Brentford's 'Mad Dog' Allen can bite former mentor

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Martin Allen believes his players will be unaffected by the ticketing controversy which has marred the build-up to Brentford's FA Cup trip to Southampton today.

Martin Allen believes his players will be unaffected by the ticketing controversy which has marred the build-up to Brentford's FA Cup trip to Southampton today.

The club sold their allocation of 3,200 seats within hours and, with many more fans keen to travel, Allen warned that there could be a "potentially very dangerous situation".

He expressed fears that fans could resort to buying tickets in other parts of the ground reserved for home supporters but said he was determined to not let the situation affect his players' preparation. "We just need to keep pressing on and off the field," he said. "My full concentration is just on the team at the moment and as a team all we can do is keep on improving."

The Bees will be attempting to reach the sixth round for only the fourth time. The last time was 1989, when they were beaten 4-0 by Liverpool . Their last Cup win against a team from the top division was in 1949. On that occasion, they beat Burnley 4-2 in the fifth round.

The match has an added incentive for Allen as it pits him against his former manager Harry Redknapp. Allen played under Redknapp at West Ham and the chance to face him, plus the opportunity for his squad to lock horns with Premiership players, is the reason he believes the FA Cup still remains as exciting as it has ever been. "I don't think the FA Cup has lost its magic," he said. "Some of the bigger clubs might be thinking more about the Champions' League rather than the FA Cup but for the rest of us the magic is still there."

For his part, Redknapp said he backs the man they call "Mad Dog" to succeed in a top job in English football. Redknapp inherited Allen at Upton Park when he took over as manager in 1994.

The ferocious tackler was part of a hard-living group including Don Hutchison, John Moncur and Julian Dicks - all even more notorious for their off-the-field brushes with authority than their tough approach on the pitch.

"They were quite a mad brigade I had there early on," said Redknapp. "They were beyond discipline sometimes. It was unbelievable - you had to be on your toes with them because they could be absolutely mad, a real challenge. I couldn't begin to describe some of what they got up to, but they were all good lads and none better than Martin.

"He never went entirely overboard. He was a character, somebody you needed in the dressing-room when things got a bit rough and I always thought he would make a decent manager because he was always up for the fight."

Redknapp, who sold Allen, now 39, to Portsmouth, added: "I guess most people know he was called Mad Dog at West Ham and he doesn't seem to have changed too much since.

"He jumped in a river before the game against Hartlepool in the last round apparently and now he says he will swim in the Solent. I hope he's got his water wings."

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