July 1 2001
Alan Smith may not be the best manager in the world, but you can always count on him to give the press a good quote after the game.
If not, he will go on about the team lacking mental toughness. It was something picked up by Richard Hobson of the Times recently, who said: "Smith had banned his players from giving interviews.
"But he is so eminently quotable himself that the need rarely arises to take notebooks and microphones elsewhere."
Duleep Allirajah, a columnist for Spiked-online.com noticed this too. He said: "Smith was widely applauded for taking a stand against the greed and power of the modern footballer, but his motivational strategy was becoming increasingly bizarre.
"Entertaining, yes, but are fairytales really the best way to motivate professional footballers?
"Smith's colourful soundbites may have been great copy, but they concealed pretty poor man-management."
Here's a selection of bizarre comments and excuses from everyone's favourite bald-headed manager last season.
"We have a very young team, many of them have to be in bed by 9pm and considering all the circumstances there were some encouraging signs.
"But one thing I have also learned is that loyalty doesn't always pay and I can guarantee I will be ruthless when it is necessary."
"Something I won't be doing is criticising the players this time around. I have a very young squad and criticism can damage them. I want to develop the talent at this club not hamper it." (He later publicly criticised the team big style after the Grimsby game).
"Hopefully this win will instil some confidence in the younger players and until my nice boys turn into not so nice boys then they won't get the edge they need."
Sheff Utd (h)
"Sheffield United were no idiots and sat back on their lead. Their goal was against the run of play and Stuart Taylor had nothing to do in goal. In fact, my mum could have played there.
"There were too many people - the whole 11 in fact - who for whatever reason were doing their own thing. At least I am paid to watch it unlike the fans who came here. I am sure they will go home absolutely disgusted.
"Even if Tom Finney had played at his age he would have had a good game against us. But you have to five Preston credit. They played really well."
The famous rant: "I think the players really need to look at themselves. I had all 16 of them in the dressing room for one-and-a-half hours and only four of them had anything to say and two of them are on loan, that says it all.
"Someone said that they were giving their all but if that is their best I'd hate to see what their worst is. Instead of worrying what car they're driving they need to concentrate on the game. We were beaten by good honest professional players.
"I took them to an Italian restaurant last Thursday, paid for it myself and it was quite nice. They didn't like the lasagne, though, they wanted spaghetti bolognese!
"If these attitudes don't change, it will be anarchy and you'll have the lunatics running the asylum.
"I feel like Michael Caine in Zulu. A pistol in my hand, 16,000 coming over the hill trying to claim my head.
"I can't shoot all of them so I might as well shoot the three fellas nearest me who are causing all of the problems.
"I think our players live in cloud cuckoo land. In training my best two are my coaches Glenn Cockerill and Ray Houghton. The bottom line is 'have we got any balls?' and the answer is 'no we haven't'." (Cockerill was later "sacked" by Smith the day after the Fulham game).
"I have tried to turn things round by giving my players their belief back. Don't be fooled because I wear a Saville Row suit and drink red wine."
"It's a hard place to come for a southern team. You can dress well and have all the nice watches in the world but that won't buy us a result at Grimsby.
(Holding boxing gloves) "I made the players spar with these gloves for the last few days. I did it because I knew our match against Watford would be a fight."
"When you come back into the job, you want to do everything right, you want to be articulate and you don't want to start criticising referees. Then you start becoming as big a lunatic as everybody else."
"Being manager of this club is like wheeling a trolley round Sainsbury's. You want it to go one way, the trolley wants to go the other."
"The lack of communication is appalling. We've got foreign lads who speak little English and English players who barely speak English. (Smith signed these foreign players). We really need to get over this. We have to show strength of character and show that we can get the points."
"We've got to eradicate that for our next game. We need people out there like Colin Hendry who goes out and does his job with no mistakes made." (Like Andy Linighan, Neil Ruddock and Jamie Pollock, who were forced out by Smith).
Day before Tranmere (a)
"Really, I don't know what else I can do. I'm really trying to rack my brains and think what I've done wrong. I'd call it a day if I thought I had made mistakes. (think again Smithy)
"I'm the manager. I have got to take the flak, but I don't genuinely believe it's the things I've done that have put us where we are. I won't make excuses, but I really believe that every decision I've made has been good for this club. We have a big fan base and it we go down it will effect a lot of lives." (too right)
"I made up a story about Alex Kolinko, who had been in tears after the game. I said he came from the poorest mountain village in Latvia where he had to fight bears when he was eight.
"I said his grandparents had been shot by the Nazis, his mother had died of cancer and his sister was raped by a gang of mountain rebels. But he never shed a single tear because he was strong and brave.
"Then I told them that one month playing behind our defence had turned him into a blubbering wreck! The players didn't know what to say. Except Clinton Morrison - he said, 'It's a shame about his sister'."
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