Posts Tagged ‘Premier League’

Redknapp bullies authorities on stance over comments

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Harry Redknapp stood his ground firmly this week amongst fears that he would be punished following his comments after the Manchester United match. I think this not only signifies his status within the game currently but also how The FA have shown a great deal of weakness as well as admitting that he had more than a fair point.

Managers comments have become much scrutinised by the authorities in recent years in order to protect referees but this recent non-action by the FA suggests that Redknapp’s comments were not far off.

The strict rules regarding manager interviews that have been ignored by Sir Alex Ferguson in a different set of circumstances would have looked farcical if another top flight manager had gone against the grain. 

Redknapp put his point across perfectly and I agree with him. Managers are asked to make comment on a whole host of things related or not to their own club so why should they not tell the truth? If they had a script of what they can and cannot comment on then there would be no need to interview them in the first place. Should they be inclined to lie about how they view certain incidents to protect referees or to avoid punishment?

I agree that manager comments should be constructive. In times gone by we have seen certain comments made by referees that have crossed the line. Some managers seemed to have held grudges against certain referees who they feel have continuously ruled against their sides unfairly.

But surely if somebody is asked to comment on a situation then they should be able to speak about it honestly. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear the views of the referee for post match comments. I’m sure that the world of football would like to see some kind of response from match officials instead of hiding behind ex-referees who always back their decisions.

For me the question we must ask is if the  protection of referees is as important as hearing the honest opinions of our managers. I think not.

Why Newcastle United must keep Chris Hughton

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I thought I would write my thoughts about one of my childhood heroes and current manager of Newcastle, Chris Houghton.

As a boyhood Tottenham fan  I saw Chris Houghton play many times. My dad used to take me many times to watch Tottenham play both at White Hart Lane as well as other grounds around the country. We used to arrive in time for the team coach to arrive and I remember him saying hello to me as a 7 or 8-year-old as he got off the bus on one occasion.

It seems to me that he has done a remarkable job at St James’s Park since becoming manager. The number of high-profile names that have taken up the hot seat at Newcastle and not lived up to expectations is a huge signal that it is not all about having a big name to take a club forward.

Chris has the respect of the playing squad at St James’s Park. This, for me, is where a manager earns his corn. To earn your players respect is the hardest thing to do. It is never given on a plate. Some managers have this awful knack of talking to you as a child. If you can be on their level then you are in a great position to achieve.

The club have publicly backed their manager. So why are Newcastle saying that contract negotiations will be underway at the end of the season. You would have thought that there would be some urgency to tie him down to a long-term contract. Hughton has stabilised the club. Many thought that Newcastle could struggle this season after their return to the top flight but he has exceeded many people’s early season expectations. It seems like he has the majority of the Newcastle fans on his side too. This hasn’t been gifted to too many previous managers there.

So is there a hidden agenda behind the scenes at St James’s Park ? Are the Newcastle United decision makers looking to attract another big name on board at the expense of their current popular manager?

I certainly hope not. Newcastle United should have learned valuable lessons from their recent past and continue with Hughton. They should have some much needed continuity and maybe we could see some real success at St James’s Park in the not too distant future. 

There has been speculation that he would soon leave the club. The bookmakers seem to have taken enough bets on this occurance recently to make this a media story. This week has reinforced his credentials as a fantastic manager. If this continues he will be talked about as a potential future England manager.

My time at…Leeds United. Part 4 Egging..and the South Africans arrive.

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Self-confidence had rocketed since my arrival in the First Team squad. They say that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I would say that unfortunately I had found myself on the wrong side of that line at times. Don’t get me wrong, you do need confidence to be a professional footballer. All of the top players have it but they manage to churn out an 8 or 9 out of 10 performance every week. Eventually this affected my performances but in a negative way. The problem was that my niave, 18 year old mind  was saying ‘ all you have to do is turn up and it will happen for you.’

Well, gradually my performances tailed off and I was out of the first team.You could say that I was being rested and I probably said that to myself but my form had dropped away significantly. Anyway it was the end of the season barring The FA Youth Cup Final. It was a two-legged affair against Manchester United. There was a lot of bad blood between the two clubs at that time. Eric Cantona had made the switch from Leeds United over to Manchester earlier in the season and he was ripping the Premier League apart. In that Manchester United youth team were the likes of  David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Keith Gillespie, Robbie Savage and Chris Casper. They were a cracking team and were strong favourites to beat us having won the same trophy the year before. The first leg at old Trafford went to us 2-0. A goal  each from myself and Noel Whelan. There was roughly 30,000 on the night even though Old Trafford was being renovated.

So back to Elland Road for the second leg. It was live on Sky Sports too. Interest was that high that the kick-off was put back about half an hour. I scored one of the best goals of my career that night. An overhead kick from about 12 yards. Even Leeds United fans still ask me about it today. We eventually won the tie 4-1 on aggregate.  By this time Kevin Sharp had made his senior league debut too. Three mates living together in the same digs had played first team football. Maybe we all got a bit above our station.

So the end of the summer brought the Under 18’s European Championships to England. Our squad was made up of the Leeds United youth team ,Manchester United youth team plus the likes of Sol Campbell, Darren Caskey, Julian Joachim, Robbie Fowler, and Kevin Gallon.

I started the first match against France. I was replaced by Robbie Fowler who came on, scored, and kept his place for the rest of the tournament. We won the tournament and I played a bit part really.

It turned out to be my last appearance for England at any level. I did not know it at the time. I just thought that I would make the natural progression to U21 level at least.

So back to pre-season training at Leeds United. Brian Deane had replaced Lee Chapman as the target man. Phil Massinga and Lucas Radebe had come all the way from South Africa. They were a couple of years older than myself, Noel Whelan, Kev Sharp, Mark  Tinkler and Gary Kelly but they did hang around with us. To be fair to them both they came with the very best intentions. They were both great lads but swore blind that they didn’t drink. We invited them out loads of times at the beginning with them turning us down on each occasion. Well, bordem must have been a factor because one night they gave us a ‘yes’. Well, they liked the taste of it that’s for sure and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Bacard & Coke was their favourite tipple. In the end they were out on it more than us!

 All of us young lads loved a night out . In fact ,we loved an ‘all dayer’  even more. There were many weeks if there was no scheduled reserve or first team game that we would find ourselves in a pub by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We would always end up in a club called Mr Craigs. There was free entry if you played for Leeds United and we all felt like celebreties in there. Although I enjoyed a night out with my mates I don’t want to paint a picture of on obsessive drinker. I never went out two days before a game which was the ruling of the club at the time. Boredom then was sometimes difficult to surpress, particularly on a night time.  There were 4 of us in digs so what do you do?  We spent a lot of time in front of the TV and also with the Atari. For those that are too young to know what an Atari is: let’s just say that it was the closest thing to a PlayStation ! At the time this was cutting edge gaming. Sonic the Hedgehog was a big part of my life at that stage. But I had passed my driving test, had a car so what would you do if you were bored??

Egging. Yes, egging. This consisted of driving to a petrol station to buy all of the eggs they had available. We then patrolled the streets of Leeds looking for our victims who we could throw our eggs at from the car window. There was a technique to it. Obviously we didn’t want our victims knowing it was us so we would choose people who were walking in the opposite direction that we were travelling. Initially we didn’t want to be in an area where there were too many traffic lights just in case we were spotted although as we became more experienced this gave us more of a buzz. It might not seem that funny reading this but can you imagine splattering some unsuspecting person with an egg and seeing their facial anger that they didn’t know where it came from? We tended to use the Headingly area of Leeds as our preferred target zone. There was always plenty of people stood outside plenty of pubs so we didn’t have to be that accurate. Just lob one in that  direction as we drove past and see what happened. So if you ever got egged in Headingly between 1993/95 there was a good chance that it was either me, Kevin Sharp, Mark Tinkler or Gary Kelly !!

We even carried it over to Tuesday afternoons on home match days. After lunch the first team squad were assigned to the Hilton Hotel in town to prepare properly for the evenings match. I knew if I was playing or not ,most times not, so I found this time to be particularly boring. We always seemed to be on one of the highest floors with plenty of people walking past minding their own business.

We actually got busted. Somebody must have spotted us and we were dragged into the managers office to explain. We denied the whole thing. Luckily for us Gary Kelly was part of our Tuesday afternoon operations squad. He was a regular in the first team and a real prize asset to the club so they would have had to discipline him if they were to discipline all of us and they didn’t want to upset him too much.

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


My time at…Leeds United. Part 2. Suspended..and 1st team debut.

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment


Paul Hart was my Youth Team coach. What a brilliant coach he was, still is. Apart from my parents I would say that he has been one of the biggest influences on my career. My time in France had made me question if I wanted to be a footballer and he really got a hold of me and sorted me out. For a while anyway. He had previously done a similar job at Notts Forrest with success and it was to my fortune that he was at Leeds Utd. He was not the sort of man who you wanted to get on the wrong side of. That happened to me once though. There was a bit of a contractual wrangle which got a bit out of hand. My contract stated that I was to pay £70 per week landlady. It was after about 6 months that the club discovered that they were paying it for me. I knew it at the time but obviously didn’t tell them. I was called in by Paul Hart. He suggested that the money I owed should be paid back although they would allow me to pay in over the remainder of the contract. It was a good whack as I was not on a large amount as a young pro at Leeds. How times have changed. I really didn’t want to take a hit like that so I said ‘No’. I don’t think Paul Hart expected to hear me disagree with him but I figured that it was their mistake and I wasn’t going to pay it. There was a bit of a stand-off for a few minutes along with some threats and eventually he told me to f*** o** out of his office and that I was suspended. I didn’t bother arguing. When Paul Hart said something he always looked as though he meant it. So as I walked out of his office to my car it felt like an eternity. All I could think about was how I’ve just kissed goodbye to any chance of becoming a footballer. What was I doing?

Anyway, before I reached my car I was recalled into his office and told to ‘sit there’ while he tried to sort it out with the club secretary. He came back, angrier than ever, and told me to f*** o** once again but this time until the following day but from then I had to pay the £70 myself. I couldn’t argue.

I was pretty pleased with myself that I stood up to him that day. Not that I ‘won’ or anything like that. Whether I was in the right or not wasn’t really the point. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and not be bullied, especially when you are a young lad finding your way in the world. I had total respect for Paul Hart all the way through my time at Leeds and didn’t want to fall out with him again

From when I signed the goals were flowing very regularly. We played in the Intermediate u19’s league against other youth teams from the region. Confidence was high and we managed to begin a bit of a cup run in The FA Youth Cup. At the same time the first team were having a shocking season. It got to March or April  time and they hadn’t managed to win away from home. The reigning league champions. Relegation was being spoken about and things were not how they were supposed to. Some big names had come in with big transfer fees on big money. Steve Hodge, David Rocastle, Scott Sellers. And they didn’t manage to hold down a place in the team. I had played a few reserve team matches. I was scoring most weeks for the u19’s that they wanted to have a look at me. My first reserve game was away at Barnsley where they stuck me left-midfield. I was disgusting. Didn’t have a clue how to play left midfield. There were that many players it was the only way I could get a game. Mick Hennigan, Reserve Manager and First Team coach commented on how I wasn’t ready to play ‘messters’ football. He was an ‘old school’ South Yorkshireman. Not the greatest coach in the world but loved football to it’s core. Anyway, the goals didn’t dry up and the First Team kept on losing so I eventually found myself making my debut. I was on the bench in the days when only 2 subs were selected. It was at Notts Forrest and was live on Sky Sports. Myself and Mark Tinkler were the 2 selected subs. I ended up getting about 6 minutes. Jelly legs or what. While I was on the pitch I could see Brian Clough wearing his famous green jumper. So surreal. I only touched the ball a couple of times and gave it away every time because I was so nervous. So there it was. I was now a Premier League player. Unfortunately, for me this was the start of what I now look back on as me turning into bit of a Big Time Charlie for a little while and must confess to being a little too big for my boots. Just imagine it. I had just fulfilled a childhood dream. Stupidly, niavly, though my young 18 year old mind took this as having ‘made it’. To this day I look back and hate myself for the attitude that developed.

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



My time at Leeds United…Part 1. Back home at last

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment


I signed for Leeds United in the September 1992 .It was the season which followed Leeds United’s First Division championship success. It was the first season of the newly formed Premier League. Sky Sports had just paid massive money for the TV rights and it seemed like the game was due to be taken to the next level. Leeds at that time were a club who were spending a lot of money and were assembling a squad full of big names with big reputations. Not that the fee paid for myself and Kevin Sharp from AJ Auxerre was going to break the bank.£120 k was the amount. I remember feeling more relieved than anything that my French nightmare had ended. When signing I thought that it was highly unlikely that I will get a chance in the first team but it was just great to be back in England again, back to normality. Another plus for me was the fact that a couple of old team-mates were already there. Mark Tinkler who I played with for England schoolboy’s U 15’s and Scott Cousins, who I was with at the National School at Lilleshall helped me settle in. Luckily we all ended up in the same digs together. Our digs were in Beeston, just at the top of the hill from Elland Road. The four of us stayed in the house of a family. They cooked,washed and cleaned up after us.Well I was nearly 18 years old!! To be fair to our landlady it wasn’t her responsibility to tell us when we had to be in and the places we should and shouldn’t go. The first weekend there all I could think about was getting a night out. There was a lot of lads there around my age so that weekend there was a good turn out, probably 8 or 9 of us. Early on in the evening I remember walking from one bar to another. We must have had a few, well on our way! I was a new boy so I kept myself to myself. The next thing I knew someone suggested that we turn a parked car over. S**t ! I mean I wanted a good night out and all that but I’d never done anything like that before. So within seconds there is a mob of lads rocking a random car from all angles trying to turn it upside down. So what should I do, I thought? Well I’ve just signed for one of the biggest clubs in the country about 4 days ago but I really did want to be accepted by my peers and as they say ‘many hands makes light work’ so all hands to the pump. So within a minute or two the car was on it’s roof greeted with a loud cheer from everybody involved and already I was one of the boys. At the time it seemed a bit of a laugh but what was I thinking?

Although I was 17 when I signed I immediately signed as a professional. This was a little unorthodox because I was training and playing in the youth team which was full of apprentices. As a result I didn’t have to clean boots or do all of the regular ‘jobs’ which was expected. What a result! When training had finished I was straight off to the bookies or the snooker hall while the other lads got on with sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. Looking back it wouldn’t have been a bad idea for me to have done those jobs. It was possibly the first signs of me thinking more of myself than I should have. That is one thing that has been eradicated from the game today. These days the scholars, as they are now called, are given less to do. I’m still not sure what is right or wrong. I do think they should be given some responsibilities though.

One player who had signed at a similar time to myself was a goalkeeper called Paul Pettinger. He was a nice enough lad to be fair to him. He hadn’t quite managed to settle in as well as Kev and I and had got some of the young lads backs up somehow so one day they decided to put him in his place. Off went his clothes, well most of them, . He was then tied up outside against the changing rooms and on went boot polish all over his face. The lads took it upon themselves to grab a load of balls and pelt him at point-blank range. Wow.  Well this must have gone on for a good couple of minutes and I felt for him.I can honestly say that I wasn’t one of the ones who fired a ball at him. That was a step too far for me. And a step too far for his mum who caused all sorts of havoc for Paul Hart and his staff.I think he was off for about a week after that incident. Poor lad. If that had happened in more recent times I am pretty sure that somebody would have lost their job but it seemed to be quickly forgotten at the time.

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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