Dean Holdsworth has Shot at Manchester United upset

The Aldershot manager tells Mike McGrath about death threats and cheap plonk as he prepares for the Reds at the Rec tonight

If conceding six goals against their closest rivals came as a shock to Manchester United, then wait until they step off the team coach at Aldershot Town's home at the Recreation Ground tonight. The recovery for Sir Alex Ferguson's team starts at a ground holding little more than 7,000 supporters, with terracing behind each goal and facilities to test the character of United's players two days after their humiliation against Manchester City.

They will also be facing a team that scored five themselves over the weekend, albeit in League Two at Dagenham & Redbridge.

The Aldershot manager, Dean Holdsworth, knows all about battling against the odds from his time in the "Crazy Gang" at Wimbledon and he believes the ingredients are there for a Carling Cup giant-killing.

"I don't know if our changing room is big enough to get all their players and staff in," said Holdsworth. "They might need a Portakabin out the back and it could be a bit of a reality check for them. But we won't be turning off the hot water. The Crazy Gang's not here."

Holdsworth describes Ferguson as "probably the greatest manager to have ever lived" and will invite his counterpart for a glass of wine after the tie. "It's Blue Nun from 1992 – a good year because I joined Wimbledon that year. Only kidding. I'll sort out a good bottle," said the 42-year-old.

But Holdsworth's respect for Ferguson has not prevented him from attempting mind games ahead of the fourth-round tie. His team will be wearing their away strip, rather than their red-and-blue colours, after enjoying success in white earlier in the competition. "Playing in the all-white kit is my superstitious thing," he said. "We've worn it in every round. I've got loads of superstitions. I salute magpies – I go mad when I see more than one."

Excitement over the tie has been growing. Last week the local newspaper printed a souvenir poster, and the local radio station is sending a reporter to Farnborough Airport to cover United's arrival today.

It is the biggest match of Holdsworth's managerial career following his time as a striker for Brentford and Bolton Wanderers as well as Wimbledon. He scored against United on the day they won their first Premier League title, in 1993, but admitted his mind was distracted after receiving a death threat on the eve of the clash.

"I scored a back-post header past Peter Schmeichel but the night before I got a call saying if I scored tomorrow, I'd be dead," he said. "I rang Sam Hammam [the Wimbledon chairman] and he told me it was him playing a prank. But when I scored I was still looking over my shoulder – I was so worried. Sam told me after it wasn't him – he'd just told me that to keep me calm."

After Wimbledon he went to Bolton where he played more than 150 times and learnt his managerial style from Sam Allardyce, who had his West Ham United team knocked out by Aldershot earlier in the competition.

"He taught me: 'If they're not good enough, get them fit enough'," said Holdsworth, who received a good-luck message from Allardyce ahead of the tie. "We've made huge steps. They asked me to bring the football back, a passing style. It's changed so much, on and off the pitch. We're moving in the right direction."

Progress for the Shots has come under the guidance of Kris Machala, their chairman, who took over the reins last April after remortgaging his house to invest. Nineteen years after they folded and reformed, Machala expects them to turn a profit this year.

"Our whole wage bill is £90,000 a month. The comparison is that Manchester United can pay £100,000 a week," said Machala. "But this match will put the Aldershot name on the map.

"You might say I'm not a typical chairman. We are not multimillionaires. I had to remortgage my house to put the money into the football club. It's a different situation and I'm here every day. It's not like [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich. He can put his money in and doesn't have to get involved in the day-to-day side of the operation. It's different. It's a small club, we have about six or seven staff."

Machala bemoaned the extra costs of hosting United: £18,000 for policing, splitting the revenue with United and giving the Football League their percentage. So there is an even bigger incentive to shock United as an away tie in the quarter-finals will be lucrative.

For the forward Danny Hylton, this is a chance to put himself in the shop window and then swap shirts with Michael Owen after the final whistle. "I'm going to man-mark him as soon as he comes here," he said.

Hylton is hoping United players are put off by the surroundings, adding: "Berbatov doesn't look like he's interested when he's playing in the Premier League, so what's he going to be like playing down here?

"Hopefully he'll have an off day. Hopefully 11 of them will have off days."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering