Tuesday 31 August 21
The Sun on Sunday had Gareth Southgate dressed up with a bow tie with a pistol besides his head with headlines: License To Thrill followed by: Gareth Southgate has told his England stars there are on tactical straitjackets stopping attacking freedom on the road to Qatar 2022.
More like License To Chill....
Concerns have been raised over Southgate’s set-up restricting flair players.
SunSport has learnt senior members approached him with worries after the goalless draw against Scotland at Euro 2020.
But the England boss insists his creative players have license to play ahead of Thursday’s trip to Hungary in World Cup qualifying.
Hungary: Now there’s a story under Don Revie?
This was the trip where Don Revie set me and Jimmy Greenhoff up as two overage players and the story is just another where there is an ulterior motive against certain players as his selection was clearly one of finally disposing of the two of us.
Revie, having sold Jimmy to Birmingham from Leeds United was now under pressure to choose him for the full England team such was both of our form an ongoing talking point, as l had played against the Germans, but Jimmy still uncapped – an injustice alone!
Before the match Revie said: “Let’s get a god result and on the flight home we have steaks and wine laid on,” but after a poor display, where the game was somewhat erratic such were we all played out of position, he changed his mind saying: “No steaks and wine”…
Enter John Gidman the very good full-back who joined me on the flight to a bottle of duty free Jim Bean, that famous old Kentucky Whiskey and thereafter John introduced me as, “The man who got me out of the England team.”
It was quite a flight home….
The day before the match Jimmy and l skipped lunch which caused mayhem with Revie as our reasoning of “We don’t eat lunch” being somewhat an act of treason.
We were in our room when Revie had his spy, Les Cocker – thankfully no relation to Joe – telephoned us with: “The Don is raging, so you better get down here and face the music.”
There was no music but plenty of drums as The Don stormed into us coming out of the elevator as if we’d committed a serious crime.
This was merely a case telling us that we’d never see an England shirt once landing back in Manchester.
Jimmy already accepted that and it only reminded me that l should have retired from international football after my display against the Keizer at Wembley, something l would have done had l not been so extraordinarily excited by not only beating the enemy but proving the manager wrong, my relief and delight took over.
This was a case of had it been today I would have had an advisor (or agent) who would have questioned my future having known how my selection came about?
My latest issue with the Football Association includes all of this where the treatment given to not only me but my team-mates Jimmy Greenhoff and Peter Osgood being simply appalling.
The ‘suits’ at both international and club level offered you absolutely no help ans it is only with hindsight and looking at youngsters today I realize that I needed help both mentally, physically and legally.
My manager Tony Waddington was, in fairness to him, in a Catch-22 situation as although he wanted me to play my best football for Stoke City he also wanted recognition for my efforts at international level, as I have told you before the advice Bobby Moore gave to me and Tony realized the importance of having internationals in the club by signing three of the 1966 World Cup winning squad in Gordon Banks, George Eastham and Geoff Hurst the man who became my Landlord in 1974 and I cant thank Dame Judith enough for making me feel like one of the family.
This became one of the biggest shocks for me as I walked across the road from the train station to the hotel, where I thought my new manager was booking me into until I found a property, but after wondering whose bright yellow Mercedes it was sitting outside I found out in a few minutes it belonged to the only man to ever score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
I had to laugh on one evening out I asked him what went through his mind for that fourth goal?
He explained that he smashed it so hard that had it missed, by the time the ball had got back into play the game would have been over.
I laughed because had that been me it would no doubt have ended up down Wembley Way – although part of my laughter was knowing I couldn’t kick the ball that far!
So there I was Alan Hurst for the first few months until I found a home in the Staffordshire countryside in the beautiful setting of Barlaston.
Barlaston was famous for two things, one/being just down the road from Wedgwood and two/was the train station where the Stoke City team stepped off the Manchester bound train to begin their victory parade of the 1972 League Cup – and how ironic that I should move there as I was obviously part of the Chelsea team they overcome at Wembley in the March of that year.
The other irony was that it was Gordon Banks penalty save against Geoff Hurst that took Stoke City through to that final, when Gordon admits that was a better save than the one in Mexico against Pele.
When I talk of Waddington and while writing The Waddington Years this all came out and I realized what a mind the manager had, his insight to the game was frightening.
If a chess player he’d be many moves ahead and his asking for an Audience with the Pope and getting his wish can be said was possibly the catalyst of Stoke City winning their only ever real big trophy, be it a League Cup.
The year before he signed me, Stoke City were having a real rough time of things – with losing the great George Eastham – and after a meeting with his friend and chairman Albert Henshall, they couldn’t find a solution, so Tony said, “Maybe a G&T in the boardroom might help?,” and as he led Henshall up those stairs Albert said, “I think I have it?” and Tony replied, “We cant go to the Vatican every time we have a problem.”
Wise words from a wise old owl….as I was soon to find out, thankfully!
Unfortunately, unlike both Geoff and Gordon I I had waited six long years, including a three year ban along the way, only to see Revie take over from Ramsey.
This License To Chill was light years away?
Southgate said: “l don’t think we’ve ever had an environment where players aren’t free to express themselves.”
I really couldn’t copy the rest of his ridiculous account of what goes on in his squad and he finishes with: “There were moments in the summer when Jack came on, Raheen moved to the right and scored goals, so that’s a possibility.”
This was what he said after saying Grealish has to wait to flourish, even though his Manchester City team mate could switch to the right to accommodate him.
Strange how Pepe Guardiola sees it so very differently, or is it?
Some license to thrill….
Thrills were so very few and far between in the recent Euros but it seems that the England manager was the only one not to see it?
There are photographs of Cristiano Ronaldo all over the media and he looks no older than when he left which is such a credit to the way he’s looked after himself.
He won the Golden Boot in the Euros without reaching the final, which tells the story of how Southgate messed up Harry Kane’s chances of both that honour and his move to Manchester City.
Yet still the England manager is getting plaudits over his horrendous decisions when England were in such a fantastic position after being in front against a wobbling Italian team after three minutes.
The press gang of the seventies would have tore him to shreds – and deservedly so!
Can you imagine what he will do in the heat of Qatar?
Isn’t it great to see Ronaldo return which will thrill Sir Alex more than anyone and you can be certain, after his successful euros campaign, let down by a couple of big named players, he will now see this as his greatest challenge of all time.
We saw his fantastic ability in the Euros and now if he can pull this one off for Manchester United he’ll have to become the world’s greatest player – but that will only happen if United topple neighbours City for the Premier League title?
As for the likes of Fernandes, a huge disappointment alongside him in the Euros, and Pogba it will be interesting to see if these three can will pull off The Impossible Dream?
This really will set alight the Theatre of Dreams with fans queuing from all ends of the planet to get a flight to Manchester.
What a coup and only Ferguson could pull off such an incredible move – it will go alongside Waddington bringing Matthews back to Stoke City, only Sir Stan was nearing his fiftieth birthday and still won the Footballer of the Year Award.
Had that been me I’d have given it to Waddington and insisted that the statue outside North Staffs Hotel of Josiah Wedgwood be replaced by the man himself.
In a nutshell the place hasn’t been the same since his death the football has gone downhill and the bar takings in most establishments from the Potters Club to The Crewe Arms via the Lawton Arms.