Ian Holloway: Too many will end up like George Best
Football has a real problem with morality and the game has a duty to stamp out culture of excess
Sunday 12 September 2010
All of us, and this most certainly includes footballers, have a responsibility when it comes to values and morals and standards.
Simply being courteous to other human beings, showing politeness and manners, is absolutely vital in life. Unfortunately I think some of that is getting lost in football.
Forgetting your manners is easy when you are a kid and someone is waiting on you hand, foot and finger. All you have to do as a young player is get in on time. You don't even have to bring your boots. Your kit is washed and provided. You haven't got to remember anything other than what your manager is telling you.
I think now more than ever is the time when football clubs, particularly in the Premier League where there is so much focus and media attention, have to be really careful about responsibility. Managers have a role to play, and so have football clubs and the player himself.
In my opinion we've got a real problem. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic examples of people who have been at the top of the game all their lives and never put a foot wrong, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes for starters.
But I have a photo of George Best on the wall of my office at Blackpool and how his life went is one of the saddest things ever. He was one of the most brilliant players of all time, but he was the world's first superstar footballer and it cost him. I think we may have a lot more George Bests around if we're not careful.
We have people with a lot of time and a lot of money who go into clubs, and they have VIP areas where they drink champagne. The game has got to do an awful lot more to help eradicate that type of behaviour.
For me many of the problems started with the Bosman ruling in 1995. It was effectively put in by one bloke who was being held in Belgium because his club wouldn't let him leave, even though his contract had run out. He quite rightly fought them in a court. But the court changed the rules for everybody – including the rules in England, which were perfectly fine as they were – and the game has gone crazy because of that.
Now some players are actively encouraged to let their contract run out so they can get a big move and earn loads of money.
The football club used to have the power, which meant the player had to behave how the club told him.
My generation knew that if we were out of contract we had to try and earn another one. But now there is no responsibility because when a player is out of contract and over the age of 24, the responsibility goes to his agent to find him a new job.
It almost breeds disloyalty and it breeds a player that even the agent hasn't got control of. So who do they listen to? They listen to whoever they like. And if you don't tell them what they want to hear, they won't listen to you either.
On top of that you've got this mad society we're living in. I can't imagine, when my dad was alive 20-odd years ago, our family sitting down and watching some of the TV programmes that we now have, not because they weren't on but because they wouldn't have been popular.
I'm talking about X Factor and Big Brother, this celebrity culture. Someone who isn't even a celebrity goes on there but because they are quite extrovert, we sit and watch them and make them a celebrity.
Mobile phones as well. You can use a phone as a camera, even when a person might not know that they are being filmed. So it is going to be out there and someone will want it and pay money for it. It is absolute nonsense but it's the way the world has gone and it's why footballers, with their huge wealth and the massive media spotlight, have to behave.
If you look at the real top people in the world, whether they are singers or film stars, they have a duty to be good people before anything else.
That is what I want football to try and get back to, but unfortunately I don't think that is encouraged by this mad, crazy, celebrity-obsessed world we live in.
Bit rough to name dog after me
I have had a dog named after me. The owner of our club, Owen Oyston, has bought four Great Danes and named one of them Ollie.
The other three are Valery – after our president – Charlie and Brett. The last two are Charlie Adam and Brett Ormerod, who played a major part in winning us promotion last season.
It's flattering but I'm not sure Owen knows what he has let himself in for. Great Danes are massive and I know he's a rich fella who's got a bit of land, but even so – they will be a nightmare to look after. He'll need a huge car to get them all in. And the worse thing about dogs is clearing up behind them, so that's some bag he's going to have to carry round with him!
Far too soon for me to care about World Cup flops
I did not watch either of England's Euro qualifiers, partly down to moving house but mainly because I've lost interest.
Even though we've won twice, which I'm delighted about, I don't feel as though I've missed much. I just can't get enthusiastic when the World Cup has only just finished. For me that's the big competition and it was disastrous.
It is just too soon for me to be caring about England at the minute.
I've also not had the time to because I've been working so hard in the job I've got, trying to get Blackpool sorted out in the transfer window. The last thing I'm thinking at the moment is "I must sit down and watch some of these lads in this new England team".
And is it really a new England team? I don't know yet. If John Terry and Frank Lampard are fit, will they go back in? They probably will.
I'm pleased we've started well and hopefully everybody will be a bit more upbeat now. But I am finding it really tough to even worry about it at the minute.
I need international rescuing
Having to deal with players who have been away on international duty is a whole new ball game for me and I am having to learn fast. What I can't believe is that in the last two weeks I've only had all my players in for training twice. I have found that very difficult to get my head around and I don't like it at all.
I used to read what bigger and better managers than myself said about internationals, complaining about this and that, and I'd think: "What are they moaning about?" Now I know.
You haven't got your squad to work with, so you can't prepare your team anything like well enough. And then you never know what mood a player will be in when he does finally return. If his country has had a great result then brilliant, he will be confident. But if they've had a bad result, or if they don't play, they might come back worse than they went.
My midfielder Charlie Adam was like Mr Angry when he turned up for training on Thursday because he didn't get to play for Scotland. So I've got to learn how to deal with that as well.
Obviously it must be fantastic playing for your country. I don't ever want to belittle that. I was never given the opportunity because I wasn't good enough. But it doesn't half give managers problems, something I'm finding out for the first time.
A great win, but I didn't really want us to play
I am delighted after my lads turned in one of the best performances since I took over as manager, in beating Newcastle.
I don't want to single anyone out because it was the complete performance. OK, Newcastle had chances but they were the home team and that was bound to happen. We played so well and given the quality of DJ Campbell's finish at the end, after we soaked up so much pressure... I don't think anyone can say we didn't deserve the points.
I can't say I enjoyed the afternoon, though, because part of me didn't want the match to go ahead. Our youth-team coach, Gary Parkinson, is really poorly and having to break the news to the lads on Friday was the hardest thing I've had to do as a manager. Many of us were in tears and it speaks volumes about my lads, and what kind of people they are, that when Charlie Adam and DJ celebrated their goals, they held up a shirt with Parky's name on it.
Like the rest of us, we want to send our love and best wishes to Gary, his wife Debbie and their children. The game doesn't seem important after a thing like that but we had to be professional and we were.
We have made a fantastic start and no doubt we have shocked a lot of people. But a start is all it is. It was great to end Newcastle's 26-game unbeaten home record. Now we have to try to end Chelsea's home run next week. Simple, isn't it?
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