TRAIN­ING GROUND RE­FIT KEY FOR LEE

CON­SIS­TENCY IS KEY FOR PEP

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jamie Holt

BLACK­POOL’S train­ing ground, once de­scribed as a “hell­hole” by Ian Holloway, is set to un­dergo a long over­due up­grade as boss Lee Clark looks to the fu­ture.

The Tan­ger­ines were rel­e­gated on Mon­day, but the writ­ing has been on the wall for Black­pool for some time hav­ing been glued to the foot of the ta­ble since Oc­to­ber.

Clark be­lieves de­mol­ish­ing the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Squires Gate for new, al­beit tem­po­rary, build­ings is a vi­tal step in try­ing to bounce back.

“It’s cru­cial to us,” said the ex-Birm­ing­ham boss. “We are only at the sta­dium once ev­ery two weeks. We spend all our time at the train­ing ground and if you want to im­prove as a team and a club, you can only do it there.

“We will have a good gym down there and other things. It’s so vi­tal to what we want to do here. If you look at all the suc­cess­ful teams around, their work is done on the train­ing ground.”

SEDAN. Noisy-le-Sec. L’En­tente SSG. Creteil. Kor­trijk. Charleroi. Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers. Not­ting­ham For­est. Crys­tal Palace. Wat­ford. That’s one club for ev­ery year of Ad­lene Gue­dioura’s pro­fes­sional ca­reer. When it comes to get­ting around, the 29-year-old Al­ge­rian makes Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin look un­ad­ven­tur­ous.

Not since Steve Clar­idge hung up his boots has one man kept the FA reg­is­tra­tions depart­ment so busy.

It’s a CV that con­jures images of a lower-league slog­ger signed to make up the num­bers then shunted on when some­one bet­ter comes along. In­deed, sup­port­ers of Crys­tal Palace yet to see the best of their £2.5m sign­ing will tell you that’s ex­actly what he is.

Yet to watch Gue­dioura play is to see a man who should be in­dis­pens­able. Skil­ful, con­fi­dent, en­er­getic and ex­cit­ing; this is a guy whose thun­der­bolt strikes saw him branded ‘The Rocket Fac­tory’ at Wolves.

Con­sis­tency

For­est fans pre­ferred the nick­name ‘Pep’, and not just be­cause his sur­name sounds a bit like Guardi­ola. Wat­ford sup­port­ers, mean­while, will tell you that Gue­dioura’s per­for­mances since re­join­ing on loan from Palace in Fe­bru­ary have breathed fresh life into their Cham­pi­onship ti­tle tilt.

So why is the geezer living out of a suit­case? Partly, it’s sim­ple bad luck. A fix­ture in Mick McCarthy’s Wolves team when he broke his leg in Septem­ber 2010, Gue­dioura spent six months on the treat­ment ta­ble and re­turned to find his place had been filled. At Palace, he was signed by a manager who walked out two months later.

Then there’s the prob­lem of con­sis­tency. On his best days, Gue­dioura is un­stop­pable, a mid­field lynch­pin who tack­les like a de­mon, runs like a grey­hound and sprays balls around like Glenn Hod­dle with a hosepipe.

On his worst – and I’ve seen plenty of them – he looks like a self­ish show­pony, ir­ri­tat­ing fans and team-mates alike with over­am­bi­tious shots and mis­guided tricks.

That frus­trat­ing du­al­ity was ap­par­ent in his treat­ment by new Ea­gles boss Alan Pardew, who hailed Gue­dioura a match-win­ning “mav­er­ick” then sent him pack­ing to Wat­ford a month later.

The fi­nal prob­lem is one of tem­per­a­ment. Gue­dioura once re­sponded to For­est fans’ praise on twit­ter by writ­ing ‘Your love is my drug’. He is a player driven by emo­tion, a clas­sic hot­head whose con­fi­dence can stray into ar­ro­gance.

When you need a rab­ble rouser, that’s great. When your skip­per is hand­ing him a dress­ing down, it’s more of a prob­lem.

Which is ex­actly what hap­pened at half-time dur­ing For­est’s de­feat to Wi­gan in 2013, re­sult­ing in a spec­tac­u­lar bust-up be­tween Gue­dioura and a se­nior player. He was in­stantly subbed.

Man­agers love to see play­ers who care, but not when it rup­tures a dress­ing room. For then-gaffer Billy Davies, it was a step too far and the start of the end for the French-born star’s City Ground ca­reer.

What’s so an­noy­ing is that Gue­dioura is a match-win­ner. When the ten-man Hor­nets went 2-1 down at Derby last week, the Al­ge­rian’s head should have dropped. He should have played the ill-tem­pered mav­er­ick.

In­stead, he ran the game, chas­ing and press­ing with in­tel­li­gence, fill­ing in gaps, keep­ing pos­ses­sion and mak­ing tack­les. Then there was the deft first-time ball to tee-up Odion Ighalo’s lev­eller, a pass Zine­dine Zi­dane would have played in his pomp.

That 90 min­utes showed how good he can be. But we’ve all seen him have a good 90 min­utes. Only when he does it for a whole sea­son will he fi­nally be able stick that suit­case in the loft and let it gather dust.

WHEN Malky Mackay was sacked by Cardiff in De­cem­ber 2013, his stock could not

have been higher. Suc­cess at Wat­ford, pro­mo­tion mar­tyr­dom at Car diff,

at the hands of Vin­cent first in the queue Tan. He was

for any job. Now, af­ter the pub-li­cised­textscan­da­landwell-

his dis­missal by Wi­gan, he widely seen as dam­aged is

goods.Who on earth would even of­fer him an in­ter­view?

Wi­gan ob­vi­ously be­lieved bag­gage that Mackay’s ex­cess

would be off­set – and ul­ti­mately – through suc­cess over­looked

on the pitch. With the Lat­ics bet­ter off than when no earli-er,no­top­clubhe took over 138 days

with an im­age to pro­tect take a sim­i­lar will

gam­ble. For Mackay, a spell over­seas now looks the only

way to res­ur­rect a once stel­lar ca­reer.

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