Platt busy planning for the future

LIFE AT THE TOP: England's multi-millionaire former captain outlines his manifesto for management, both at home and abroad. Glenn Moore reports
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Some of England's players forsook the Glenn Hoddle regime of isotonic drinks and high-energy diet for a glass of wine and canapes last night. There were no complaints from Hoddle, however, just the acknowledgement of an opportunity to draw strength for the future from the past.

It is not as if there was any danger of the players getting out of hand - they were at a Downing Street reception for the heroes of Euro 96. The timing could not have been better, for England or John Major. For the footballers the evening was an apposite reminder of the summer's success as they prepare for the first of their home World Cup matches against Poland on Wednesday. For the Conservative Party leader it was a chance to bask in reflected glory and counter Labour's own attempt to milk football's new popularity.

That had come in the afternoon, when Tony Blair posed for photographs with Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United manager was one of the speakers at an FA-sponsored fringe meeting at the Labour party conference. The meeting was hosted by David Davies, the FA's Director of Public Affairs, who then rushed to London for the evening function. Even for a former BBC political correspondent this was parliamentary networking on the grand scale - there could be no better demonstration of football's current high profile.

Some of that is down to Euro 96 and that part will fade if Hoddle does not maintain Venables' success. Unlike his predecessor, Hoddle was not invited to Downing Street - the evening was strictly for the players and management involved in Euro 96. Instead he stayed in the team hotel, continuing his series of one-to-one chats with his players.

Earlier he had supervised an almost full training session. Of the 23 players he picked last week only Robbie Fowler and Dominic Matteo did not train, and they sat and watched as they waited, in hope, for their leg injuries to ease.

One player following the session with great interest was David Platt. The Arsenal midfielder recently said he intends to move into management and, having missed the trip to Moldova with injury, had not worked with Hoddle before. His pursuit of knowledge has been greatly helped recently, such has been the turnover at Highbury. Hoddle is the fifth coach he has played under this season.

"It has been quite an `exciting' time," he agreed after training, adding: "The good thing now is that we can progress. Now Arsene Wenger can find out what he has at his disposal and strengthen the side.

"He's obviously got some Continental ideas but I am sure he will look to open players' minds first with some small changes so they accept the radical ones more easily later.

"Glenn Hoddle can do the same. It is important to learn off people, especially if you want to stay in the game. You don't want to take everything Wenger says and use it, you take out what you want and use it. At Sampdoria I thought [Sven-Goran] Eriksson was superb but I would not do everything he did.

"For a start it is very difficult to train in England like they do on the Continent. There are no free weeks. People talk about training twice a day - when are you going to do it? We have just played seven games in 20 days, there is no space to train twice a day.

"In Italy, where they play from Sunday to Sunday, they can use that week to train towards the game. They say `we will do that Monday, that Tuesday', etc. But in England you do not know how hard the game will be in midweek. It might be a really hard game and you will think, `I can't do that on Thursday now, they need rest'.

"English players are becoming more open to ideas. European players coming in has helped, people see the way they train and talk about the game. European managers will help further, people will learn from them and be influenced when they go into management."

For now Platt is making the most of playing. "I'm playing the best football I have since I came back. I've had no problems with the knee since March. I still have playing ambitions - I came back to England to win things."

Will it happen with Arsenal this year? "We deserve a lot of credit for keeping it going. A lot of people thought it would fall down while we waited for the new manager. All the talk about us being in crisis made us more resilient. We are in a good position but other teams are better equipped for the championship than we are."