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Pleat's programme notes

Posted on 26 September 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

Tonight’s return against Brentford gives us an opportunity to show our perceived superiority. Unfortunately, last Tuesday, on a lousy wet evening, the home team tactic of harassing, closing down and scrapping for every ball proved quite effective while we were disappointing in our efforts to overcome a type of approach that we should have expected.

What was more disappointing to me and rather surprising in view of amount of time I have known the Brentford chairman and manager, were the comments attributed to Ron Noades in the following morning’s press that Brentford knew they had a chance when they saw Ramon Vega coming on to the field.

The following evening on a radio show I’m told these comments were repeated. Maybe someone should remind Ron that when we won the League Cup two years ago the catalyst was Ramon’s finely headed goal at Griffin Park at the beginning of the Cup run which helped us to go on to win the second leg as well.

As an ex-manager I have seen at times that football shoots itself in the foot and loses its own dignity. Consider the amount of managers nowadays who constantly whinge about referees. Referees make decisions honestly and no amount of moaning and complaining will make them change their minds.

At Griffin Park, Matthew Etherington got an opportunity to show his promising wing play but for some unaccountable reason never looked comfortable. Youngsters are strange characters, sometimes one doesn’t know what either motivates them or indeed makes them nervous.

We all send our best wishes to Sol Campbell who suffered an unfortunate dislocated shoulder. However, the vibes are good but we have to make sure that this kind of injury is fully recovered and it certainly looks as though England will not have his services for the two approaching World Cup qualifiers.

Talking of dignity, I was also disappointed with a quick comment from the Charlton MD Mr Varney after our tribunal result concerning our schoolboy player Owen Price. We offered £4,000 in compensation for one year’s training at Charlton Athletic (Charlton had asked for £30,000). In view of the fact that Charlton had enticed Owen away from Millwall where he had served two years - and they have only received £600 — it seemed quite reasonable to offer over six times as much for only one year’s training.

When we signed Owen Price he had become de-registered from Charlton and was a free agent. We were happy to pay £10,000 for his registration but undoubtedly feel that the perimeters sets for tribunals on schoolboys do not stack up, apart from the fact that there is something quite immoral about it. It is ironic that soon we may have freedom of movement with no transfer fees for senior professionals and yet we are being asked to compensate clubs in thousands of pounds for ‘babies.’

While we await a decision by the European Union, all Premiership club chairmen are holding back on buying players. Obviously we have our eyes on several players but we await a ruling on future transfers before going ahead.

The situation is so complex that you could spend £10 million on a player who could just walk away the following year. If that happens obviously there will no longer be a transfer fee but wages will escalate. That in itself would not be a problem here but we need guidance on the matter and we need it quickly.

It's very frustrating for everyone involved at the moment and we are hoping that UEFA and FIFA will quickly sort something out with the EU. However, the latest news is that it will be some time before we get any guarantees.

Finally, I hope tonight’s game gives value for money and we hit some form before our tricky away game at Leeds. Whether we win lose or draw I am sure our club will not get involved in critical comments or acting without humility in victory.