Smudger Smith: It’s just no fun when you can’t get your kicks

The Journeyman Pro

In a professional career spanning almost two decades, Simon "Smudger" Smith has played for over 67 clubs and has reinvented himself time and again, from poacher to goalkeeper.

The Capital One Cup final was a real fairy tale, but one of the original Grimms’ ones where horrible things happen to the children at the end, as plucky underdogs Bradford were hammered 5-0. The main talking point was Nathan Dyer having a strop because he wasn’t allowed to take a penalty and as a result didn’t get his hat-trick. Apparently, he was just calming down when he was told Swansea City’s name was going to be engraved on the cup and not his.

I can sympathise, though – I recall a cup final where I placed the ball only to be told that I wasn’t going to be the taker. It’s embarrassing as an adult keeper to not take the goal-kicks but the boys were fed up of me failing to clear the penalty area.

Rafa Benitez has, like me watching Inception, lost the plot. Unlike me watching Inception, he’s going to stay to the end and be there until May. It was quite shrewd of Rafa to be honest with the fans. They must feel silly to have forgotten about the trophies he’s won but that reminder will have put their minds at ease. I’m sure they’ll take his request on board and treat him well today.

It is hard to be an “interim” manager. I remember Dean Holdsworth made me an “interim” godfather for his first-born while he looked for a longer-term candidate. I can tell you the job is that much harder when there’s so much booing.

Things are going much better for Gareth Bale. But the mercurial Welshman has a long way to go to catch his compatriot Ryan Giggs, likely to be making his 1,000th competitive appearance at the weekend. It’s an incredible achievement and one we won’t have to tell our grandchildren about – Ryan will probably still be playing.

Follow me on @smudgersmithpro