New York, New York, New York…

New York City Man CityI read with bemusement, the story that Manchester City had announced a partnership with New York Yankees with the intention of creating an all new franchise, a “New York City Football Club”, to compete in the MLS. I’ve been involved in the North American game for quite some time and I must say I’m very surprised that this decision has been taken but, then again, taking into account that City have the financial backing to do whatever they want, I wasn’t surprised that it has probably been encouraged by people in power in the MLS. Continue reading

Goodbye, Brian

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 08.48.40“Then there’s Brian Greenhoff, he’s got loads of skill, and he really needs it to play with Gordon Hill”…

I was absolutely, totally floored to hear the news about my good friend Brian Greenhoff passing away yesterday. Brian was one of the first people to welcome me when I arrived in Manchester – well, he and Jim Holton were the first two players to welcome me. And both have been taken away too soon. I can’t even put into words how devastated I am about the news, but I wanted to write something in recognition.

I have nothing but kind words to say about my old friend – he was such a generous, kind person who always had time for you. I was honoured to be approached to write an acknowledgement for his autobiography last year, but that was Brian – there were people queuing up to say nice words for him, in a game where you will have hundreds of team-mates in your career, he was one who “crossed a line” and became a friend.

We mustn’t dwell but we must pay due respect and celebrate his achievements. One of the most notable things about the Manchester United team was how every player played his part, but with Brian, he left a legacy that stands today. He was one of the first “attacking defenders” if that’s the right term for it, one of my best memories in fact was of the 1976 FA Cup semi final. We were winning 2-0 and right in the last minute he went bombing on a run up the entire pitch to try and score. He must have been running on pure adrenaline, and as he narrowly missed, I can remember him saying to me with his hands on his hand in his broad Yorkshire accent, “I’m fucking knackered! It’s a long way, that!”. Brian had already played his part, starting the move with a typically brilliant forward pass for the first goal. And, of course, he went on to be man of the match for Manchester United in the FA Cup Final in 77. How many people can say that?

He was one of those players who were loved by all of his team-mates. “Greeno”, the others would call him, though I’d always call him by his first name. If anyone needed an example of what Manchester United meant to him you only have to look at the images of after the 1976 FA Cup Final, where he was pictured in tears at the final whistle. He’d never have left – nor would I for that matter – but that was decided for him by another man. He played for England 18 times and this was in a time when every single cap had to be earned.

We lost touch over a few years but managed to reconnect recently and I’ll always be thankful for that. For reasons best left for another day, I don’t have my FA Cup winners medal anymore. I don’t think I’ve seen it since the day we won the trophy. A few weeks ago, Brian took the time to get some pictures of his sent over to me and I was so thankful and grateful – we were looking forward to meeting up in the summer, and I told him as I always did that if he ever wanted an holiday in the States he always had a place to stay.

Some careers are long and fulfilled, others remain like an open book, with stories of what might have been. Manchester United’s history is full of both, and Brian’s career could fit into both. His career at the club ended too soon, so you can wonder how good he could have been, or what he could have achieved, but for what he did accomplish, he and his family were rightly very proud. I know he was so proud of his sons and grandsons and he had a very strong marriage with his wife Maureen, which tells you everything you need to know about the kind of character Brian was. Loyal, dependable, honest and as good a friend as you could hope for.

Goodbye, my friend, I will miss you.

What’s In A Name?

World-Club-Cup-005As the Premier League season ended, it was only the fourth and final Champions League spot being contested, and that was decided by Arsenal’s comfortable win over Newcastle. My thoughts on the weeks Premier League action will feature in my column for Setanta Sports so I wanted to share my thoughts on the future of the movement of clubs competing on an international stage. Continue reading

One on One Soccer Camps in June/July

slide-2As you’ll be aware if you’ve read my website often, I’m hugely involved with the development of younger players in North America, running a series of camps throughout the year specialising in different age groups and all areas of the game.

As a player I loved nothing more than putting the ball in the net; to me, scoring is the most important part of the sport as that’s what wins you games! At One on One Soccer this summer we’re running a number of finishing schools in (enter town names here) and if you have a team or individuals that you feel might benefit from the experience then please have a look at how to get involved here.

One on One Soccer camps present the perfect opportunity for both male and female players to practice in an environment that will help them reach a higher standard. The program will introduce elements of the game that would be expected of them in more intensive programs but will not feature the same pressure – instead, giving youngsters the unique opportunity to test themselves in a competitive environment and benefit from some of the most insightful coaching available in North America.

The camps can be used as a school for perfecting the technique of finishing, or benefitting from the knowledge and experience of some of the most knowledgable names in the game to learn new ideas and tricks. As someone who has been involved in youth development in North America Soccer for over twenty years, I have a passion to ensure that a culture of excellence is established over time at grass roots level and firmly believe in One on One Soccer as the perfect camp for individuals and teams to really develop their game in a professional environment.

We treat the youngsters as professionals, constantly involving them in dialogue and communication in order to increase their confidence and ability to express their personality – this is not only beneficial for teams building a community spirit but also helps individuals in feeling comfortable and confident in expressing themselves both in and out of the game.

These camps take place at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA from June 23-26th and Colorado College at Colorado Springs, CO from June 30-July 3rd.

To download the registration form and choose your camp for this summer CLICK HERE , or click here for more details and more information about the other camps that One on One Soccer run here.

My Awards for Man Utd For The Season 2012/13

The Manchester United teamWhen my top flight career ended in England I decided to move to the North American game, and Canada, where I spent some time with Montreal Manic.

My managerial career began in Canada too, with a spell at the short lived franchise Nova Scotia Clippers – I have such an affinity with the country, and know first hand just how passionate supporters are about the beautiful game. To demonstrate just how connected I still am with the sport up in Canada, just last month I was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame.

It’s therefore an honour and a privilege to be able to connect with the superb Manchester United fans of Canada through this webpage and I was delighted when I was asked to share my “awards” for this past season – do you agree with them? Continue reading

Millwall And The Final Day

Kenny-Jackett-006Before the news about Sir Alex Ferguson, I’d prepared an article about Millwall and Kenny Jackett. Kenny resigned after a good spell in charge of the club, about six years, and in my eyes did a great job. I’ll give my full thoughts on the news about Sir Alex if and when an announcement is made about his future, but I wanted to make sure that these thoughts were aired! Continue reading

Efficiency And Evolution

Bayern Munich celebrateWhat a couple of weeks in the Champions League! Nobody was exactly writing the Germans off when the semi-final draw was made but it cannot be denied that the results – particularly those in the first leg – came as a shock to most. Perhaps not the fact that Munich won the first leg, but the scale of the victory, and afterwards that stunning effort by Borussia Dortmund against Real Madrid. Continue reading