Neville Southall was never afraid to speak his mind as a player and his column for the Paddy Power Blog is no different. This week he looks at Fellaini’s departure, the Special One’s magic and a couple of serious flirtations with joining Chelsea.
Good riddance to Marouane Fellaini. I wish him well at Manchester United, but I’m glad he’s gone. The fans won’t miss him much, especially with the money the club got for him. He didn’t do himself any favours with some of his behaviour and comments last season. We’ve now got a happy, settled squad and we held on to Leighton Baines, so we’re in good shape.
Fellaini will do well at Manchester United, but his discipline is an issue. He got a lot of bookings at Everton – admittedly a few of them were unfair – but in big European games for United, you’d be worried about how referees will handle him based on his reputation.
The jury is out on United at the moment. The transfer window was a dreadful start to David Moyes’ time with the club. They needed three or four players. Not getting them raised some serious questions about Moyes’ ability to attract top players to the club. For a club of their stature who are perennial challengers for the Premier League and Champions League, that is a massive issue.
Roberto Martinez did well in the transfer window. Gareth Barry isn’t spectacular, but he’ll work hard, sit in front of the defence and get the ball moving. James McCarthy has a lot of potential and Lukaku and Kone could end up scoring 10 or 15 league goals each this season, which would be brilliant for the team.
The squad he’s got is good. They keep the ball for fun, but the problem is they’re not moving the ball quickly enough. By the time we’re looking to play in the strikers, the opposition has had enough time to reorganise and cut out the attack. It’ll need to improve this weekend against Chelsea because they’re exactly the type of team set up to deal with that.
It coulda been Blue-tiful
I like Chelsea, always have done. They’re a fantastic club. The fans were brilliant to me. The only thing I didn’t like was the stands were a little bit far away from the pitch at the time. I loved having the fans right on top of me. As a fixture, I always had good feelings about Chelsea, even if Kerry Dixon put more goals past me than anybody except Ian Rush.
The best I ever felt before a game ever was against Chelsea back in 1985. I was on top of the world – I had a great warm-up – made ridiculous saves, stopped everything, was pinging my kick-outs, confidence was high, nothing could stop me. Ended up getting sent off. Got booked in the first half when David Speedie dived over my arm and then I decided to catch the ball when I was a couple of yards outside my box. Cost me a week’s wages. After that, I tried to make sure I never felt too ‘good’ before a game, more like I was trying to build to a peak during the match.
I actually turned down a move to Chelsea a couple of times. Ian Porterfield was managing them first the time and he came on our team bus. He was chatting away and then he turned to me and said ‘why don’t you come and sign for us? I’ll sign you’. As I was about to answer, I looked over his shoulder and saw our chairman standing beside him so I just cracked a joke.
A few years later, Ruud Gullit tried to get me. He said I could train a couple of times a week and he’d get me a flat in London. Joe Royle was Everton gaffer at the time and he told me I was second choice, but he wouldn’t let me go until he found a replacement, which he never did. I would have quite liked the move.
Mour’ power to him
I’m a Jose Mourinho fan. People like to call him controversial, but to me he’s not controversial because he backs up what he says. Wherever he goes, he talks the talk, but he always wins something. He says what he thinks and in the bland world of football clichés, he’s honest. British people generally aren’t good with being open about how they feel, so presumably that’s why so many people didn’t like him. He’s the best in the world at the moment.
He’s worked hard as a coach despite not having played at a high level and I respect that. If he came into the Everton dressing room years ago he would definitely have had his doubters. But if you can get your ideas across and they make sense, every player will be prepared to listen, even if you don’t have any experience of playing top quality football.
Players are funny. It’s not quite about first impressions, but you do need to make an impression early on. We had Mike Walker at Everton. He was a lovely fella, but he couldn’t manage eating his dinner. He just wasn’t for us – it was the wrong time, the wrong place, the wrong city for him. It was a bad appointment. He hadn’t managed in a big city before and he hadn’t managed the standard of player we had.
His training was boring and he blamed everything on the players not being fit. That’s fine for a game or two maybe, but when you’re saying that 10 weeks later, that’s your own fault. I remember we got beaten 4-0 at Manchester City at the start of the 94/95 season, he came into the dressing room, gave out about the squad not being fit enough and Dave Watson stood up and said:
look, you f*cking idiot. It’s not about fitness, if you don’t sign four or five players, we’re f*cked
Mike wasn’t prepared to listen and that’s when you lose the dressing room.
Mourinho lost the dressing room at Real Madrid, but I’ve no doubt he’ll be a success second time around at Chelsea. Roberto Martinez has made a decent start for us, but I worry for us this weekend.
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