Football as a team game was never more focussed than when David Beckham, Sven Goran Eriksson and Alex Ferguson received awards at last Sunday’s BBC ‘Sports Review.’ All paid tribute to their colleagues and their coaches who have worked so professionally.
At Craven Cottage Christian Damiano has worked with other French colleagues and with Jean Tigana to make Fulham play in their successful manner. They have, of course, accumulated along the way, with Mohamed Al Fayed’s support, several very fine players like Steed Malbranque, Sylvian Legwinski, Steve Marlet, Louis Saha, Edwin van der Sar and Alain Goma. They are determined to stay in the top flight and have big plans.
Our team behind the scenes has bedded in well. John Gorman is a feisty and ebullient aide to Glenn Hoddle and has the experience of ‘paddling his own canoe’ at Swindon. Chris Hughton also is now gaining considerable experience and is one of the senior selected candidates on the FA Pro Licence Scheme this season for English coaches.
Last week the applicants for next year’s course were discussed at our LMA ‘think-tank’ meeting held in Baslow, near Chesterfield. At that meeting Howard Wilkinson was in the chair and with chief executive John Barnwell, Dave Bassett, myself and Frank Clark looked at several ways and means that we could streamline our association to maximise our in-house experience.
We must train, encourage and educate our future managers to gain better qualifications. Only in this way — and if chairmen select managers sensibly — will the standard of leadership improve. Otherwise we will be continually looking abroad for coaches/ managers.
Also in Glenn’s coaching team is Hans Segers, now in his third season as a goalkeeper coach since joining us after a playing career that included Wimbledon. Pat Jennings is also still lending his valuable assistance. Glenn’s immediate support team also includes fitness coach Kunle Odetoyinbo, now in his fourth year, and physios Ally Beattie and Chic Wilkinson who joined us from Derby County.
That team is backed up by masseur Paul Roberts and sports psychologist John Syer who has previously worked with Spurs. He is well respected and our players can only be better for gaining a more rounded understanding of their roles in relation to their colleagues.
It has been a good week at the club for the youngsters, 3-0 and 7-0 wins on Saturday coming after a fine FA Youth Cup victory at Walsall by 5-1. John Sutton, brother of Celtic’s Chris and who was recently left out of an Academy game, showed his drive and determination by scoring two goals at Walsall and four on Saturday against Reading to complete a fine week.
We now meet Bolton Wanderers in the next round of the FA Youth Cup at the Reebok Stadium on or before January 26.
Recent Premiership results have proved beyond question the unpredictably of the league. Apart from Manchester United's recent stutter, clubs have been yo-yoing with no consistency. Chelsea, for example winning at Manchester then coming home and not succeeding against Charlton Athletic. Aston Villa, two nil up at Arsenal but failing to hold on, Leicester City surprisingly losing so heavily to Southampton after looking more comfortable.
There are going to be many more ups and downs between now and the end of the season. We must continue the high standards set on Tuesday night against Bolton to erase the bad memory of the Charlton reverse last weekend.
We are delighted that there is another full house here today and that on your journey home you will be able to reflect on some outstanding and hopefully winning play.
Enjoy the game.
A warm welcome to Premiership newcomers Fulham, a team that captured the imagination of many football followers last season with their imaginative play and exciting individual forward ability.