A Lion’s Pride

Steve-Lomas1 It’s funny, but there’s a reason why I delayed posting my latest article by a day – I had a feeling that Millwall would get a win over Blackpool last night to make it look like the point I want to make would seem a little silly!

I’ve kept an eye on my first professional club and their terrible start to the season under Steve Lomas. It had gone somewhat unnoticed until that defeat at the weekend against Derby – it was not what was expected at all. Derby, to me, are far from certainties to run away with the division and to be beaten so heavily at home, at the Den really sent alarm bells ringing.

I’ll be honest, and you can look back over what I’ve said in the past – I had reservations over Steve when he took the job as I knew what a tough job he’d taken on. I received a few smart remarks on Twitter when I suggested before Steve was hired that I would be interested in the situation but I know the history of the club.

Millwall fans are proud of their club and rightly so. They will accept poor results, a poor run of form, as long as they can feel the character of the club is being upheld and be seen to be trying to play the game. Kenny did a great job but didn’t end his time at the Den well, maybe with the knowledge he was leaving – one win in the last seven games, and five defeats. Going back further, twelve defeats in the last nineteen league games (though it could be said they were distracted by the Cup run). But Kenny knew the philosophy of the club and the supporters by and large had faith in him.

Steve has been fighting an uphill battle as soon as he walked through the doors, with his West Ham background. The rivalry goes back a long, long way. You can’t expect every manager to have proud and strong links to the history of the club but when they are from a historical rival then you hope that they at least have the pedigree and experience to weather the storm and justify the faith.

I think jury is still out on Steve, even after last night’s result.. that would be one that I put down to the players – a great result, and two fabulous goals from Nicky Bailey and Steve Morison to give us the points, but their collective pride would have been stung by the result on Saturday. You don’t become a bad team overnight and Millwall showed they have quality by beating Premier League teams last season. Maybe Blackpool came to Millwall complacent, thinking they’d get a result easily.

Millwall fans, and Steve, will know as well as anyone that the difficult start of the season cannot just be forgotten about after one good result – Saturday’s game at Charlton has suddenly become a very big game indeed. It’s an even bigger game than the one against Blackpool, with some local pride at stake – it’s just down the road, and they’ll need all hands on deck. A good result on Saturday lunchtime could go a long way to winning over some fans – here’s the but. Patience is something Millwall supporters will give you, as long as they can see steps in the right direction.

Accepting Mediocrity

My latest article for SetantaSports, reproduced below for my website.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 13.22.56It’s rarely been the case that the reaction of an England manager after what should have been seen as a decent result is treated with such derision. Roy Hodgson unwittingly piled on the pressure on himself by insisting that Tuesday night’s performance against the Ukraine was a good one by England.

It wasn’t, it was mediocre. Whenever a new England manager is appointed there is hope that they will attempt to change things around for the better, be bold, take a chance, do something to lift the national team out of the doldrums in which it has laid for far too long. I admit when Roy Hodgson took over I had my reservations, I felt he would simply be a ‘yes man’ for the FA and he would quickly get suckered into the rationale that results matter more than performance.

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Life On The Road

Boston_MaSo, my travels have brought me up to Boston where I’m helping a friend of mine, Tosh Farrell, run his soccer camp.

I’ve been to the area before and have some good friends up here, so it will be nice to meet up with some old faces and chat about times gone by. It’s some years since I’ve been in this part of the world – I’m just north of Boston, not exactly in Boston, on the coastline. It’s beautiful and I can understand why people love it so much up here – I think in recent months and years I’ve grown to appreciate everything like that a lot more.

There is some amazing scenery up here, and everything is so clear… I think if you look hard enough, you can see Ireland! It’s a different way of life and it is so nice – I had a long spell in Cleveland but that is a lot different. Equally nice, but very different.

Life as a player and life as a coach can be very different and not just where the obvious things lie, like on the pitch. In America especially, as a player, you’re always travelling and when you’re a lot younger all these big cities can blend into one. When you’re coaching, you can remain in one environment for a few weeks or months and it gives you the opportunity to explore the area. I honestly think it’s amazing, not just in the scenery but the area itself. The coastlines, the way of life, even the weather – you can be in an area prone to earthquakes one day and one prone to hurricanes the next. It’s incredible and puts everything into perspective.

To think, I’ve managed to do all this through football, the game has given me so much and I feel so blessed and thankful. As you might know, I’ve recently commenced work on my autobiography and my author was with me in the States in the summer. The look on his face as we travelled across the country and the things we saw gave me so much joy and a new found appreciation for what I see everyday but sometimes take for granted. Maybe take for granted is the wrong phrase, but you sometimes get used to it.

I do have to work for a living and coaching in Boston is much different to how it was in Cleveland. On the subject of weather again, Boston has a more British climate than you find elsewhere but the snow can hit hard! With the cold weather in mind as we approach the fall, the coaching is done in indoor facilities. I’m looking forward to the fall to see the wonderful colours, I wonder how it compares with Cleveland. I will make the most of these weeks up in Boston and do what I can to help the development of another cracking set of kids.

I receive a lot of questions asking me about my long term plans and it’s no secret that some kind of position where I can put a four or five year plan into place would be ideal. From what I’ve learned up here, Tosh is absolutely superb – he has a fantastic background in England and runs things the way that I would, with methods I endorse and believe in. That’s not always popular in North America but it is absolutely necessary for the evolution of the game and I think people are finally beginning to see that.

If you want to learn more about Tosh’s Soccer clinics, and if you’re in the Boston area, check out the website that has all the information on.