Paolo’s ban on ketchup was too saucy

I HATE to see a manager sacked but I wasn’t surprised to see Paolo Di Canio leave Sunderland. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always felt the key to success was having everybody on board.

And I don’t just mean players. I mean the washerwoman, the guy on reception, the people who worked in the kitchens. I valued them all and wanted them to know it.


If I found out my players didn’t speak to them and pass the time of day, I’d find them and give them a roasting.

So what was Di Canio thinking banning his players from talking to staff on match days? I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.

And I wouldn’t have done anything like ban players  from having ketchup or mayonnaise. I’d have let them have a pizza.

A lot of new managers come into the game and look for things to change. And that’s fair enough in terms of fitness, data analysis and so on. It’s all important.

But for me, none of it is as important as bringing the whole team together. Everyone has to feel loved, important and respected. If you’re banning everything and imposing strict rules, that won’t happen.

Personally, I think the writing was on the wall when Di Canio criticised John O’Shea for making a bad tackle that got him sent off against Palace.  It was a bad error, but there was no need to lambast him in public.

When you’re struggling for results and the players don’t fancy you, you need your captain on side. You need an ally in the dressing room. Instead, he alienated him. At that point, I knew it would be difficult for him to continue.

I had a pop at individuals now and then, but only if they did something drastically wrong.

And I never attacked the players collectively. That can’t do any good at all.


DID you see what Cameron Stewart was saying this week? He’s had six managers in a year – one walked out and

Steer clear: Cameron Stewart has a pedigree of losing managers.

Steer clear: Cameron Stewart has a pedigree of losing managers.

two got the sack!

First, Nick Barmby was fired by Hull. Then he went on loan to Burnley and Eddie Howe walked out after four games. Then Michael Appleton signed him for Blackburn and got sacked a few weeks later.

Now he’s at Charlton and by all accounts they were rubbish last week so it doesn’t augur well for poor Chris Powell.

I’d have kept quiet about that if I was young Cameron. If I was managing and knew that, I wouldn’t touch him!


LAST week we talked about Millwall turning things round by winning two on the trot. This week it’s all about Birmingham and Lee Clark.

What happened last weekend was a manager’s dream. You’re desperate for a win, desperate for goals. Everything is doom and gloom.

Then you sign a young lad on loan and he scores four goals on debut! What a start for Jesse Lingaard and what a signing by Lee.

Then a couple of days later, you play Swansea, the Capital One Cup holders, and knock them out of the competition. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I don’t know a great deal about Lingaard, the striker they got on loan from Manchester United. But I do know I’ve never in all my years seen a young kid score four times on debut.

He looks sharp, but better still, he’ll give everybody – fans, team-mates and Lee – a big lift. They know they’ve got someone who can do the business.

With the financial restraints at Birmingham, it’s going to be tough. For me, the key to their season is Chris Burke. He’s been at the top of my list for a couple of years now and  when he plays well, the whole team plays well.


WELL done to my old centre-half Paul Cox at Mansfield. It’s fantastic to see them up at the top end of League Two after so many lean years.

When I had Paul, he wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He was a really quiet lad, definitely one of the game’s thinkers.

He was so laid back. Nothing seemed to bother him, to the extent that there were plenty of occasions when I felt the need to give him a kick up the backside!

He was bit like Phil Jagielka. Jags has come out of his shell these days, but at Sheffield United he kept himself to himself and just got on with his job.

But Paul clearly took it all on board because he’s doing a great job. I wonder if he ever thinks of me when he gives someone a rocket!


AFTER Billy Sharp joined Reading on loan from Southampton this week, I heard some Leeds fans on the radio complaining that they should have signed him.

I’d agree they need a striker but, if my experience there is anything to go by, they can’t afford that kind of money.

Mind you, I’m not a great fan of Sharp. I think he’s a great goalscorer who will always bag you a few. In front of goal, he’s deadly. But he wouldn’t be a regular in my team because I’m not convinced his contribution to the team is enough. He’s like a Championship Jermaine Defoe – he’ll score goals but that’s all.

For all Defoe plays for England, he isn’t a regular for either club or country and I think it’s because managers don’t think he’ll work enough for the side.

It’s finding that balance because you’ve basically got to play a system specifically to suit him. It’s the same with Sharp.

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