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Archived News from April 2005

9th April 2005 21:04

Daily Mail Article:

Passionate Palmer is still talking tough

By Neil Moxley

transcribed by Carole

COLIN LARKIN was sadly mistaken if he thought he could put one over his manager Carlton Palmer. After Mansfield's leading scorer lasted only 22 minutes of last week's victory over Grimsby, his boss nailed him – publicly.

Palmer said: “I've told Colin that's the end of him at this club as far as I'm concerned. He asked to come off injured before half-time. I'd have hauled him off anyway, as I don't believe he was giving his lot.

“I like the lad but my job relies on people who are going to play football matches and who have the same desire and drive that I have.”

Palmer is not afraid to say what he thinks, and, on the odd occasion, he has been proven correct. He told Paul Gascoigne before a World Cup qualifier in Poland 12 years ago: “Your brain's gone, your knee's gone. You might as well forget it pal.”

To survive in any professional sport, the participant had to present a tough exterior. Palmer's is impenetrable.

It is not surprising. He overcame an ungainly appearance to play more than 700 games for a variety of clubs as well as 18 times for England, confounding those who suggested he lacked talent.

But Palmer, 39, is under no illusion about management at Field Mill. He will be finished if there is no improvement – and chairman Keith Haslam will not have to tell Palmer he is not up to the job. He will know himself.

The former Sheffield Wednesday mid-fielder said: “Yes, I've got opinions, and yes, there are people who don't care for them very much. It really doesn't matter to me what anyone else thinks. I'll do things for my reasons, nobody else's.

One subject he will not be drawn on is the lack of black managers in football. Having spoken out about the treatment of Ron Atkinson, it is an issue he is keen to avoid. But he has plenty to say for himself on other matters.

“The fact is, I can't play games with people. I'll call it as I see it. If people have a problem with it, they've got a problem. I'd rather say it how it is.

“It's got me into trouble. When I was at Leeds, George Graham told me he didn't much care for my take on everything. He told me to go to Southampton or drop down a division because I wasn't staying at Elland Road.

“So I went to Southampton and I was discussing a contract with Rupert Lowe and said I wanted a £75,000 bonus if we got into Europe.

“He laughed at me and said I could have it. We could have got there, too. With eight games left, we'd have got there by winning six. But some people were happy having survived relegation.

“There was Gordon Strachan at Coventry. He's a very good coach. He wanted to win desperately but was so uptight. It put the players on edge.

“I thought it was counter-productive as you don't play well when you're like that. I wanted him to chill out. He didn't appreciate my point of view and that was it – there's the door. I've spoken to him and George Graham about it since. You can't take this business personally.”

However, Palmer's record at his first club as a manager, Stockport, was less than impressive, with 25 victories from 92 games. But he maintains that the old adage about lies, damn lies and statistics was true at Edgeley Park.

He said: “The wage bill was crippling at £3.2 million – way too much for a club their size. My brief was to get 18 players on that money out of the club. It wasn't pleasant.

“I had to be cruel. It was not personal. I humiliated a couple of them – and I did it publicly. I don't think they understand. But I had to do it.

“By the time I left, the wage was down to £1.1m. I'd taken a cut myself of £75,000 a year, and I've left some good players behind. But people don't see the bigger picture.”

Palmer turned his back on a burgeoning TV career to take a cut in salary for another crack at management.

“There's no great secret to football at the top,” he said. “If you're Chelsea and Manchester United and you have the best players, you will win.

“But at this level you can be organised and disciplined. If the players have that – and desire – you can succeed. But the players must be hungry.

“If I come across people with opinions, like me, I will respect them and back them to the hilt if they're trying their guts out.

“I say to the young lads here they shouldn't listen to what anyone says about them. I'll know and they'll know if they've had a good game.

“I know that being at Mansfield, having been through Stockport, there's no room to mess up.

“I can look myself in the mirror each morning. I had the desire to get to where I did as a player. If I can get the same from my players, I'll be happy.”


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