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The Footballers" Football Column – Alan Curbishley:

ALAN CURBISHLEY: The pressure of a relegation battle is huge… you're playing to keep the dinner lady and groundsman in jobs – as well as themselves

PUBLISHED:

07:19 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League – yet he has been out of work for more than four years. After 15 years and 729 games managing Charlton he decided to leave for a new challenge. That came in 2006 when he took over at a struggling West Ham. He kept the Hammers in the Premier League on the final day of the season against Manchester United at OId Trafford. In his debut Footballers' Football Column Curbishley writes about the pressures of a relegation battle and who he believes will go down this season. He also discusses his desire to return to the dug-out after his long absence. Before you read his column, make sure you watch his video.

Alan Curbishley: Footballers' Football column

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I feel for all the managers who are fighting relegation this season because I know how tough it is. There are so many different pressures being a Premier League manager and even more so when you are in a relegation battle.

The main pressure is the finances. You’re aware that if you get relegated you can lose up to 70 per cent of your income.

And if that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking about not just the players and the staff, but the ordinary people at the football club, the people who work in the restaurants and at the training ground. People whose livelihoods depend of the job and when there are cutbacks after relegation, they’re often the first people that take the hit.

Nigel Adkins

Harry Redknapp

Paul Lambert

Roberto Martinez

Tough times: Nigel Adkins, Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez are all feeling the pressure

So you’ve got the financial pressure, the pressure on yourself, because obviously you don’t want to be associated with relegation, and you know that it could be a long way back for the football club if that happens.

And then it’s the fans and the press and the media that seem to thrive on every bad moment. So there’s loads of different pressures going on, and I’ve not even mentioned the football, but you’ve got to be aware of all that and it takes its toll.

Every situation is different and it all depends how long you’ve been in that struggle for, if you’ve been in that all season it does take its toll and you do have to go game by game. You’re just hoping for that one match, that one thing that turns it around and starts giving people confidence.

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But then there are the other clubs who feel safe and suddenly drop into it the last few games and they’re not used to that pressure, they’re not used to playing under than intense scrutiny and you can’t cope with it.

Sometimes the club that stays up is the battle-hardened one, who has been in it most of the season and just manages to get out of it near the end before the trap-door closes and that’s it.

When you are down there you look for positives but in reality there’s nothing better than winning a game. I’ve often thought, ‘What comes first – confidence winning you matches, or winning matches giving you confidence’

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get a win, as long as you’ve gone and got the three points on the Saturday, you know it can change the whole atmosphere around the club.

If you are down there then you have got to try different things to turn your fortunes around. Look back to last season, Wigan looked doomed.

But then Roberto Martinez switched his defence to three at the back and gave them a bit more stability, they won a couple of games 1-0 and suddenly the confidence was there, they went on a terrific run until the end of the season and stayed up.

Players react differently when they are in a relegation battle. Some players are affected by it, you know they are good players but they are struggle being in that position.

But then other players thrive on it and can handle it. When you’re in that battle you like to look around the dressing room and perhaps look at six or seven players, or even eight, and know what you’re going to get. Because unless that amount of players are performing you’re not going to win anything.

A relegation battle is tough for everyone and I certainly did not enjoy it. When I went into West Ham they were third from bottom, 14 points from 17 games, and so you know, even if you start taking a point a game, you’re going to be involved in it for the rest of the season. Anything better than that is European form.

I knew when I went into West Ham we had to get out of it quickly and we didn’t. Obviously we stayed in it and with 10 games to go we were doomed, but we got a bit of luck. We won a game at Blackburn where we scored a goal that never went over the line, and suddenly it changed.

We picked up the next result, the team selection was consistent, which it hadn’t been before I was at the club, and along with that came a bit of belief.

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

We won seven of our last nine games. Look at who we played – Arsenal, Everton, Bolton who were in a European position, Middlesbrough, who were just outside of European spots, and then the last game of the season at Manchester United.

What I remember about that game at Old Trafford is that nine of the players who played in that game were at the club before I arrived, so it got me thinking, and it’s what I thought all along, the players had the ability, so why were they in the position they were in

I had players in that run-in playing with so much confidence and doing things I couldn’t imagine they could’ve done weeks before. Consistent team selection helped, and results, and obviously the fans.

Often people talk about Tevez, but he hadn’t scored for 20 games before that. We kept five clean sheets, Robert Green was fantastic, Bobby Zamora scored two fantastic winning goals when we won 1-0 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Everton, but the fans played a massive part.

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley

Contrasting emotions: Alan Curbishley shows the strains of West Ham's relegation battle and celebrates staying up on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

One of the games was Wigan away where I
think we took more fans than Wigan had there, it was just incredible, we
just responded and won 3-0 there and that was the first time, after
that game that I felt, ‘We’re going to do this’.

I look at the teams down there at the moment, and Wigan especially, is it finally their year They’ve survived so many times in the last games of the season. And I’ve just got a feeling this FA Cup run is going to cause them a problem; they’re a game behind the rest of the league at the moment, when they play their semi-final they’re possibly going to be two games behind.

If they get to the final they’re going to have to make up at least two or three games when there are only eight games left.

It’s going to take an emotional toll, we’ve seen it before with teams getting to a cup final and going down, I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too much for them. They’ve still got to win games. Having games in hand is nice, but you’ve got to win them.

When I look at the table I think Reading, QPR and Wigan are the three who are going to go down.

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

I think the timing for Reading to sack Brian McDermott was poor. December is traditionally the vulnerable time for managers as the chairman will think, ‘If I bring a new man in, he’s got to have a chance to bring some new faces in and change it around a little bit.’

But history has shown that no club in the bottom three who have changed their manager in March have managed to survive.

But when you consider whatever the compensation involved in letting McDermott go, the prize, if
they do manage to turn it around, is massive. You’re talking 60-70million, so I can see why they’ve done it.

But I think most people in football would look at it and think, ‘Perhaps if you’d have done it earlier then you might have had a better chance’.

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Poor timing: Curbishley says it was the wrong time for Reading to sack McDermott (left) and get Adkins

All managers in football, especially in the Premier League, who find themselves down the bottom, know that if they don’t pick up results soon they’re in trouble. I just think that this was so late in the day.

I have not worked in management since I left West Ham in 2008, but my exile has been self-inflicted. When I left West Ham I felt they were in the wrong and I was in the right, and it took its time to be sorted out and that was detrimental to me.

But I’ve had opportunities to come back in and maybe I’ve been a bit too picky. Perhaps the advice to managers that have been out of the game would be to get back in as quickly as possible, because you are easily forgotten.

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

I’m still the sixth most experienced Premier League manager and I haven’t worked for some time now. It goes Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce then myself, so I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.

But someone’s got to be attracted by my record, and, not take a gamble, but I only really want to come back in the Premier League and that is difficult. I’d like a Premier League job. Certainly if it was a Championship club it’s got to be one I think is going to go somewhere.

I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment, and there’s a lot less pressure. But if anyone wants to look at my record it stands up with the best of them, so we’ll have to see.

JT McNamara in "very positive frame of mind" after being paralysed by horror fall

McNamara in 'very positive frame of mind' despite being paralysed by horror fall

By
Marcus Townend

PUBLISHED:

19:16 GMT, 29 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 29 March 2013

Jockey JT McNamara, seriously injured in
a fall at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month, has expressed his
gratitude for the support he has received as it was publicly confirmed
he has been left paralysed.

A statement issued by Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club Senior
Medical Officer and Lisa Hancock, CEO, Injured Jockeys Fund on behalf of
the McNamara Family, said: ‘JT McNamara remains in the Frenchay
Hospital, Bristol.

Moving: JT McNamara is improving and will be moved to a hospital in Ireland

Moving: JT McNamara is improving and will be moved to a hospital in Ireland

‘Whilst he suffered a serious neck injury resulting in paralysis, he has made progress in the last week and is in a very positive frame of mind.

‘He is greatly appreciative of the many messages, cards and letters received and also wishes to thank the Frenchay Hospital who are looking after him so well.’

McNamara was injured in a first fence fall from Galaxy Rock in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Hancock said: 'It's a risky sport. Safety is important and it continues to be, but it is a risky sport and every jockey knows that. We are looking at safety measures and continue to do so.]

'But at the end of the day you're riding a horse at speed and jumping fences at speed so the risk is always there.'

JT McNamara

Paul Struthers, chief excutive of the Professional Jockeys Association, tweeted: 'Awful news with confirmation of the extent of JT's injuries. The risks faced/sacrifices made by our brave boys & girls face to entertain us.'

The Jockey Club tweeted: 'We echo the sentiments expressed across our sport & beyond, and send our very best wishes to JT McNamara & those dear to him.'

Grand National-winning rider Mick Fitzgerald has also spoken of his sadness and of the risks involved in racing.

Now a successful pundit on television and radio, Fitzgerald told Sky Sports News: 'It's a mixture of sadness, it's the end of a great career for a jockey who was an amateur and did it because he loved the game.

'When it happened at the time a sombre (mood) descended on Cheltenham, everyone had everything crossed and plenty of people were praying their worse fears wouldn't be realised. This is the end of a glittering career.

'The great thing I can say is that he's in a positive frame of mind and that is number one. He's surrounded by people who love him and I can only extend my best wishes to him and his family.

'It's a high-risk sport and this is one of the things that can happen. As a jump jockey you go out to ride every day knowing it could be your last. You never think it could be you, it always happens to someone else.

'We devote our lives to the sport we love. None of us want to see a jockey injured, the same goes for the horse.

Sombre: Former Grand National winner and racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald spoke out about his sadness

Sombre: Former Grand National winner and racing pundit Mick Fitzgerald spoke out about his sadness

'Getting injured is always in the back of your mind but if you were thinking about it, you wouldn't be able to do your job.

'He's alive and well and in a positive frame of mind. It's important that racing does what it can to help him enjoy the rest of life. I cannot tell you how nice a guy he is.'

The latest statement on McNamara's condition was issued jointly by Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club Senior Medical Officer and Lisa Hancock, CEO, Injured Jockeys Fund, on behalf of the rider's family and read: 'JT McNamara remains in the Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. Whilst he suffered a serious neck injury resulting in paralysis, he has made progress in the last week and is in a very positive frame of mind.

'He is greatly appreciative of the many messages, cards and letters received and also wishes to thank the Frenchay Hospital who are looking after him so well.'

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

As the BBC and now BT Sport seem to have noted, you get a lot more action and access for your money when it comes to buying the television, sponsorship and commercial rights for women’s disciplines.

The Boat Race, an event that exudes privilege, pomp and circumstance like no other, might seem an unlikely cause to champion a step forward for sportswomen, but it is the tradition and rigmarole that makes this a particularly important development.

When Katherine Grainger returned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after winning Great Britain’s first medal in women’s rowing, a silver in the quad, she said someone came up to her and said: ‘We didn’t even know women rowed.’

You can understand why few — men or women — would want to, given the demands of a sport that has little time for finesse or creativity and commands absolute teamwork to succeed at the highest level.

Anna Watkins (left), with whom Grainger won gold so memorably in London in the double sculls, has said a family member tried to put her off rowing in case ‘she got big arms’. It’s all in the legs, of course, but sweeping generalisations have no time for small technicalities like that.

Watkins ploughed on regardless and, 12 years after Grainger came back from Australia with that silver medal, Britain’s women won their first Olympic gold medals since the sport was added to the programme in 1976 — three of them, in fact.

If the wheels of Oxford and Cambridge can creak slowly into action with regard to a sport as brutal and punishing as rowing, it feels like anything could happen.

WHAT THEY SAID

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey said she did not believe she was ‘competing on a level playing field’ in the Olympic 1500metres final in London and was roundly accused of sour grapes.

The gold medal-winner, Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin, is now facing a lifetime ban after ‘big abnormalities’ were found in her biological passport. Some might just owe Dobriskey an apology.

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watched Wrexham win the FA Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over Grimsby.

On Saturday, Grimsby fans congregated in Trafalgar Square for a photo. ‘Which team is this’ said a steward. ‘So are they in the Champions League, then’ I wish.

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Got exasperated at the persistent use of the phrase ‘pre-planned’ to describe Rio Ferdinand’s fitness programme. It is either planned or it is not, just like the defender’s ill-advised little jaunt to Doha.

Attended my first Women in Football meeting at Stamford Bridge on Friday after being, I admit, very dubious about the whole idea. I just want to be ‘in football’ rather than a ‘WiF’. I can’t tell you anything else owing to Chatham House rules, but it was certainly very, very interesting.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Arsenal Ladies beat ASD Torres 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Boreham Wood.

Glad to see there’s still one English team fighting for the cause in Europe — and the women’s final is at Stamford Bridge this year, too. The second leg takes place in Sardinia on Wednesday.

Ladies Day at Cheltenham – watch Andy Hooper"s video

Ladies Day at Cheltenham! Watch Andy Hooper's video of the Festival fillies

By
Andy Hooper

PUBLISHED:

16:43 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:43 GMT, 13 March 2013

The second day of Cheltenham welcomed the ladies – and Sportsmail was there to capture the visitors to the Festival.

Before the action on the track unfolded, Andy Hooper filmed footage of the ladies dressed in their colourful outfits. Click on the video player before to watch his clip…

Hats off to them! Fine fillies descend on Cheltenham for Ladies…

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Mor Diouf scores 70-yard winner two minutes from time for Supersport United against Mamelodi Sundowns

Bury it like Beckham! Senegalese defender scores 70-yard winner two minutes from time

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

17:41 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 13 March 2013

Only the greats of the game including David Beckham, Xabi Alonso and…well, Maynor Figueroa score from their own half, but it looks like the trio have been trumped by a Senegalese defender.

While the above were all just inside their own half when they famously scored from distance, Mor Diouf ended up beating the opposition goalkeeper in a South African Premier League match from an incredible 70 yards!

Mor Diouf's 70-yard wonder goal

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Even more impressive was the fact the goal came two minutes from time, with the defender helping his Supersport United side defeat Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in a home clash last weekend.

Judging by the celebrations after, it was Supersport boss Gavin Hunt that was more impressed with the goal following his excited run down the touchline like Jose Mourinho, while Diouf just stood there and folded his arms like it was something he did every week.

Hunt said of the strike: ‘It's something that wins games as tight as this. Once he hit it, I knew it was a goal because I saw where the goalkeeper was and he hit it sweetly.’

The result moved Supersport up into a mid-table seventh spot and left the Sundowns in 11th, just five points off the bottom two.

How does Diouf's effort compare to Beckham, Alonso and Figueroa's strikes

The Footballers" Football Column – Luther Blissett: Gianfranco Zola has established Watford as a force really quickly

LUTHER BLISSETT: People say Watford have exploited a loan 'loophole' but Zola has established us as a force really quickly

PUBLISHED:

10:56 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

Luther Blissett

Luther Blissett played more than 500 games for Watford and helped them to promotion from the fourth division to the top flight between 1975 and 1982. He won 14 caps for England, scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Wembley. Blissett also had a spell in Italy at AC Milan before playing for Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth and short loan at Ossie Ardiles’ West Brom in the early 1990s. In his debut Footballers’ Football Column he looks at Watford’s promotion challenge, defends the club's controversial loan signings and looks at racism in the game….

Footballers Football Column with Luther Blissett

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I’m very pleased to see Watford challenging at the top of the Championship. For all the years I have been associated with them, they have been successful club. Either challenging for promotion or the top spot, so it is great to see Gianfranco Zola’s side continue that tradition.

When they whole takeover by the Pozzo family came about, there were people who were worried that their Watford was going to drastically change.

And yes, there have been changes, but there is a long-term plan and the success we are having this season so far has been welcomed by everybody. It has opened a few people’s eyes and even the sceptics have come round to thinking, ‘Wow this is amazing.’

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

It has been great for the town and everybody connected with the club and hopefully they can carry on and see the job all the way through to the Premier League.

There has been a lot of talk about the way the club have operated in the transfer market and particularly the loan signings from Serie A side Udinese and Spanish club Granada who are also owned by the Pozzo family.

But the talk has only really come about in the last month or so since we played Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway spoke about it. But we are two-thirds of the way through the season and they have been here since the start, so why is it only an issue now

Giampaolo Pozzo

Gianfranco Zola

Working together: Watford owner Giampaolo Pozzo and manager Gianfranco Zola are aiming for promotion

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The opportunity was there for Watford to sign these players on loan, the rules allowed the club to do it. People are calling it a loophole now because Watford, in their eyes, have benefited from it, but the interpretation of the rules is the most important thing and the owners have looked at it and thought that this would be a good way of establishing Watford as a real force in this division really quickly.

When the takeover happened and the links with the two clubs were made clear, it as one of the fears among the fans that we would not see any of our own players and the club would lose its identity, but the blend has been very good between the home-grown players and the loan players.

You have the skills and the technique of the players who have come in and then you have the understanding of what the Championship is all about, plus their own ability from the home-grown players, so it has been very good.

It is a case of now trying to carry that on into the Premier League, if we get there, then trying to build on that and be able to hold our own in that league and become an established Premier League team.

I believe we can win promotion and I have felt that way since around October time. Our away form has been phenomenal, so if we can get our home form to match that then I think we have a very good chance.

Gianfranco Zola has done a great job. I speak to fans at game and they are blown away by the style of football we are playing at the moment.

The football they are producing and the quality of players we have at the club has really struck a note with the supporters and you just hope that it is the start of something big.

If Watford are promoted, it will be interesting to see if we will be playing against QPR and my old manager Harry Redknapp. QPR’s win over Southampton a few weeks ago was massive, not just for the points but for the belief it has giving them, they will now be thinking, ‘We can do this’.

They still have an awful lot to do and they still are relying on other teams dropping points, but the belief is there.

I played under Harry at Bournemouth at the beginning of his managerial career and I don’t think he has changed in that time.

The thing that struck me about him when I played under him is that he is very good man manager.

He does not take the training sessions. He is like a chef, a chef will get all the right ingredients to make a dish work, Harry is the same, he is very good at getting the right players together and then the coaches put the finishing touches in place.

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

But Harry makes sure all the right pieces are there and guide them in the right direction.
That is Harry’s biggest strength, being able to spot the pieces of the puzzle and put them together.

Talking of managers, I was very pleased to see the appointments of two managers last month, Paul Ince at Blackpool and Chris Kiwomya at Notts County. It is a step, only a small step, in the right direction for black managers in this county.

When I think back to when I started playing at the end of the 1970s, I knew wanted to be a manager, so I took my first coaching badges at 17 to give myself the best possible chance to be a manager when I finished playing.

I always believe a job should be given to someone based on their ability, not the colour of their skin or who you know someone who knows someone. Football has been like that for too long and too many managers have got jobs based on that.

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Luther Blisset of Watford

Luther Blissett, AC Milan

Making his way in the game: Blissett made his name at Watford before moving to AC Milan

I have not been a fan of something like the Rooney Rule but if it gets black mangers an interview where in the past they were not getting that opportunity, then it is a step in the right direction. I used to send off applications for jobs and occasionally I would get a letter back saying they are looking for someone more experience.

I used to wonder how much experience the people who were sending letters to me had How many games had they played I have played in different leagues and in different countries and then when someone tells me I don’t have the experience is an insult.

What about the first person who managed a football team, the first person who managed a big business What experience did they have You learn on the job but you have to be given that chance first time by someone.

Chris Kiwomya

Paul Ince

A step forward: Blissett was pleased Chris Kiwomya got the Notts County job and Blackpool appointed Paul Ince

I watch Match of the Day and I hear pundits talk about certain players and say: ‘He’ll make a great manager when he retires’ and I just think ‘Why Because you know him and he played for the same club as you’

That is their premise. How many of those pundits have ever said that about someone like Ince or Sol Campbell You hear them tipping certain players, but it is never a black player.

It is not the pundit being racist or prejudice, it is because it is not in their psyche to see a black manager. It is an unconscious thing. That needs to change.

That said, the problem with racism is better now than when I started playing in the 70s. Racism was a problem then, not just in football but in society, there were TV shows like Love Thy Neighbour in which racism was normal.

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Kevin Prince Boateng

Doing the right thing: Blissett praised Kevin-Prince Boateng for walking off when he was racially abused

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

I was abused at every stadium I went to, not just by fans but by opposition players as well. At 17-18 it had an affect on me.

But when I was in Italy at AC Milan it was bad as well, but they are making some progress, after all they were the first players to walk off the pitch.

When
Kevin-Prince Boateng was abused in a friendly game playing for AC Milan
and he booted the ball into the crowd and walked off, I thought it was
brilliant. And what made it better was that all his team-mates went off with him. That was fantastic.

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Years ago Samuel Eto'o was going to do
the same thing when he was playing for Barcelona and he was persuaded by
his team-mates to stay.

PROSTATE CANCER UK

When I was a player at Watford, Graham Taylor created a family club and encouraged us to help in the community.

I
have lost members of my family to cancer. So if I am able to do
anything to help raise money or awareness then I am more than happy to
do so. It is something that everyone will be touched by.

250,000
UK men are currently living with the disease, and every year over
40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer that is unbelievable.

So
along with Prostate Cancer UK, who are The Football League’s official
charity, we are doing a bike ride from London to Amsterdam and keen to
get fans to come along and join us and raise money, it will be an
amazing experience. I need to get on my bike and practise, it is the
saddle soreness I need to get used to more than anything, but I am
looking forward to it.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the London to Amsterdam bike ride.

If those players at that time had walked off then it would have sent a massive message out across the world.

Players have to realise they are in a very powerful position. If you were abused like that in any other profession, nobody would think any ill of you walked away, so why shouldn’t footballers do the same

The people who run football always go on about ‘the beautiful game’ and make a point of respect in the game. Where is the respect for the players who are abused like this

It is all well and good having T-shirts with ‘Respect’ on them and it ticks a box for the authorities. But when it comes to actual incidents they are the ones who have to take firm action, they just walk away from it.

Yet they will fine a player like Nicklas Bendtner for showing his pants with a sponsor on them. It’s madness.

Where were the UEFA officials at the U21 game when the England players were being abused in Serbia When you look at the people who run the game and they decide to punish the players who have been abused for the last two hours, as they did with the England players, then it shows they have no idea what racism is.

These people who run the game really need to get some education and learn about racism.

The Footballers" Football Column – Steven Reid: I carried on playing with a broken leg – there

STEVEN REID: Liam Ridgewell went to a Justin Bieber gig… he didn't even have the excuse of taking his kids – he went with one of the other West Brom lads!

PUBLISHED:

10:01 GMT, 11 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:16 GMT, 11 March 2013

Steven Reid

Steven Reid is the kind of player everyone wants in their team. He played on with a fractured leg at the Emirates this season and took it upon himself to thrash things out with Peter Odemwingie following the striker's decision to drive to QPR on transfer deadline day. He has just celebrated his 32nd birthday and is now hoping his West Brom team can qualify for Europe… even if some of his team-mates are going to Justin Bieber concerts. Before you read his Footballers' Football Column, watch his video…

Footballer's Football Column: Steven Reid, West Brom

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I didn't know it at the time that I was playing with a broken leg against Arsenal. It happened after about 10 minutes when our keeper, Boaz Myhill, cleaned me out. I knew straightaway that I had a problem. His knee has hit my knee, which was my first concern.

I was struggling for the rest of the half. Then a penalty was given against me (following a 'tackle' on Santi Cazorla) and in my own head at least I thought: 'There's no way I'm coming off now.'

When you have just given a penalty away
and then you come off… you want to stay on the pitch and turn it
around, especially with 60,000 people watching you.

Taking a tumble: Santi Cazorla (19) goes down after a challenge from Steven Reid

Taking a tumble: Santi Cazorla (19) goes down after a challenge from Steven Reid

Penalty: Arsenal are awarded a penalty after Cazorla goes down after a challenge by Reid, who was playing with a fractured leg

Penalty: Arsenal are awarded a penalty after Cazorla goes down after a challenge by Reid, who was playing with a fractured leg

I didn't have anything done at half-time. I was too annoyed about the penalty decision. I went out in the second half and, to be honest, it didn't really affect me too much. I wasn't that conscious of it.

But for two days afterwards, I couldn't walk on it.

I went for an X-ray which didn't show up anything. Then I had a scan and that shows the bone in greater definition and it came up as a fracture and I ended up being five or six weeks out.

Failed move: Peter Odemwingie could not secure his transfer away from West Brom on deadline day

Failed move: Peter Odemwingie could not secure his transfer away from West Brom on deadline day

Starting out: Reid played for Millwall alongside Tim Cahill and Neil Harris in 2001

Starting out: Reid played for Millwall alongside Tim Cahill and Neil Harris in 2001

Irish eyes: Reid won 23 caps for the Republic of Ireland

Irish eyes: Reid won 23 caps for the Republic of Ireland

More from The Footballers' Column…

Curtis Davies – The Footballers' Football Column: I knew I'd score against Blackpool, I always get goals when I play the B-teams
07/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Mark McChrystal: I haven't given up hope of winning my first full cap… And don't judge James McClean unless you know him or understand Northern Ireland
05/03/13

Ruud Gullit – The Footballers' Football Column: German teams are doing better in Champions League because they have homegrown players… English clubs have too many overpaid foreigners
02/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Brian Clark: Newcastle's 28m super scout on discovering the Ameobi brothers… oh and a chubby lad called Gascoigne
28/02/13

The Footballer's Football Column – Carolyn Radford: Life in non-League It's all fast cars and 70-year-old club secretaries
25/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Zesh Rehman: The best manager I played for was Chris Coleman at Fulham, but Robbie Fowler will go onto be a top boss… he has great man-management skills
23/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Ashley Williams: Pressure That's not playing in a final at Wembley… it's not being able to afford Christmas presents for your family. We must enjoy this moment
21/02/13

FRANK McPARLAND: Playing Real Madrid in Qatar was all well and good… but a cold, wet night in Histon is what really makes a Liverpool player
18/02/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Obviously when you are out for that long, you get the chance to watch a few games and
I went and sat with the West Brom fans at Wigan. I was under cover, a
big woolly hat covering my face, a big coat on. I was trying to keep
under the radar.

You don't
get to sit with the supporters too often, going to a game as a fan, it
gives you a different perspective. I didn't sing along with the songs –
but then I also shied away from giving the players a bit of stick.

I have played in different positions over my career, but I consider myself a right back now.
I'd like to think I could do a job in midfield if there was an injury
crisis but I feel that I have developed that side of my play.

Roy Hodgson was good for us, he did wonders for us. I was learning the defensive side of my game under him. I'm happy to play there.

Since the time I've been here the club has evolved and pushed forwards, that is why we are doing so well. They are getting a better quality of player, the right sort of player.

For example, G-Mac (Gareth McAuley) has been sensational since he arrived. He trains every day the way he plays every game – especially coming from the Championship because he hadn't played much Premier League football.

There are a few lads who have been here for a long time – such as James Morrison – he's arguably our player of the season.
The scouting department isn't going to go out and spend massive money
but we have brought in Claudio Yacob on a free. He's a tough
Argentine, a good character.

And then you have got the likes of Liam Ridgewell…he went to see Justin Bieber the other night! I'd like to offer up the fact that he went with his kids as an excuse – but he didn't…I think he went with George Thorne [West Brom's 20-year-old midfielder].

If we were to qualifying for Europe it would be an amazing achievement.
I was with Blackburn when we qualified for the UEFA Cup after finishing
sixth and it's one of the biggest achievements of my career.

It was a relatively small squad that we had at Blackburn, pretty much the same size as the one we have here at West Brom.

I think it would be the same here. When you are in it, it's tough.

Playing Thursday somewhere in Europe and then again on Sunday.

I don't think the fans get that. It's a
tiring week. It's one thing I can't have that you can't be tired if you
are playing three games in seven days. With the travel, it's hard.

Liam Ridgewell

Justin Bieber

Bieber-mania: Liam Ridgewell (left) went to a Justin Bieber (right) gig with Baggies team-mate George Thorne

NYSTAGMUS NETWORK
I am the patron of the Nystagmus Network which is a charity close to my heart. They support people with a serious eye condition. My son, Harry, aged three was diagnosed with it a while ago. It involves involuntary movement of the eye and hopefully one day there will be a cure but there's not much that can be done at the moment, sadly. Click here for more information…

Carlos Tevez facing jail threat after arrest on suspicion of driving while disaqualified

City striker Tevez could face jail after arrest on suspicion of driving while disqualified

Tevez was banned from the roads for six months in January

Police confirm a 29-year-old man was arrested on ThursdayMaximum penalty is six months in prison and 5,000 fine

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Reliable: But the forward is a consistent performer when selected

Reliable: But the forward is a consistent performer when selected

David Gill to step down at Manchester United

Ferguson pays tribute to the man he's had 'a million arguments' with as United chief exec Gill announces decision to step down

: October – Appointed vice chairman of the Football Association.
2013: February 20 – Announces he will step down as chief executive of United plc on 30 June 2013, but will remain a director of the football club.

Upon announcing his decision to stand down, he said: 'It
has been the greatest privilege to serve Manchester United for 16
wonderful years – the last 10 of which as its chief executive.

'I have worked alongside the finest
manager in the history of the game and been part of what I consider to
be the best club in the best sport in the world.

'It has been a very hard decision
because I love this club and, as the fans’ banner says, it is, ‘more
than a religion’. I’ve experienced some incredible highs, such as the
Treble in 1999 and the League and Champions League double in 2008, and
lows, like losing the title with the last kick of the season last year.

'But that is what makes this club and this sport so compelling.'

Gill,
who will remain a director at the club, was appointed vice chairman on
the Football Association in 2012 and has been nominated as its candidate
in the upcoming UEFA Executive Committee elections later this year.

He added: 'I am looking forward to
continuing my involvement on the club board. And I hope to be able to
make a contribution to the game on a wider national and European level.'

Warming up: A scarf seller sets up outside Old Trafford

Warming up: A scarf seller sets up outside Old Trafford

Looking on: Ferguson oversees United's 2-1 win over Reading on Monday evening

Looking on: Ferguson oversees United's 2-1 win over Reading on Monday evening

The Footballers" Football Column – Frank McParland: Liverpool playing Real Madrid and Histon was a real experience

FRANK McPARLAND: Playing Real Madrid in Qatar was all well and good… but a cold, wet night in Histon is what really makes a Liverpool player

PUBLISHED:

09:59 GMT, 20 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:59 GMT, 20 February 2013

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Liverpool’s Director of Academy and Player Development Frank McParland returns for his second Footballers' Football Column. He and his young players have been on their travels – from a cold wet night in Histon to taking on the might of Real Madrid in Qatar. Having watched the likes of Andre Wisdom move into the first team squad , McParland is busy developing the next generation of Anfield stars.

It's been an important couple of weeks in the education of our young players. We took a group to Qatar for the Al Kass International Cup, we played Histon in the FA Youth Cup fourth round and tonight we face Sporting Lisbon in the NextGen Series.

Qatar was fantastic. Some of the biggest clubs in the world were there: Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Fluminense, Boca Juniors, Paris St Germain and we were playing at the Aspire Zone where Manchester United had been for their break the week before.

We were there for 12 days to play in the tournament and the facilities were superb with glorious weather.

The contrast with Histon last Wednesday night was stark but so important.

Meeting an old friend: Frank McFarland with former Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes

Meeting an old friend: Frank McFarland with former Liverpool striker Fernando Morientes

We made a real point on the night of
speaking to the lads about how much we do for them. How we take them to
places like Qatar, how we play in the NextGen Series against big-name
sides and in the big stadiums. But this, in the FA Youth Cup, this is
real football and, if you can't adapt for both, you are not going to be a
top player for Liverpool Football Club.

It couldn't have been a better
leveller to keep them grounded. It was a horrible night, absolutely
freezing and the pitch at the Glass World Stadium was really
challenging.

Histon's first team had played on it the night before, there
were over 1,500 fans in the ground and they had some really good
players.

The great thing for us was that the
lads responded to what we had said. They handled the physical side and
played like proper professionals with a good attitude and controlled the
game.

We had a few Under 16s in there and it was pleasing how they came
through. Kris Peterson, Jerome Sinclair, Jack Dunn and Dan
Trickett-Smith got the goals an d we won 4-0.

Joining in: Liverpool academy players at the Shafallah Center

Joining in: Liverpool academy players at the Shafallah Center

More from The Footballers' Column…

ROHAN RICKETTS: Cows in the road and Twitter row meant my Indian adventure ended early… but I went back in time to live the dream in South America
16/02/13

RICHARD LEE: If League Two Bradford can make it to Wembley, what's stopping us at League One Brentford knocking Chelsea out of the FA Cup
14/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Kevin Ball: I was really good at tackling, but I would have been sent off today… And it is the refs I feel sorry for as they can't win
13/02/13

Watching Brazil was like buying a ticket to see Beyonce and ending up with SuBo… England may have won, but the Thomas Ince tale reveals everything that's wrong with our game
13/02/13

ASHLEY WILLIAMS: The ball-boy row, my spat with Suarez and 'almost killing' Van Persie – you learn to live with it… playing for 80 and working as a waiter – THAT was hard
11/02/13

LEON OSMAN: What makes an Everton player Desire, heart, quality and character… But Pienaar reckons it takes a bit of the Bee Gees, too
07/02/13

ADAM ECKERSLEY: I played with Beckham and Ronaldo – but Becks was better… and on one of the few occasions Fergie spoke to me, he warned me of dangers of gambling
05/02/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Edgar Davids: If Platini can't stop racism, he should step aside and get someone in who can… Blatter and Cruyff should be leading by example
01/02/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

The aim is to keep educating and make these young players more rounded as men and footballers who will help the first team.

It was pleasing last month that when Andre Wisdom got his new long-term contract he came down to the Academy at Kirkby to thank the coaches and staff for their help in his development. It was a nice touch.

We take pride in the fact that as well as Andre and Raheem Sterling, Conor Coady is training with the first team – as is Suso – but they all take time to come across to the Academy not just to see their mates but to keep in touch with the staff.

We're still here for them if they need us and it shows they appreciate what we have done.

Qatar was a great learning experience on and off the pitch for the lads. There was a big focus on the Al Kass tournament and every game was live on TV.

They had to deal with different styles and approaches in the games. Against Esperance Sportive, of Tunisia, for example, Jerome Sinclair came in for a bit of rough treatment where one of their guys kneed him in the back three times. He didn't react once.

It's something we constantly tell them. It's not always easy in the face of provocation but teams from abroad will try different things.

Some defenders will spit at you, some will pull at you, block you, the important part is you have to stay in control.

The play-off games pitched us against Real Madrid and gave me a chance to catch up with Fernando Morientes who is part of their U17s coaching set-up now. I played a part in helping bring Fernando to Liverpool from Madrid and it was good to catch up with him.

We lost 2-1 to Madrid but Rodolfo Borrell, our head of coaching, was chatting to their staff afterwards and they were complimentary about our style of play.

We had given them their best game they said and they also believed we played more like a continental side than typical British one. It's always beneficial to hear that sort of feedback.

Tournaments often mean players have a lot of downtime and we've stressed how they need to be responsible in this time for themselves and the club. Liverpool are really powering forward off the pitch in terms of embracing new media and embarking on different commercial activities to spread the word about the club and the players got a taste of what may lie ahead.

Stepping up: Andre Wisdom has moved up into the first team squadStepping up: Andre Wisdom has moved up into the first team squad

Stepping up: Andre Wisdom has moved up into the first team squad

Doing their bit: The Liverpool players with disabled children at the Shafallah Center

Doing their bit: The Liverpool players with disabled children at the Shafallah Center

Dee Kundra, the club's PR manager, came with us. Dee was the only woman in the group and while the lads stopped short of calling her 'Miss', they were all on their best behaviour, no swearing and all putting on their best manners.

Dee co-ordinated with Standard Chartered, our sponsors, to set up a visit to the Shafallah Centre in Doha which is a place for children with special needs and some are severely disabled.

It was an incredible experience for the lads and they got really involved. They helped out not just in the sports classes but the music ones.

We were actually due to leave when one of the children started playing a Justin Bieber song and Jordan Rossiter, one of our 16-year-olds, made sure everyone waited until the song was finished and all the players stood and gave a round of applause.

It underlined to the lads how important a role they can play in other people's lives.

Guitar hero: Justin Bieber performs in Oakland, California last October

Guitar hero: Justin Bieber performs in Oakland, California last October

We spent an evening with the supporters club out there also and gave them official status as the Qatar Reds with a little certificate presentation. Even the British ambassador Michael O'Neill professed to being a Liverpool fan.

He went to our first game and asked us to put on a coaching session for Doha College at the embassy.

Myself and the lads also had a little treat as Spain were over playing Uruguay so we took the chance to get our pictures taken with the World Cup and European Championships trophies that they had brought over.

There's no harm in dreaming – even for me.

Different ball game: The players join in with a game at the Shafallah Center

Different ball game: The players join in with a game at the Shafallah Center

SEEING IS BELIEVING
Frank and the Liverpool FC Academy support the Seeing is Believing campaign

Media training is something that has become pivotal to our young players' education and we work hard on that. Being
prepared for what questions they may face as they develop is another
facet we have to take care of and they got some good experience after
the games.

There was one particularly where Jerome Sinclair, Jordan Ibe, Dan Trickett-Smith and Cameron Branningan had to deal with answering questions post-match on their headphones and wait for the translation from Arabic.

They handled it brilliantly.

Liverpool has also launched 10 new international Twitter feeds, which means we have overtaken Barcelona as the most globally active club. The idea is to interact with fans more so we have feeds in areas such as Bahrain, India, Turkey, Spain and Thailand and we use local people on the ground to bring conversations from fans to the club.

I'm not sure I believe all the lads though. Jordan Ibe said he wanted to be a maths teacher in one of his Twitter questions… I didn’t even know he liked maths.

Time for a photo: The team pose with chairman Hassan Ali Bin Ali

Time for a photo: The team pose with chairman Hassan Ali Bin Ali

Doing it for the kids: The Liverpool players put a smile on the faces of the children

Doing it for the kids: The Liverpool players put a smile on the faces of the children

Pass and move: The players teach the children the Liverpool way

Pass and move: The players teach the children the Liverpool way

Supporters would have been aware that for the West Bromwich Albion Barclay's Premier League game last Monday, the first team wore shirts with the 'Seeing is Believing' logo as part of Standard Chartered's campaign. The shirts have been signed by the first team and are to be auctioned off on e-Bay to raise money for the charity. It's also something we got our lads involved in at the Academy.

A week before we went to Qatar, we had a few young people from Royal Society for the Blind down and got involved in some coaching sessions.

Again, it was rewarding how the lads responded. They really looked after the people they were paired with and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.

The downside to a footballer's life was brought home when Marc Pelosi suffered a bad injury against West Brom on Sunday as the U21s won 2-1. Marc is 18.

He is a versatile midfielder who had been playing really well of late but a tackle two minutes from the end broke his leg in two places.

He spent the night in hospital for his operation but he will be looking at around six months out.

It's not been a great month for injuries with Brad Smith our Australian left-back and Sami Yesil, the German striker we bought last summer, both injuring anterior cruciate ligaments also.

A young footballer's life isn't always as perfect as it seems and it's important at this stage we give them plenty of support. We obviously wish them all a speedy and full recovery.

Jordan Ibe’s responses to questions from the Turkish Twitter feed @LFCTurkey
Jordan Ibe

How did you feel in your debut with LFC
I felt quite nervous and it was a lot to take in as I didn't know I was starting

What's is your favourite food Do you have a special food pre-games
Food before a game is usually pasta and mince but my favourite food is macaroni cheese!!

How does it feel to be a part of LFC How did it happen
I was playing for the first team at Wycombe Wanderers at 15 then LFC came for me and I've never looked back

Who is your best mate in the team
Ryan McLaughlin…we're the youngest in the reserves so we get along well

How do you describe the fans
Fans are amazing! I'm always impressed with the support they give us young players

If you weren't a footballer, which profession would you choose If you we're to be a coach, which team would you like to coach
I love maths so would've been a maths teacher. I'd coach Chelsea for sure!

How is it like to be in the same team with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher
They are both really supportive and encouraging of young players and make us feel welcome in training

What are your future plans with LFC Can you tell us about the first moment he heard LFC's interest for him
Hope to stay here as long as I can. I was excited about a big club showing interest in me

Who is your idol in football
Brazil's Ronaldo!!!

What type of music and which artists do you enjoy listening to
I like all music apart from opera and rock n roll. Listening to Chris Brown and Drake at the moment