Outside the Box: Sir Alex is keeping an eye on Billy Elliot's fancy footwork

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The Independent Online

He did not get where he is today by closing his mind to new ideas. So Sir Alex Ferguson was to be found sitting at Manchester United's training centre with his coaching staff watching clips from films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Billy Elliot, Cool Runnings, Jerry Maguire and Apollo 13.

According to John Faulkner, the former Luton Town and Leeds United defender who compiled the sequence in his new career as a sports psychologist, the relevant themes are the value of teamwork and not giving up.

"Sir Alex is a tough guy but has a very open mind," he told retro football magazine Backpass. "There's nothing he won't listen to if he thinks it might help Manchester United."

Faulkner, who is now a visiting fellow at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, lectures to business organisations as well as sports teams and on his visit to Carrington he apparently found the great man sufficiently impressed to supply him with a reference.

There's only two Redbridges

Readers unfamiliar with the complicated history of Essex football may be confused by FA Cup replays in midweek involving victories for both Dagenham & Redbridge and another team called Redbridge. Warning: careful concentration required for this item.

The latter, from the Ryman League Division One North who include Jimmy Greaves' grandson at centre-forward, are the smallest club left in the competition, reaching the second round for the first time by winning their replay away to Oxford City after drawing at home in front of a crowd of 465.

They were known until 2004 as Ford United, a club based around the Dagenham car works who were the product of a 1959 merger between local amateur sides Ford Sports and Briggs Sports. Dean Holdsworth, manager of Aldershot Town, began his management career there in 2007.

Dagenham & Redbridge have an even more convoluted history in which Dagenham, founded only in 1949, are very much the new boys. Redbridge Forest, with whom they merged in 1992, were an amalgam of 19th century clubs Walthamstow Avenue, Leytonstone and Ilford; Avenue – who once drew away to Manchester United in the FA Cup with England cricketers Trevor Bailey and Doug Insole in the team – joined up with the latter pair in 1988.

Bright future for Windass

A middle-aged non-League footballer has been chosen to switch on the Christmas lights in Hull on Wednesday – though not just any old non-Leaguer.

Local hero Dean Windass was a Premier League striker until 18 months ago, when he left his hometown club Hull City. He scored more than 200 goals in his career – including the winner at Wembley that took Hull into the Premier League – proved a useful stand-in goalkeeper and has become a cult figure with his match reports for Sky Sports.

Still playing at 42, he headed his first goal for Scarborough Athletic last weekend in a 5-2 win at Selby Town in front of 326 spectators. Ten times that number are expected to attend on Wednesday provided the weather is better than last year, when the ceremony was snowed off.

Shield clashes with Olympics

Dates for diaries: The Football Association have been told they can stage next season's Community Shield game on Sunday 12 August even though it clashes with the final events of the Olympics at venues including central London for the marathon, Earls Court and Wembley Arena.

That means the Premier League, who regularly complain about having to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, will be able to begin on 18 August, avoiding their latest ever start.

The Football League season will also begin on that day, forsaking a customary weekend in the spotlight without any Premier League games. As in previous years, England will again upset the leading club managers by playing an international a few days before the start of the League programme, as preparation for September's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; www.twitter.com/@stevetongue

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