MARTIN ALLEN: I can't believe people pay 70 for Premier League football, it's like watching chess… Balotelli is detrimental, disrespectful and unsettling, Fergie wouldn't tolerate him… Diving I did it all the time, 'course I did
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Martin Allen is the second in a series of new columns for Sportsmail titled The Footballers' Football Column. They're columns
about the game by people involved in the game. A manager of eight professional clubs, Allen, who follows Edgar Davids' column yesterday, made almost 200 appearances for West Ham and well over 100 for QPR in a marauding career which saw him earn the nickname 'Mad Dog'. He never once shied away from a tackle and here, in his first column, he doesn't shirk an issue…
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MEET THE MAN…
Name: Martin 'Mad Dog' Allen
Current job: Gillingham manager
Player – QPR, West Ham, Portsmouth, Southend
Manager – Barnet, Brentford, MK Dons, Leicester, Cheltenham, Notts County.
International honours: England Under 19, 20, 21
You're probably wondering why I'm called Mad Dog. It goes back to when I was at West Ham. My central midfield partner was a guy called Ian Bishop. He was very calm, relaxed and enjoyed playing nice football. I was uptight, intimidating, I had a skinhead haircut. When I played next to him it was my job to get the ball back.
We were playing at Upton Park in front of the Chicken Run and he once looked at me and said 'you've got all froth round your mouth', this is while the game was going on. He laughed. I just looked at him with those horrible eyes I've got. It was around the time when it was all over the news that these dogs bred in America to fight were being imported over here. He laughed and said: 'you look like a mad dog'.
And that's how it happened. Instead of wiping the froth from mouth I just left it on.
Since I became a manager I'm usually brought in as a firefighter to save clubs from relegation. But at Gillingham it's the first time I've taken over a club in the right position.
I've been employed at most clubs when they've been near the bottom in trouble. They've got me in to turn things around. It's always been having to fight to stave off relegation.
I've had one play-off final at Cardiff, play-off semi-finals with Reading, a play-off semi-final with MK Dons, play-off semi-finals twice with Brentford. So we've always been there or there abouts, but haven't managed to quite get up. That's through having clubs that in the previous season had been in the relegation zone.
People would say 'why haven't you managed to do it' You could turn around and say a year ago you were fighting relegation and now you're fighting for promotion. Well since I took over Gillingham in the summer we're top by five points, been there for five months.
I've never been top of the league and the only thing I want is one promotion. I can't even imagine what it'll be like if we do it. Then from that the dream is to take a team from the Championship to the Premier League. I know I can do it, I know I can.
Still growling: Allen has lost none of his trademark bite
Premier class Watching top-flight football is like watching chess!
But you know what The Premier League ain't all it's cracked up to be. I've been to some Premier League games and sat there bored. No shots or crosses. Everyone backs off to play the counter attack.
I know friends with season tickets for Premier League clubs and they find it boring. Bloody well right they do.
They come and watch Gillingham and say what a good football match that was. They love coming here. We don't make 20 passes on the half-way line. They see our football a bit more how it used to be.
The game's changed. In the old days we lined up 4-4-2 and smashed each other to bits, go hell for leather. It ain't like that now. Now everyone drops off and it's chess football. You pay 70 quid for a ticket for that – and I ain't doing it.
The game has changed in other ways, too, players are on massive wages now. Some people moan but I think they deserve it.
I don't think players are on insane wages. I've just been to a hospital in Gillingham to see a lot of sick children who have nurses to look after them.
There was one called Anna, from Liverpool, she spoke with such enthusiasm and love for the children. The remarkable job that lady does she would probably not be earning too much money.
But footballers are entertainers. The ones at the top of the game it's not just in England they're watched, like it used to be in the old days. Everyone in Asia wants to watch the Premier League. It is growing in India and Africa.
When I was a boy my dad used to take summer schools in America and I'd go along with him. You wouldn't see a football goal anywhere, now you go there and they're everywhere.
Oh my god can you imagine what it's going to be like in another 20 years It's just going to get bigger. Do footballers earn too much money Compared to that nurse Anna in Gillingham – yes they do. But people want to watch it and pay for it and I think they should get their fair share.
He's not for me: Allen wouldn't toerate Mario Balotelli's antics – and neither would Sir Alex Ferguson, he reckons
I say footballers are entertainers but one of them who's taken it too far is Mario Balotelli – he's not for me. He's got amazing talent, but I'm with the Jose Mourninho school of thought who had him but washed his hands with him pretty quick. You wouldn't see him playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.
I think he'd be detrimental, disrespectful, unsettling. I saw him play at West Ham 18 months ago, he got subbed in 55th minute, hardly broke a sweat the whole game.
When he came off he walked from the centre circle down the tunnel. Never acknowledged the Man City supporters, and that's disrespectful, I don't like that.
The way he walked off the pitch was disrespectful to his team-mates, the sub coming on, the manager. I wouldn't tolerate it.
He needs to come and watch my development squad train and play. Sundays and Mondays they do team work, pattern of play, technical work.
Then Thursdays and Fridays they do three sessions a day, first session 9.30am in the gym with their core work, stability and weights. Second session 10.30am a working football session.
Then after lunch they go back to the training ground to do fitness work without footballs. Same again on Fridays but they go to the local parks where there are lots of hills. It's hard work.
Away win: Allen's Gillingham continue to set the pace at the top of League Two thanks to Chris Whelpdale's winning goal at Southend on New Year's Day
We had a reserve match against Millwall recently and one of my players ended up with seven stitches and a fractured cheekbone. That was not nice. The lad's only 19. Pure accident the Millwall player headed his face instead of the ball.
It brought back horrible memories for me when I was 19 playing for QPR and had exactly the same thing, spookily the same.
I glanced a header and the Millwall centre-back headed my cheekbone and I had a depressed fracture. George Graham was my youth-team manager.
When I saw it I half-knew what to expect. The blood was just gushing from his head – that's fine but I could see the cheekbone depressed.
I rang his dad to let him know he was going to hospital but was OK.
Hammer time: Allen is a West Ham legend
That's all part of the game – but I'll tell you what's never going to be part of the game with my teams.
I watched Spurs play Swansea last weekend and Chico Flores went down like he'd broken his ankle or ruptured a ligament. He squealed like a pig, I could hear him from where I was.
Then he gets up two minutes later. I thought that was diabolical. I wouldn't at all be happy if one of my players had done that. I would definitely not be happy with that.
I don't like any players to feign injury. If they get tackled take it like a man and get on with it. Give it and take it the same.
I hate blatant cheating but I think that's different to diving. People complain about it but it's a skill – and I did it all the time.
From my experience of the last few years there's no diving in the lower levels.
That cements my view that the introduction of continental and South American players has changed it. It's just normal there.
Jose Mourinho's Porto played at Celtic a few years ago and Martin O'Neill refused to shake his hand.
he would never want a team to play that way. It was like Swan Lake they
were diving everywhere. But it's part of the game. You play for fouls
and penalties. It's in their culture and it's now come to our country.
and youth players on the continent get taught how to win fouls. It's
part of training. They teach them how to win fouls at Barcelona's
good technically, players want to tackle you, to destroy you and destroy
your skill. You run into a player's pathway so they foul you. That's
is being accused a lot – the one against Fulham was
theatrical. Then again I wouldn't know what it's like to be that fast
and to be tackled at that speed,
was certainly not like that. It's part of the change. You bring in
talented players like Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Juan
In the red: Gillingham manager Martin Allen is a new hard-hitting columnist for Sportsmail
More from The Footballers Column…
The Footballers Football Column – Edgar Davids: Players are predators that's why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea… And sometimes the best players are not the most talented – just look at Roy Keane
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
You bring them in, technically top drawer, they play for fouls. Get used to it 'cos it ain't going away.
I dived all
the time anyway. 'Course I did. Any opportunity to win a foul I made
sure I put my body between the ball and the player. To give us
If I could
give us a foul for a penalty I would do, definitely. I was more unique
back then, I was a bit different to everyone else. I'd do anything I
could to win.
What do I tell my players at Gillingham I don't encourage it. I don't say to them 'go into the penalty area and dive to win us a penalty'.
what happens if see player running really fast into box and if you run
in their path they're going to push you over and you'll win a penalty
don't encourage my players to dive but drawing fouls and penalties is a
skill and I don't think there's a manager in the country wouldn't want
them to do it.