The Matt Holland Column: Dispute about power and influence, not just money

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Common sense over the threatened players' strike had to prevail, and I for one am glad it did. Hopefully those involved in football can start to concentrate again on the things that really matter – performance and results. And with any luck the cheap shots and point-scoring will cease and the union, players and leagues can try to cohabit amicably.

Common sense over the threatened players' strike had to prevail, and I for one am glad it did. Hopefully those involved in football can start to concentrate again on the things that really matter – performance and results. And with any luck the cheap shots and point-scoring will cease and the union, players and leagues can try to cohabit amicably.

The general feeling at Ipswich during the past week was that a deal was close, but I am confident that if a strike had seemed definite, one or two would have wanted a second ballot. I personally always believed that a negotiated settlement would be found because all the sides had too much to lose.

The important thing now is for the Professional Footballers' Association to use the money wisely, particularly having been so determined to get total control over how the money is spent.

Now, £52.5 million is a lot of cash. However – and this is why the shenanigans dragged on so long – the saga was never solely about money. It was about power and influence. At least all sides seem relatively satisfied now, but it is still a tarnish on the game that such an unedifying squabble was allowed to dominate during an exciting two months of the season. Remember, both England and the Republic of Ireland qualified for the World Cup, Leeds and Liverpool proved that this season will be one of the most keenly contested championships and a number of English clubs have performed well in European competition.

And that brings me neatly to our win on Thursday against the Milan giants of Internazionale. To be completely candid, it was an unexpected result, especially in view of our inability to win a game in the Premier League. But often being the complete underdog acts as a pressure release and you play a lot better.

Before the match our manager, George Burley, asked us to go out and enjoy playing against one of the most famous clubs in the world. The enjoyment factor was so important and we went at them from the very start. I think we won the first three 50-50 tackles and actually revelled in our underdog status. "You've got nothing to lose because no one expects anything," were Burley's words to us and we played like that. In gambling terms it was a free roll of the dice.

It has been an extraordinary week for me. From the manic atmosphere of Tehran, to a home loss against Bolton, a European win against Inter and commentator Barry Davies plugging my book about last season on BBC TV. Goodness me, free advertising on the Beeb.

No wonder I had a ricked neck when I woke up Thursday morning; I haven't known which way to turn. In fact, at one stage I thought I would not be able to play because I was walking around my home like a Dalek. Whenever somebody spoke to me I had to turn my whole body to look at them. The physio worked on the muscles to try to loosen them and it actually improved a lot during the match, but afterwards driving home was ridiculous. My head was pointing at the corner of the side window and I was watching the road in front through the corner of my eye. Still, it was more than worth it, and whatever happens in the return leg, I will always be able to say that I was part of a club team that beat Inter .

Were you impressed by their captain and No 4, the Argentine Javier Zanetti? I was. I thought he was an exceptional right-back and a perfect example of all that is good about Italian football. His touch was exquisite, his composure on the ball, whether free or being challenged, was superb and he stretched us down the left by pushing up into attack and linking with the other players. A truly class act and a pleasure to play against. The San Siro will be a thrilling experience in the return and again we will have nothing to lose. Maybe, just maybe, we will shock them.

There is plenty of work to do before then, of course, and our main priority is still to avoid relegation. We have strengthened our squad this week in two ways and I am confident that we will soon turn our Premiership season around. Marcus Bent has been signed and I think that he will fit in well. Whenever I have played against him he has been strong but, importantly, surprisingly mobile for a big bloke. With both Finidi George and Marcus Stewart out with broken jaws, we desperately needed to sign a striker and I think we have got a good one.

Also joining us as a coach is Bryan Hamilton. He knows the ethos of the club because he is a former Town player and will bring new ideas and impetus to the training ground. The thing that has pleased me most at the club (apart from beating Inter, that is), is the "Let's roll up our sleeves and get working" mentality.

We have suffered bad luck with injuries in a couple of games and it would be very easy to start using misfortune as an excuse, but no one is. In fact, the reverse is happening and we are seeing it as a challenge. Last season we were very lucky with injuries and this season we are not. It is up to those of us who are fit to start winning games, and Middlesbrough today is a perfect time to start.

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