. He told the club to ask for £1 million for me. Ridiculous. I was in form at the time but that figure was out of the question.

It would have allowed me to play at a higher level but all Kevin could think about was himself. He told me that if he let me go then he would get stick from the fans which would lead to him getting the sack. Well, as we know he got the sack anyway. There were a couple of other players in that team that could have played at a higher level but he held them back too. James Hunt could have played in The Championship with QPR who offered good money for him but he held him back too.It does leave a bad taste in your mouth.

I enjoyed working under Kevin but when he lost his job we were in a real relegation scrap. Although it is the players who cross the white line it is always the manager who bares the brunt of it all. I think that we lacked direction and results were showing that this was the case.

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My predictions…November 27th

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 

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Not every team playing this weekend but my predictions for my ex-clubs are below.

HEREFORD V LINCOLN CITY

A tough game for 2 sides near the bottom of the League 2 table.  Home advantage to see Hereford through to the next round.

My prediction: 2-1

SHEFF WED V NORTHAMPTON

Northampton to battle but lose by the odd goal.

My prediction: 2-1

NOTTS COUNTY V BOURNEMOUTH

Notts County to build on their midweek victory.

My prediction: 1-0

TORQUAY V WALSALL

Walsall to be in the hat for the draw.

My prediction: 1-1

MIDDLESBORO V HULL

Hull to continue their recent good form.

My prediction: 1-1

READING V LEEDS UTD

A tough game for Leeds Utd. A battling score draw similar to last week at Norwich.

My prediction: 2-2

 

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My weekend predictions for my previous clubs. Do you agree ?

November 19, 2010 1 comment

 

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Fridays will now see my weekend predictions for all of the clubs which I have played for.

Would be great to have your thoughts and suggestions. Here goes……

Derby vs Scunthorpe Utd

A tough one for The Iron. Derby seem to freeze  in front of the expectant home crowd.

My prediction: 1-1

 

Hull City v Ipswich

4 points from the last 2 games will provide the momentum for a narrow home victory against Ipswich

My prediction: 1-0

 

 

Norwich v Leeds United

Norwich is always a tough place to go. Leeds Utd find themselves in a play off spot. A high scoring draw would be a good result for Leeds to maintain a good league position.

My prediction: 2-2

 

 

 

Brighton v Bristol Rovers

Top placed Brighton will be a very difficult match to come through with anything. A comfortable home victory for Brighton

My prediction: 2-0

 

 

 

Notts County v Tranmere

A huge match at the bottom of league 1. A hard fought point each will help neither team.

My prediction: 1-1

 

 

 

Walsall v Carlisle

Walsall will be bouyant following their FA Cup replay victory in midweek but a strong Carlisle side to take all 3 points.

My prediction: 1-2

 

 

 

Barnet v Northampton Town

recent good form to see The Cobblers gain all 3 points at lowly Barnet

My prediction: 0-2

 

 Shrewsbury v Southend United

Shrewsbury to stay in the top 3 with a convincing home victory

My prediction: 3-1

 

 

 

Lincoln City v Hereford

Lincoln to win back to back matches for the first time in a long time and to grind out 3 points in a close match

My prediction: 1-0

 

 

 

Grimsby Town v Barrow

Grimsby Town to secure all 3 points to be hovering on a play off spot

My prediction: 2-1

 

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My time at Northampton Town…Part 3 Dipping form and nearly sold

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

 

 

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As the season progressed it became evident that the club were having some financial problems. They had stretched themselves with the recent signings after winning promotion and the collapse of ITV Digital was hitting all clubs hard.

The form of the team was alarming to say the least. A promising start ended up by us looking over our shoulders at the wrong end of the table. My own goal scoring form deteriorated. The first half of the season saw me scoring freely but after Christmas was a stark contrast. I am not sure if the clubs form was due to my lack of goals or my lack of goals was because of the team’s poor form. Probably a bit of both.

On the whole though my season personally was a success. This brought about interest from a few clubs. I had heard that Hibs were watching me, as well as Wigan Athletic and also Millwall. Millwall were in our division that seaon but were on the verge of promotion.

Deadline week in March saw them try to sign me on a permanent basis. There was a lot going on which I didn’t find out about. It turned out that they offered £325,000. A lot of money considering they paid a club record £150,000 for me less than a year ago. They said that they valued me at £1 million. I had had a good season but that valuation was ridiculous. I thought at one stage that it would be accepted but Kevin Wilson really dug his heels in. He told me that he would have been sacked if he would have allowed me to go. He thought that the fans would have turned on him if I had been allowed to leave.  A very selfish point of view in my opinion.  It would have given me the opportunity to play in a higher league but it didn’t happen. During the same week Steve Howard went to Luton Town. The club didn’t want to lose both of us on the same day and his contract was due to expire that summer so they would maybe have lost him anyway so in the end they received £50,000 for him. It doesn’t seem much now considering the career he has had but they could have lost him for nothing.

As the season finished I had a few issues to contend with off the pitch. My wife was pregnant with our second child and she had to spend the last 12 weeks of her pregnancy in hospital full time. Although most of that time was during the close season we did begin pre-season training for the following season while she was still in hospital. There were quite a few complications so it was a tough time. The pre-season tour was over in Dublin as it was the previous year. I needed to come back a couple of days earlier than the rest of the squad as my second child Frankie was due to be born by caesarean section. He was to be 4 weeks premature which required him to begin life in the special baby unit.

A week before the season was to begin I was told that Wycombe Wanderers had offered £200,000 for me. It would have been their club record transfer so a big move on their part. Only four or five months after the club had turned down £325,000 for me they accepted £200,000 from Wycombe. It was all down to the finances at the club. They couldn’t wait to get me out. It was incredible.

I went for talks with Lawrie Sanchez who was their manager at the time. Most of the meeting was about him and how good he was as a player and about how good a manager he was. He didn’t really convince me that I should sign there to be honest. He also asked me to take a wage cut from my Northampton Town salary. He asked me to make a football decision and he argued that Wycombe were a bigger club than Wycombe.  All in all it wasn’t right so I turned it down.

That season started off poorly and Kevin Wilson left the club. I was pleased when Kevan Broadhurst was brought back in. There were rumours that he came back because he was still on the payroll following his exit as assistant and the club couldn’t afford another wage. We were in a relegation battle at the time and looked like we were destined to drop down to the basement division.

I had been playing poorly up to that point under Kevin Wilson. Broads came in and gave everybody a kick up the backside.  My form returned and we began to string a few positive results together.

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The magic of The FA Cup

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

FA Cup first round day is upon us already. This is always a special day in the calendar for all fans as well as players who are connected to lower league clubs.

If your team is in a positive league position then you really don’t care who you draw out of the hat. If your team is on a run of bad form then you can dread the draw in the expectation of being paired against a non-league team away from home. We see it year in and year out, where a team struggling in the league is drawn away to a non-league team who turn them over.

As a player I endured one such experience as a Northampton Town player. We drew Canvey Island away and had the added pleasure of it shown live on BBC1 on a Sunday afternoon. It was probably the lowest day of my career. At the time I think they were 3 or 4 divisions below us and they turned us over quite easily following a bright start to the match. We didn’t take our early chances and paid the ultimate price.

So why do these FA Cup shocks occur ?

Many reasons I think. The lower ranked team raise their game significantly knowing that there is a bigger audience watching and an opportunity to grab some headlines. The higher placed team have an off day. Lower league players are playing in the lower leagues because they lack the consistency required to play higher. Many lower league players have some of the attributes required to play higher but lack that all important quality of consistency. Non-league pitches are not usually in as good a condition as their league counterparts. This is a huge ‘levelled’ which can stifle the game of a league opponent.

For me though the biggest reason is all in the mind. Although, as a player, you don’t go in to any match consciously complacent, once this attitude sets in there is very little you can do to recover it. The longer the game goes on while the scores are level there is always a chance that you could concede.

Somewhere it will happen. A league team will be beaten by so-called inferior opposition. We can try to give our reasons but maybe we must admit that it is because of the magic of The FA Cup.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

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Lincoln City vs Northampton Town

November 2, 2010 2 comments

As another two of my former clubs go head to head I thought I would preview the match.

Lincoln City look for their first victory under new manager Steve Tilson. An encouraging result away at Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend may provide the momentum for The Imps to begin to climb the table.

Steve has immediately added to the squad by adding Ashley Grimes, Luke Howell, Gavin Hoyte and Josh Gowling. This is a sign that he wants to put his own stamp on the squad as soon as possible. The signing of Hoyte looks a particularly interesting one.

I know Steve and am sure that he will be looking to play an exciting, expansive game. This can be aided by results and I make Lincoln City slight favourites for this clash.

Northampton Town have so far showed their best form in the League Cup. Now that their run in that competition is over it is imperative that they start to produce that form in League 2. They have slipped down close to the bottom of the table somewhat surprisingly and results will need to improve. I know that Ian Sampson has had his budget cut from last season which is always going to make things tougher. I saw the corresponding fixture last term and at that time Northampton were looking to secure a play off spot towards the end of last season.

For now, for both sides, it is all about gathering some points quickly to steer them to safety.

In what is a hugely important match for both teams I think that the impetus that the new signings can bring will see Lincoln City win by the odd goal to take all three points.

My time at…Hull City. Part 1. Dodgy agents and the lure of the KC.

October 12, 2010 1 comment

 

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My contract At Northampton Town was in it’s final year. Terry Fenwick had just taken over and there was a feeling that there was going to be a few big changes at Sixfields.

Immediately Fenwick changed the formation to a 4-3-3 formation. In what proved to be Fenwick’s first, and my last game, I was to play wide left away at Blackpool. I did not get a touch all afternoon. Andy Turner, a massive favourite of Fenwick’s from his days at Portsmouth, signed at around that time too. I was one of the biggest earners at Northampton Town at that time and it was obvious that if I was off the wage bill then he could bring in some other players.

At the turn of the year legally I was free to talk to other clubs so I sent a fax off to all lower league clubs in the hope of some interest. I needed to look at my own interests and if I was going to be out of favour under a new manager then I needed some options.

I received phone calls from a few managers. This was at the time when most clubs were struggling financially as the collapse of ITV Digital was fresh in everybody’s minds. Hull City were viewed as a club going places at that time. With Adam Pearson putting his money where his mouth were and Peter Taylor the manager made their interest very appealing indeed. The KC Stadium had recently been finished so this was something that I was very excited about.

Around this time I received a call from the agent who helped in my move from Scunthorpe United to FC Utrecht. He was now working in the UK. Adam Pearson thought that he was still representing me and contacted him to see how the land lied. Officially I had no agent at that time but thought it would help if he conducted negotiations on my behalf so I gave him the go-ahead to do so. I had trusted this agent from my time in Holland and thought that we were friends.

As negotiations continued I felt that things were stalling slightly. Peter Taylor rung me to see what was happening and I quickly told him what I wanted and that if they could meet it then I would sign straight away. Northampton had officially given me the green light to talk so I was doing nothing wrong. This was agreed pretty much there and then with Peter so I was up to Hull for a medical and to sign on the dotted line.

Before I drove up from Northampton to Hull I was called by the agent. He proceeded to tell me that Hull City and Adam Pearson were not playing ball and had said that they were not going to pay the agent fee and that because of that he wanted me to pay it.  Most agents fees were paid by the club so this was alarming news. Something didn’t add up. Luckily I was experienced enough to call Adam Pearson to seek confirmation of this when he told me that he had just sent a cheque off to the agent for his services. Incredible. He was trying to get a slice from both of us. To top that, I had done the main negotiating. I was stunned.Anyway, I signed the contract and have not spoken to him since.

My home debut was at home to York City……..

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