The former Peterborough boss is this week’s guest columnist
YOU are a professional football manager. You have been in a dugout for 860odd games across 20 seasons. Your win record is just short of 50 per cent, your aggregate goals record is more than 200 better than the new England manager. You have won promotions, cups and play-offs. You have earned serious cup run revenues and developed or sold players worth millions to your clubs.
But you are currently unemployed. So, here is your question; what do you do on a Saturday afternoon?
Bizarrely, in the main I have been out on the golf course. Or running on the treadmill in the gym while watching Gillette Soccer Saturday!
There is something really uncomfortable about being an out-of-work manager, itching to get back into the job of winning games and sitting in a stand watching another manager’s team – especially if he might be under a bit of momentary pressure.
So, I do my very best, in the main, to avoid turning up at games.
That said, I received invitations from friends to watch both Chelsea v Liverpool and Wycombe v Stevenage last weekend.
I watched both games and it was great to taste so much live football action inside 24 hours.
You might expect that I would report a stark contrast between the two levels. But I have to say, the contrast is nothing like it would have been in days of old.
For a start, the quality of playing surface at both of the grounds was exceptional.
That would never have been the case in years gone by. Then there is the ‘brand’ of football. In both games, there was an overwhelming emphasis on passing the football shorter, rather than the longerball game that lower league football might have once exhibited.
And then there are the general facilities. Both offered a good standard of organisation, comfort and hospitality.
So why is it, then, that Leagues One and Two were poorly represented in the last 32 of the EFL Cup and have no representation in the last 16?
It seems that the top clubs are taking that piece of silverware a little more seriously this season.
More front-line players are being used. Fewer risks with results are being taken. There are a lot of top managers under pressure to deliver silverware and it seems as though they want to give themselves as many chances as possible.
That can only be a huge positive, in my eyes. There was a danger of the League Cup meaning nothing, or at best a lot less than before. With cups being such an important source of income in fuelling better grounds, coaching and facilities for lower-league clubs, this resurgent attitude provides encouragement that the improvements at lower levels can be sustainable.
For the record, Liverpool were excellent. They played with a purpose and an energy that sounded out a very clear message. Jurgen Klopp has made a difference there, for sure. They are a very dangerous opponent again now.
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