Football: `Women should be in the kitchen, not in football'

Phil Shaw on the wit and wisdom of `Big Fat Ron', a manager never short of a bottle of bubbly or a pithy comment or six
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The Independent Online
As Said By Ron

I NEVER comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat. After West Brom's Uefa Cup defeat by Red Star Belgrade, 1979.

You're welcome to my home phone number, gentlemen. But please remember not to ring me during The Sweeney. On being appointed Manchester United manager, 1981.

It's bloody tough being a legend. At United, 1983.

Q: What's the Gidman situation, Ron? Is he in plaster? A: No, he's in Marbella. Press conference exchange at Old Trafford, 1985.

Balloon ball. The percentage game. Route One. It's crept into the top division. We get asked to lend youngsters to these teams but we won't do it. They come back with bad habits, big legs and good eyesight. At the time of Watford's success with the long-ball game, 1984.

Half an hour? You could shoot Ben Hur in half an hour. You've got 15 seconds. To a photographer who asked for 30 minutes, 1984.

I've had to swap my Merc for a BMW. I'm down to my last 37 suits and I'm drinking non-vintage champagne. On life after the sack by United, 1987.

I believe there are only a select few managers who can handle the real giants of this world. I happen to be one of them. At Atletico Madrid, a month before his dismissal, 1988.

These Iraqis don't take any prisoners. Summarising for ITV at the World Cup finals, 1986.

Blimey, you're the first bird I've met with an FA coaching badge. To a female journalist who asked about Sheffield Wednesday's long-ball game under his predecessor, 1989.

Women should be in the discotheque, the boutique and the kitchen, but not in football. As Wednesday manager, 1989.

I always make sure I write Atkinson, D on the team sheet. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making a mistake. On his namesake Dalian's enigmatic form at Aston Villa, 1993.

The criterion I've always used to judge my teams is: do I enjoy watching them? Enjoying Wednesday's renaissance, 1990.

I just bumped into Cyrille Regis and I said: "What's all this crap about you finding God? You worked with him at West Brom for four years." After a match at Coventry, 1990.

We had a full, serious and constructive discussion at half-time - then decided to give it the full bollocks. After Villa hit back to win, 1993.

At least we were consistent - useless in defence, mediocre in midfield and crap up front. After a Villa defeat at Coventry, 1992.

The only way I'd be interested in the England job is as player- manager. The eternal five-a-side player, 1994.

Just think - Barbra Streisand and Ron Atkinson at Wembley in the same year. Win, lose or draw it's got to be a great season. Preparing Villa for the Coca-Cola Cup final, 1994.

There are one or two players about who'd like it renamed the Vodka and Coca-Cola Cup. Before the final, 1994.

The highlight of my World Cup was bumping into Frank Sinatra at the Friday night concert in LA. I turned the corner with Gary Newbon and there he was with Bob Hope. After USA 94.

My missus reckons that if people don't recognise me in the street, I go back and tell them who I am. After becoming Coventry manager, 1995.

Rarely in my life have I felt more disappointed - no, worse than that, absolutely disgusted - by the pin stripes in the boardroom who have sold me out. "Numb with betrayal" after sacking by Wednesday, 1998.

About Ron

AS FAR as he's concerned, he's God. There's nobody big enough to tell him what to do. MARGARET ATKINSON, first wife, after news broke of an extra-marital affair, 1984.

This person suffers a lot from erotic fantasies. He thinks a lot about sex, though he is devoted to his mother. GRAPHOLOGIST commissioned by ITV to analyse Atkinson's writing before FA Cup final, 1985.

I've already paid him pounds 250,000 in compensation. Now he wants pounds 50,000 more. He thinks my name is Onassis. JESUS GIL, Atletico Madrid president, 1989.

The only relaxed boss is Big Ron. He had me drinking pink champagne - before a match. HARRY REDKNAPP, West Ham manager, 1995.

They call him Big Fat Ron because he's a big spender on transfers. I just call him Fat Ron. MALCOLM ALLISON, 1993.

Ron is one of the top three managers in the country. DOUG ELLIS, Villa chairman, three weeks before sacking him, 1994.

Ron is the last of the great character managers, who can run a club on their personality and knowledge. I try to tell people here that they have a bonus by playing under him, because his like will not be seen again. GORDON STRACHAN shortly before succeeding him at Coventry, 1996.