Ian Holloway: We could all do with more common sense – so let's hear it from the girls
A ticket gets you into a venue. It shouldn't be about killing the manager
Sunday 25 September 2011
If the FA have anything about them, they would be looking at what happened in Turkey this week and trying to get in on the act.
The Turkish Football Association played a blinder by allowing women and children free entry to a Fenerbahce match that was supposed to be played behind closed doors; 41,000 turned up and the players – used to performing in front of crazy crowds – said it was the nicest atmosphere they had ever experienced.
I thought that was brilliant, but let's not just read about it in the papers. It is something that should cause a few blazers at the top of the game here to use their nous and think, "hang on a minute, there might be something in this".
I accept the logistics of getting it to happen are really difficult. You can't give a free ticket to a woman when there is a bloke sitting next to her who shelled out for a season ticket. He would rightly be fuming.
The FA should think again about the family ticket, revamp it and really push it. I've been a massive supporter of it at every club I've been at and most of them do good deals for families now.
But where they miss a trick is not giving a few extra perks. What I'm saying is a family ticket shouldn't just entitle people to watch the football, it should allow them to use the amenities, have a free pie and a drink. That would make the experience more enjoyable straight off.
More women would also change the atmosphere inside grounds for the better. Football is an egotistical game. Players need an ego to be able to play and be judged each week. And crowds can become egotistical about their club, which is why Arsenal fans found the result at Manchester United so hard to swallow and why there is so much flak being aimed in Arsène Wenger's direction.
Women wouldn't look at it like that, nor would kids. They might accept a defeat and move on, and maybe we as blokes would learn from them if we were watching.
You only have to ask yourself what the world would be like if women were in charge. There wouldn't have been any wars. Blokes want to shoot, bomb and kill people. Women have just as much passion but channel it better. On the whole, they are a lot more rational and apply common sense, and God knows we could do with a bit more of that in football.
I think the make-up of crowds has already changed from 20 years ago when I was playing. Back then it was very male-orientated and you had to take some fierce stick.
Over the years I have learned that the harder your life is and the more of a struggle you've got, the more difficult the world gets. For those people, a football ground becomes somewhere to vent your spleen. You can take out your frustration on someone.
Part of me thinks that's fair enough. After all, fans pay a lot of money for their ticket – way too much most of the time. But where does it say on the ticket that you are guaranteed a win? The ticket gets you into a venue to see an event. That is all you are guaranteed. It shouldn't be about killing certain players or the manager.
Women would never do that. They are every bit as determined and as fantastic at what they do. Look at our women athletes and tell me they aren't competitive. But they have a different way of doing things and I prefer it.
The FA, in fairness, have done great work in getting more females to both watch and play football, but they can always do more. We've got to keep the game alive and the more people you introduce to it, the stronger the game will get.
I don't care what sex, colour or religion you are, I want you to enjoy football because it is the best game on the planet by some distance. It unites people and makes them feel special and part of something.
I would love every ground to be full and if the FA put their thinking caps on and tap into what has happened in Turkey, there might well be a way of doing that.
Owen is still setting himself goals
Don't tell me that Michael Owen has taken the easy option by staying at Manchester United. Yes, he knows he won't play every game but that doesn't show a lack of ambition. I think it shows a huge amount of ambition because he believes he can still break into their first team.
He didn't sign for United thinking "I want to make myself a fortune and just play the odd game". He wanted to see how good he could be and test himself by playing for one of the best clubs in the world.
He made a choice and it must suit him. I think he signed a new contract because he wanted to take on the challenge of trying to break through and become a regular and win titles and get some more trophies.
He's clearly still got it, as anyone watching that wonderful second goal at Leeds will know. He will go down as the one of the best strikers of this era – his finishing is sublime.
I don't think he'll play for England again because generally speaking there is a sell-by date in international football. We found out how not to do it with Gary Lineker when we were bringing him on in games in the hope that he'd get that 49th England goal and equal Bobby Charlton's record. That wasn't right – Alan Shearer should have been playing by then.
But I don't think Owen would want to play for the national side again. I imagine he is very happy at United and he must be delighted with the way his career has panned out.
And whatever else happens, he will always be the scorer of my favourite England goal: the World Cup in France, 1998, versus Argentina. I think I leapt so high off the settee I smacked my head on the ceiling. Pure genius.
Plymouth's treatment of honourable man came as a shock – even to me
A message to the Plymouth board: instead of sacking Peter Reid, why don't you have a look at yourselves.
The way Peter has been treated is nothing short of a disgrace. He put his own reputation on the line to try and help a club in serious trouble. He could have walked away months ago and saved himself a whole lot of strife but he's not like that.
He stuck at it and did the best job anyone could under almost impossible circumstances. How do they repay him? With the sack.
I feel desperately sorry for the Plymouth fans, who I know from my time in charge there are fantastic. They are the ones being mucked around. But I have no sympathy for the board. The club was at the top end of the Championship when I was there. I didn't like the direction those at the top wanted to go in, so I left.
It was strange because when I was interviewed for the job we spoke about certain things, then as soon as I started, they began singing from a different song-sheet. I told the board not to sell the best players but they did and, blow me, they've managed to waste all the money from that.
It pains me to see the mess they are in, and the way Peter – one of football's most honourable fellas – was treated makes it even more distasteful. I desperately hope the club survives but it will have to be with a different attitude in the boardroom.
Wenger's wages of sin
I notice the chief executive of Arsenal came out in public and said Arsène Wenger would not be sacked. It reminded me of my time at QPR when I reckon I became the only manager in the history of the game to give my board a vote of confidence.
It was when there were a lot of changes in the boardroom and Gianni Paladini came in. I said: "The directors are making a few mistakes but I'll stick with them and I'm sure they'll be all right." I thought it was funny. They didn't.
It is quite right that Arsenal are backing Arsène so strongly. He is a legend and one of the best managers the game has ever seen.
The problem for him is the game is changing. The money is getting bigger and if you don't compete, you will be left behind. That is just fact.
No matter how good Arsenal's manager is, if the club don't pay the same amount of money as some of those top teams, they will not be a top team eventually. That's just the way it goes because players have a short career and they will want money, hence the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Arsène probably doesn't believe all those big wages are right. But even if he did, it would be irrelevant because Arsenal won't pay them, whereas other clubs will, and that's the problem.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gunners fans should remember that Arsène rebuilt that club from virtually nothing with David Dein. Are you telling me now that all of a sudden he should be sacked? Get out of it.
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