"One day I'm going to answer the phone and someone will say, 'Harry, we're eighth in the league with a good squad and youngsters coming through. We're doing alright, but the manager has just left for Real Madrid and we need someone to take us to the next stage.' I never get that, I get, 'Harry, we're in the cart.' That will be my epitaph: Here lies Harry Bassett. Deep in the shit, where he started."
        - Dave 'Harry' Bassett, renowned for taking over struggling clubs

"I told my side that their defence is crap but the other six are f*cking brilliant"
        - Dave Bassett on his Leicester team talk before facing Manchester United.

We can't afford to build another dressing-room.

- Forest boss Dave Bassett on the rest of the squads feelings about Pierre Van Hooijdonks return from self-imposed exile. "You're not a real manager unless you've been sacked."
        - Malcolm Allison

"I look like a westerner and there are foreign fighters and international terrorists in Iraq."
        - German Bernd Stange resigns as coach of Iraq on his bodyguard's advice

"Sir John Hall was a multi-millionaire when I came back to Newcastle. With all the players I've bought, I'm trying to make him just an ordinary millionaire."
        - Kevin Keegan

"England can end the millenium as it started — as the greatest football nation in the world."
        - Kevin Keegan, mixing up his eras

According to The Express, Kevin Keegan will star in an advertising campaign aimed at tempting people back to church this Christmas. Presumably, Keggy was hired because of the way his Euro 2000 team inspired 20 million watching Englishmen to shout 'Jesus Christ' in unison.
        - Football365 Mediawatch

"I've told him to cut off his ponytail. I think it makes him less aerodynamic."
        - Arsene Wenger (allegedly) gives David Seaman an ultimatum

"Work on your strong points because they are what made you."
        - Arsene Wenger, coaching advice to Thierry Henry

"But you weren't world class when I signed you, Patrick."
        - Aresene Wegner, after an unhappy Patrick Vieira demands "world-class" signings

 "I'm French. I have not become an Englishman. I have the impression of living on an island called Arsenal. If you fancy a sightseeing tour of London, don't ask me. You would get lost."
        - Arsene Wenger

"I have only been here since 1996 but between 1966 and 1996 England had thirty years without foreign players and didn't win any more competitions in that time."
        - Arsene Wenger, commenting on calls for a quota of English players per team (Nov'07)

"I take pride in the fact that people go home having felt that for 90 minutes today, life is beautiful — and that's it, basically. That's why professional football exists."
        - Arsene Wenger, on Arsenal's approach to the beautiful game, "The Times"

He is, in the best possible sense, a football snob.
        - James Lawton, on the beautiful, fragile football of Arsene Wenger's teams

"It's a strange atmosphere always over there, it is darker and less glamorous, and you don't feel as high. It is a different kind of test — can you raise your level in a less exciting environment and perhaps still a very difficult one?"
        - Arsene Wenger, on the challenges of playing in Eastern Europe, "The Times"

"The score is high and very brutal but does not reflect what we saw on the pitch. The first shot on goal was a goal. The second was an own goal. The third was straight after half-time. They defend like mad and they catch us on the break."
        - Arsene Wenger, after his young Arsenal side lose 5-1 at Spurs

"It is like taking a man's car from his garage without asking permission or paying the cost. Then the car is abandoned in a field without any petrol left in the tank. It is broken down, we have to recover it, but a month later they come and take your car again."
        - Arsene Wenger, on losing players to international soccer

"As far as I'm concerned, this guy should never play football again. The answer you normally get after a tackle like that is 'he is not the type of guy who does that.' It's like a guy who kills one time in his life — it's enough. You have a dead person. This tackle is absolutely horrendous."
        - Arsene Wenger, after a horror tackle by Martin Taylor

"With a body like he has, I want him to be a bully. But he is too nice — he is perfect son-in-law material, but I don't want a team of son-in-laws."
        - Graeme Souness, looking for an edge from Martin Taylor

"Ideas are very funny things. They never work unless you do."
        - Danny Blanchflower

"Shouting your head off and waving arms in the air dosen't seem to have much effect, but that's management for you."
        - Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce

"I just hope he doesn't frighten the players 'cos they're frigtened enough right now."
        - Sunderland fan after Roy Keane steps in as manager

"The last time I was charged by the FA they had a murder lawyer in against me, so it's going to be a hard case to win."
        - Roy Keane, after being charged by the FA with misconduct

"I've got a temper if I need it. Nothing wrong with losing your temper, if it's for the right reasons."
        - Alex Ferguson

"What happened in the United changing room has happened to me 50 times in my career. I have kicked bottles of mineral water, bags and shoes but I never hit a player. It's a question of technique, and the Scots must have a better technique."
        - Juventus coach Marcello Lippi, after a boot kicked by Alex Ferguson hits David Beckham

        - Alex Ferguson sums up the typical modern goal celebration

"Acne is a bigger problem than injuries."
        - Brian Clough on his rather youthful Nottm Forest side

"Saturday comes again, welcome or not, it comes again like it always does, welcome or not, wanted or not, another judgment day — The chance to be saved, the chance to be damned."
        - Brian Clough in David Peace's "The Damned United"

"I was told I wouldn't be as good as Brian Clough and most of the time it was Dad telling me that."
        - Nigel Clough, about to follow his dad into management

"Very clever players, working for a very clever man... Nobody got results at the speed which Brian Clough got at football clubs... It's never been done before, it wont be done again."
        - John McGovern, captain of 1979-80 European Champions Nottm Forest

There is a theory that too much is laid at managers’ doors, that too often they are used as scapegoats, but the example of Martin O’Neill would suggest they do not get blamed nearly enough.
        - Jonathan Wilson, "FT"

"Arsenal and Manchester United play the best football. They're not happy with one goal, they want to win by three."
        - Chris Coleman, Fulham manager

"If you aren't the chairman of Manchester United, Real Madrid or AC Milan, I'll get back to you later."
        - Joe Kinnear's answer phone message when manager at Wimbledon

"He lived in a fantasy world. There was not a day when he didn't add some Mickey Mouse story about a club that wanted him. First of all, he came in and told me that Arsenal wanted to buy him, then the next week it was Manchester Utd, then the next week it was Real Madrid. He made it clear that he did not want to be at the club so, in the end, there was only one thing I could do — send him to Wigan."
        - Joe Kinnear, on shipping Charles N'Zogbia out of Newcastle

"I Wanted To Sign Scholes For Killie But Fergie Burst Out Laughing"
        - Alex Totten, manager of Kilmarnock, in "The Daily Record"

"Statistics are like miniskirts: they give you good ideas but hide the important things"
        – Aberdeen manager Ebbe Skovdahl

"I'm chuffed as a badger at the start of mating season."
        - Ian Holloway, as excited as only he can be about a crucial win

"The long ball stuff, I got that from Englishman Charles Reep, but I think my real innovation was zonal defending. We developed that to a degree that had never before been done and the players became really good at it. From 1993 to 1996 we conceded only one goal from open play."
        - Egil Olsen, recalling his time as Norway manager

"You don't have to have been a horse to be a jockey."
        - Arrigo Sacchi, Italy coach, defending a meagre playing record

"I just wanted to give my players some technical advice. I told them the game had started."

- Ron Atkinson on why he moved from the stand to the touchline during a game "We did not pass the ball... we couldn't have found our front two with radar."

        - Joe Royle, after Ipswich are beaten by Sunderland

"I am hoping to restore Nuneaton Borough to their former greatness."

"Your name is Sanchez, what are you doing playing for Northern Ireland?"
        - Lawrie Sanchez, recalling his debut for Norn Iron against Spain

"I wouldn’t have missed a second of it! At times we only narrowly lost to the big nations. And there had been the 1-1 draw with Belgium in the 1980s, the 0-0 against Scotland and, well, so on."
        - Paul Philipp, manager of Luxembourg for 17 years and many, many defeats

This is an unusual Scotland side because they have good players.

- Javier Clemente, Spanish Coach, on Scotland's 1996 Under-21 side I don't think being a great team in Scotland means very much.
        - Celtic manager Tommy Burns, on his club's 4-0 loss to Hamburg

"We live for games like these."
        - Scotland manager Alex McLeish, after they lose but take world champions Italy to the wire

"We've watched them twice, and seen a few videos. I didn't see them 38 times though, like McCarthy says he watched us. I don't think that's possible. I did my maths you see. That's 38 times 90 minutes - that's two months and the draw was only three weeks ago!"

- George Leekens, on Irelands' manager Mick McCarthy "It wasn’t a monkey on my back, it was Planet of the Apes."
        - Mick McCarthy, after his Sunderland team finally win a Premiership game

"I left as I arrived — fired with enthusiasm."

- John McGrath, sacked by Preston, 1991. "Terry, you are a nice fellow but do the best thing for this club and quit."
        - Words from an anonymous female Sheff Wed fan, which promopted Terry Yorath to resign

"The FAI can't afford to get rid of you Stan. So please do the decent thing and leave."
        - Jack Allen, urging Steve Staunton to resign as Ireland manager, "News of the World"

"I am not God."
        - Giovanni Trappatoni, playing down expectations as he takes over from Staunton

"I met with the manager on Tuesday night specifically to sack him. We had a lengthy meeting to discuss compensation. The amount agreed, it transpired, could not be funded by the board. So basically we could not afford to sack him. I have now given the manager my full support."
        - David Taylor, chairman of Huddersfield, backing manager Mick Wadsworth

"The trouble with you is that you think you know all the answers."
"Ah, God love you, you don't even know the questions!"
        - Danny Blanchflower recalls a conversation with a Spurs' Director

"With several players likely to be hors de combat for an indeterminate period, augmentation of the squad is a prerequisite for the perpetuation of our season."
        - Harry Smith, manager of non-league Crowborough FC, "The Sussex Express"

"We had probably our best ever Player of the Year Dance last week. You elected Dennis Wise as Player of the Year. Dennis accepted his award mimicking Vialli, whereupon Zola shouted 'Speak English', Dennis switched to his normal Cockney voice only for Zola to shout 'You're still not speaking English'."
        – Chelsea Chairman Ken Bates, programme notes, november 1998.

"Experience shows that after a disaster it is particularly difficult with the Americans, who appear to be quite cowardly despite their Rambo films."
        - Ken Bates, explaining the lack of American tourists at Chelsea Village

"Unfortunately much of it is frittered away on fast cars, designer clothes and an attitude to pleasure reminiscent of the 18-30 holiday packages."
        - Ken Bates, on the lifestyles of his young Chelsea stars after two of them are arrested

"Dear Ken, welcome back to football. Let hostilities commence. Let's have lunch."
        - David Dein, Arsenal's chief executive, in fax to Ken Bates, the new Leeds chairman.

David Dein has only two passions, said one person who knows him reasonably well: football and Arsenal football club.
        - Roger Blitz, "FT" after Dein's resignation from Arsenal board

"A message to the best football supporters in the world. We need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be having you. Come on!"
        - Delia Smith, Norwich City director, with a disastrous halftime PA address to their fans

"The black players at this club lend the side a lot of skill and flair,  but you also need white players to balance things up and give the team some brains and common sense."
        - Crystal Palace Chairman Ron Noades, speaking in 1991.

"If we have to go to hell, we will go without foreigners."
        - Jose Maria Arrate, defending Athletic Bilbao's non-foreigner policy

"Carlos Kickaballs."
        - Alan Sugar, then Spurs Chairman, on the influx of high-paid foreign players

"I tape over most of them with Corrie or Neighbours. Most of them are crap. They can f***ing make anyone look good. I signed Marco Boogers off a video. He was a good player but a nutter. They didn't show that on the video."
        - Harry Redknapp on what he does with the videos he is sent promoting players

"I left a couple of my foreigners out last week and they started talking in 'foreign'. I knew what they were saying: "Blah, blah, blah, le b****** manager, f****** uselss b******!"
        - Harry Redknapp

"I have got to a point now where I don't like footballers. I don't like football agents and I don't like footballers because it's so one-sided with them."
        - David Sullivan, owner of Birmingham City

"There are parasites in football who know just one word — money."
        - Vladimir Romanov, Hearts chairman

"Edinburgh is an amazing city. I'm so impressed with the genius of those who created it. It fascinates and captivates you immediately. Its beauty was created during the times of the kings of old, and now I see how everything that people were gathering for centuries — a culture, all Walter Scott's heritage, is being ruled and destroyed by monkeys from the safari park."
        - Vladimir Romanov, Chairman of Hearts-ki

One of the reserves came up to me and said 'I'm finding it a bit hard, it's the first time I've ever been dropped'. So I told him to do what Nick Faldo does and work at his game. Next thing I know he's doing exactly what Faldo does, he's taken up golf.
        - Ron Atkinson

"Stress is when you're 29 years old, playing for Rochdale, with an expiring contract and a mortgage to pay."
        - John Gregory, Aston Villa, upon hearing that Stan Collymore is suffering stress

"It was not nerve wracking. Nerve wracking is going into a clothing factory to face 100 women, all with scissors in their hands, to tell them they're not going to be paid and they will lose their jobs."
        - Gerald Krasner, Chairmen of Leeds during a relegation dogfight

"I don't like going to bed at night with only one left-back."
        - Peter Taylor, obsessing over his sqaud's lack of depth

"Over analyse, paralyse, you mustn't over analyse..."
"Do you wake up at four in the morning and wonder who should be playing left-back?"
"Four? I would love to sleep that long. If you want a really long career you have to find a way of switching off. I do it when I'm out walking my dog, Alex Ferguson got into horses, others get into wine. Some players like going shopping, which is not my scene. A lot of them turn to golf. I tried it, didn't like it. I have to walk. If I couldn't I'd be in a padded cell by now."
        - Roy Keane, interviewed by Will Buckley in "The Observer"

"I'm not going to make a present of Santa."
        - New Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce, refusing to sell striker Santa Cruz

"Nine months of misery."
        - Steve Coppell, manager of newly-promoted Crystal Palace, on his expectations for season 97

"I remember the day when they sold Brian Deane and Jan Aage Fjortoft. It was like when President Kennedy got shot."
        - Neil Warnock, addressing fans after taking over at Sheffield United

"I didn't realise you could travel so far and still be in England."
        - Kevin Bond, Bournemouth manager, after taking a 300-mile trip to Barrow

"A terrific game, even on the losing side I could enjoy it."
        - Nigel Worthington, Norwwich manager, after his side lose 4-3 against Southampton

"He said that? He’s got to be a masochist. How can anyone in charge of teams like ours say it’s fun watching defending like that?"
        - Harry Redknapp, manager of Southampton in the above match

"It's like being on the Titanic and seeing there's only one lifeboat left."
        - Harry Redknapp, as 3 out of 4 sides face relegation on the season's final day

"What are they going to do, shoot me? It's not war you know."
        - Harry Redknapp, unafraid of returning to former club Portsmouth

"There's as much chance of McAvennie leaving as there is of us losing 5-1 tomorrow."
        - Billy McNeill, Celtic manager 1988, Have a guess what happened?

"I've told the players we need to win so that I can have the cash to buy some new ones."
        - Chris Turner, Peterborough Manager, before a Littlewoods' Cup Match

"That's great. Tell him he's Pele and get him back on."
        - John Lambie, Partick Thistle Manager, when told a concussed striker did not know who he was.

"It sounds blase but there is a certain amount of luck. We'd all like to take a certain amount of credit for Kevin Doyle... But I can't really remember what it was I particularly liked about Kevin when I watched him in Ireland. I had five pints of Guinness in the afternoon and it was all a bit blurred."
    - Steve Coppell, on discovering bargain buy Kevin Doyle in the League of Ireland, "The Guardian"

"We'll still be happy if we lose. It's on at the same time as the beer festival."
        - Niall O'Mahoney, Cork City Manager, before a UEFA Cup game against Bayern Munich

"You couldn't write a story like this — a village team from Wales playing the European champions. I would have preferred to get someone a little bit easier so we could still be in when the big clubs like Everton come in, in the third round."
        - Ken McKenna, TNS manager and Everton fan, before their qualifier against Liverpool

"It's hard to be passionate twice a week."

- George Graham, on Arsenal's punishing schedule, 1991 "You've cost us 27 goals this season!" - Barry Fry criticises one of his full-backs "Look at that..there's no one at the back post. [more agitated] There's nobody on the back post. [screams at players...but its too late] There's nobody on the fucking back post. [GOAL]. [resigned] I fucking told them." - Barry Fry watches in anguish as his defence fail to guard the backpost on a corner "Getting to the first round of the FA Cup is a marvellous achievement for a club like ours. Even if we have won the World Cup." - Stuart Alderson, general manager of West Auckland, the County Durham village side who in 1910 beat Juventus to win the Lipton Football Trophy, the World Cup of its day. "I will have to make tactical decisions, technical decisions and emotional decisions. This time it was a tactical one."
        - New Portsmouth boss Tony Adams, dropping striker Jermaine Defoe for an away match

"It's pointless speaking to the ref afterwards but it is annoying when everyone is pushing for the upset, we were playing the worst role possible in the occasion. As we say in Spain 'we were dancing with the ugliest person on the dance floor'."
        - Roberto Martinez, Manager of Swansea

"I said to them last week that I'd like them to win ugly and they certainly won ugly today. That was the ugliest thing I've seen since the ugly sisters fell out of the ugly tree."
        - Terry Butcher, after his Motherwell side beat Falkirk 1-0

"That's a pudding out there... It's unplayable. The pitch is moving, it's a bog. I wouldn't put horses on it."
        - Cardiff boss Dave Jones, unhappy with the state of Birmingham's pitch

"You know it’s a crisis when Southampton are above you in the in the league."
        - Terry McDermott, on Liverpool's disastrous Christmas run in 2002

"On current form, both teams will probably lose."
        - Adrian Boothroyd, preparing for a relegation dogfight

"He's not fit, either physically or biomechanically."
        - Adrian Boothroyd, with an intriguing update on Collins John

A well known coach once told me the worst thing you can give a footballer is an excuse. If before a match the manager says something about the heat, about the referee, problems with injuries, then the players have that in their minds.
        - Guillem Balague, "Metro"

"Good players win you games, good formations stop you losing them."
        - Gordon Strachan

"Gordon, can we have a quick word please?"
"Velocity." [walks off]
        - A Reporter fails to get the better of Gordon Strachan

"If you keep asking me questions, I will continue to find excuses."
        - Gordon Strachan, fed up with queries about Celtic's awful away form in Europe

"The worlds looks a totally different place after two wins. I can even enjoy watching Blind Date or laugh at Noel's House Party."
        - Gordon Strachan

"I tried to talk to the ref but it is easier to get to see the Pope. If I'm in London again and I get mugged I hope the same number of people turn up to protect me. There were six police, four stewards and even a UN peace observer out there."
        - Gordon Strachan

"I think if you've managed Celtic or Rangers you can go on to be Prime Minister of Great Britain, it's that hard."
        - Gordon Strachan, Celtic manager

"In today's world only the smell of blood interests you."
        - Raymond Dommenech, hitting back at the press following a French defeat

"I'm the same as maybe six or seven people in every ten - I can't take f***ing criticism."
            - Martin Jol, Spurs manager

"Luckily they had a stupid on their side too."
        - Harry Redknapp, as his 10-man Southampton hold 10-man Arsenal

"I didn't know anything about it, I swear. Nor did Dave Bassett. We were sitting there saying 'What's happening here?'. It is frightening. A nightmare."
        - Harry Redknapp, witnessing a new offside law in action for first time

"Referees dont make mistakes. Or at least they dont since I got fined for saying otherwise."
        - Roma coach Zdenek Zemen

"They missed the handball, that the ball didn't go over the line, and the guy is offside in any case. But apart from that it was a good goal."
        - Mark Hughes, Blackburn manager, after losing to a dodgy decision

"I felt that we couldn’t win the game. It was absolutely shocking."

- Martin O'Neill, after the referee sends off Garry Parker for taking a quick free-kick in a UEFA cup tie. "My youth coach told me he'd got these two great 15-year-olds. I told him I don't want to know, because by the time they're 18 I'll be dead." - Martin O'Neill, Leicester City boss, who...well gets involved in matches I've told the lads we only need 10 more points to be safe this year. - Norwich Boss Mike Walker following his teams unexpectedly great start to the season, which sees them top the table, 1992 We're in the top six, we've got five points and I've told the lads we need another 80 to win the League. - Wimbledon boss Joe Kinnear's latest dig at the doom merchants who tipped the Dons to get relegated. A prickly character, who hates criticism, Howard Wilkinson once walked into a press room while in charge at Hillsborough and asked reporters: "What the hell do you know about the game? How many caps have you lot won?" For once, the former schoolmaster was lost for words when Jimmy Armfield of Radio Five answered: "Fifty-seven, Howard."
        - Ian Edwards, "The Mirror"

"Every club he's been to has had great injury crises. Every club. And it's always hamstrings."
        - Eamon Dunphy, spotting coincidences that follow Graeme Souness around, "RTE"

"Klaus Toppmoller: hair like David Gower and dress sense like Austin Powers."
        – Jon Champion, describing the Bayer Leverkusen's manager

"If someone states that Ajax played a negative game then maybe we are smarter than Manchester City."
        - Ajax manager Ronald Koeman after they hold Arsenal to 0-0 following their 5-1 win over City

"Once Celtic got their equaliser, they played a sort of anti-football."
        - Frank Rijkaard, manager of Barcelona

"Is it sexist to have traditional values? Values such as holding a door open for a woman, helping a mother with a pushchair off a train or up an escalator, worrying what time my daughter will be home and whether she is escorted, buying flowers and paying for dinner. If all of these are sexist and prehistoric, then I am guilty of them all."
        - Mike Newell, followingup his criticism female officials

"I've not had to ask permission from Geraldine to take the job. I'm one of the few men in this life who are not under the thumb. I'm stronger than that. Did she want me out of the house? Listen, she's wanted me out of the house for the past 27 years and has often asked me not to come back again. But I always show up, and really, she can't do without me, because I'm brilliant."
        - Martin O'Neill, returning to football with Aston Villa


"I never comment on referees and I'm not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat."
        - Ron Atkinson

"You might as well talk to my baby daughter. You'll get more sense out of her"
        - Kenny Dalglish to a reporter preparing to interview Alex Ferguson

"Kenny Dalglish has associates but only a few friends. There's nothing wrong with that, as you only need six people to carry your coffin."
        - Fergie hits back

"The Silence Of The Prams."
        - The Daily Telegraph on Fergie's refusal to be interviewed by anyone except MUTV.

"Scots they're either nice or they're horrid and these two are horrid."
"The Scots wont like that Eamon, thats bordering on racism".
"Its not racism its ethnic criticism Bill".
        - Eamon Dunphy, about the Alex Ferguson-Gordon Strachan feud

"He's like an Old Testament God to his players."
        - Anonymous description of Fergie

"Apparently Sir Alex Ferguson calls the City of Manchester Stadium the Temple of Doom, which might not be the greatest act of neighbourly goodwill but, for now, seems pretty apt."
        - from "The Guardian"

Alex Ferguson is revelling in his role as tormentor in chief. I get the impression that he would be happier driving Jose Mourinho to a nervous breakdown and finishing a point behind Chelsea then he would be reclaiming the Premiership crown from a sane Special One. At the weekend, he gave a master class in destabilisation. Kevin Keegan was never the same after he cracked up when subjected to Fergie's psychological taunts. The Newcastle manager's breakdown in the 1996 title race was a very public affair. "I would love it if we beat them, love it" is now code for "football crazy, football mad". Even the urbane Arsène Wenger has been reduced to semi-deranged outbursts in the face of Ferguson's mind games. Has there ever been a football manager who has driven so many rivals to the edge of madness, and delighted in it so? How the American military would treasure him. They could get save themselves billions of dollars, get rid of the whole psyops department, and replace it with Sir Alex. Fergie is cruel, cunning, twisted, manipulative, dangerous, indestructible. What an asset he could be to the war on terror. The man's wasted in football.
        - Simon Hattenstone, "The Guardian"

"Liverpool can play for only five minutes and win the game, that is the way they are. They pump the ball into the box and with good set-piece delivery they keep you under pressure."
        - Sir Alex Ferguson, after Liverpool knock Man Utd out of the FA Cup (2006)

"Crystal Palace won an injunction preventing Steve Bruce from walking out without serving his full notice period. In an uncharacteristically astute move, the powers that be at Selhurst Park had written a clause into his contract ensuring that the flibbertigibbet manager has to serve a nine-month period before he can skulk off elsewhere."
        - Football365 Mediawatch

"They've kicked our backsides... we've got to lick our wounds..."
        - Steve Bruce, mixing metaphors after a heavy defeat for Wigan

"David James is frustrated because he thinks us being bottom isn’t helping his chances with England. I think it gives him more chance to show his ability."
        - Glenn Roeder, West Ham manager

"All I do know is that I'll never be able to achieve what Tommy Docherty did, and that is take Aston Villa into the third division and Manchester United into the second division"
        - Ron Atkinson

"I can't teach lame ducks to fly any more."
        - United States coach Bob Gansler announces his resignation

"Only if there's an outbreak of the bubonic plague."
        - Giovanni Trapattoni on Paolo Di Canio's chance of an international callup

"Our manager’s a pig-nosed egotist who looks like Tubbs out of The League Of Gentlemen?"
        - Football 365 ponder the opinion of Leeds players on David O'Leary

"The only good thing about having Graeme Souness as manager of your club is that once he's been fired, you know he won't get the job again."
        - Anonymous Newcastle fan

"In my first youth team game, we were playing Leeds United and we were losing 3-0. He had a go at everyone and then he said to me: 'And as for you, you kangaroo, you can fuck off right now. You're the worst player I've seen in my life.' "
        - Craig Johnston recalling a post-mortem held by Jack Charlton.

"You've all gotta go. You've all gotta go. Any of yer on 35 grand and all that, you've all gotta go. The chairman wants to bring players in on 250 quid a week. He might be right! I think he is right! You're a disgrace!"
        - John Sitton, with the team talk from hell on "Orient: Club for a Fiver"

"Remember I’ve seen a video tape of a Scotland-England match and I’ve seen him miss a chance from five yards. It was against England and he couldn’t score. So what does that say?"
        - Berti Vogts responds to criticisms from Sky commentator Charlie Nicholas

"Anybody who is thinking of applying for the Scotland job in the next eight or nine years should go get themselves checked out by about fifteen psychiatrists."
        - Celtic manager Martin O'Neill on the troubles of incumbent Berti Vogts

"Yorkie has officially retired about 5 times... The man's a clown... People are going on about the game and agents and directors of football and managers losing their jobs, but we should be worried about people like him... Clowns. That's the last time I'm going to say clown... If he's the vice-president of FIFA, God help us all."
        - Roy Keane, riposting to Jack Warner after a club-v-country clash over Dwight Yorke

"There has been lots of things said about me over the years. I am happy to comment on people's opinion in football I respect, but Tony Cascarino is a man I certainly do not respect, for a lot of reasons, and if I told you, you would be shocked. So the day I worry about Tony Cascarino will be a very sad day of my life."
        - Roy Keane

"Roy Keane's got 'shocking' information about me? I'd like to know what that is. Tell the world, Roy. I've got nothing to hide. But I know plenty about you that would shock quite a few people. If Roy's trying to intimidate me, it won't work. You can't bully me, Roy - Keane versus Cascarino is a fight that will go the distance... It's funny, I never had a fallout with Roy over a decade as Ireland team-mates, but as soon as I started writing my honest opinion about the way he behaves, he didn't like it. Roy needs to look at his own behaviour, not mine. He needs to ask why rumours spread within the game about why many players at Sunderland weren't happy while he was in charge there. He should look at why he left Sunderland in the lurch, just like he did with Ireland. Will the same thing happen at Ipswich?"
        - Tony Cascarino hits back (Apr'09)

"He should have endured the life of a coward."
       - Lucien Mettomo's former coach gives his opinion on the defender's decision to join Blackburn, walking out in his club St Etienne

"Warnock claims I did nothing but play with my b******s for 15 minutes while his staff were in our company. Let me tell you Neil, if you had any, Sheffield United would still be a Premier League club."
        - Wally Downes, Reading coach (2007)

"I apologise to the president, the players, the city and the fans of Parma. I'm not apologising to him — because he deserved it."
        - Catania coach Silvio Baldini after kicking Parma coach Domencio Di Carlo up the backside

"This is a beautiful treason. He used me."
        - Jose Anigo, Marseille Coach, on Mathieu Flamini's move to Arsenal

"This man - what's his name? The number 10, the small one who doesn't play in the Real Madrid first team... I have a history in football but what is the history of this guy, this midget?"
        - Carlos Alberto, Azerbaijan boss, about England's Michael Owen

"Experience is not enough, especially when it comes from only one vision, one mentality, and one way of doing things, namely the English way."
        - Massimo Maccarone, with a parting dig at former boss Steve McClaren

"There's more chance of me flying Concorde to the moon blindfolded than there is of you taking Wales to the World Cup."
        - Robbie Savage to John Toshack

"If Gattuso is vital to Italy then I am a priest."
"If I was in his shoes, I wouldn't become a priest. He is already at a certain age and should enjoy himself."
        - Luis Aragones (of Spain) and Gennaro Gattuso (of Italy) before their quarter final

"I think Sepp Blatter is in danger...or has reached a point now, where he is being mocked within the game. Whether he's getting too old, I don't know. But things can happen to people in power. Look at some of the despots in Africa... From a position of great power, he has uttered so many ridiculous statements that he is in danger of seriously damaging his credibility."
        - Alex Ferguson, interviewed in GQ Magazine


"It’s all about the climate. I had a long discussion about it when I went to Scotland to see Andy Roxburgh. I worked with a Scottish youth side and had them do the same drills I would do in Italy. I realised that, between the wind, the rain and the cold, there was no way they could do it. How can you possibly teach anybody anything in those conditions? To me, it’s pretty obvious and it explains why Brazilians are more technical than Europeans and, in Italy, the further south you go the more technical they are."
        - Fabio Capello, on the cultural differences behind footballing styles

Italians take the “real world” with them on to the football pitch at youth level. And because it’s real, the rewards go to the winners, not the nice guys or those who play by the rules. In Serie B, late in the season, if a team has nothing left to play for, it will too often throw matches if its opponents need points. When the fixture list is drawn up in the summer, the coach and general manager will get together, study the last six games and say something like: “Against so-and-so, we’re OK. If they need points, we’ll give them points, and if we need them, they’ll help us out...” This is so common that late in the season many bookmakers won’t accept bets on such matches. It is taken as read that this will occur. In fact, it is seen as rude and churlish not to give your opponent the points if you don’t need them. It’s as if you’re gratuitously condemning them. In England, things could not be more different. On the last day of the 2004-05 season, none of the relegation issues had been decided and Fulham had nothing to gain by beating Norwich City. Nothing at all. And, in fact, they had something to lose: had they allowed Norwich to win, they would have been owed a favour in future. Now (after beating them 6-0), they had nothing. English fair play and sportsmanship is more than just a cliché.
        - Gianluca Vialli, "The Italian Job"

"I always believed in the English sense of fair play, but Alex Ferguson is, of course, from Scotland and in Scotland they do not have fair play, apparently."
        - Mircea Lucescu, Inter Milan coach, responds after Ferguson accuses Italians of cheating

"If I were going to war I would want to be alongside an Englishman not a Frenchman. The Frenchman would think too much."
        - Arsene Wenger

"Sometimes now, when I watch continental games on television, I'm a bit bored. I ask, 'where is the intensity?'"
        - Arsene Wenger adjusts to life in England

"In England everything is liberalised. Within certain boundaries and rules everybody can do what he likes. Maybe London's society has a different tempo, a different dynamic. London is fast, productive, creative but it is not England. If you want to transfer that to football, you could say: in the four big English clubs and maybe in the one or two behind them there is a top level. Everything that comes after that rather mirrors English society. It's honest, fair and hard, sometimes also fast, but not always so perfect."
        - Jens Lehmann, former Arsenal goalkeeper


"A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are. In my time at Liverpool we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool Reserves."

"The problem with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head"

"Take that bandage off. And what do you mean about YOUR knee? It's Liverpool's knee!"

"Of course I didn't take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present. It was her birthday. Would I have got married in the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves."

"Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple."

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

"If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then what is he doing on the pitch ?" (incorrectly attributed)

"If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be."

- Bill Shankly, who took Liverpool from obscurity "Son, you'll do well here as long as you remember two things. Don't over-eat and don't lose your accent." ( to Ian St. John )

"Still we've had the hard times too — one year we finished second."

"If you're in the penalty area and don't know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we'll discuss the options later."

"At the highest level the first two yards are in your head."
        - Bob Paisley, who conquered Europe

"Laddie, that man scored 200 goals in 270 matches — an incredible record — and he has won cup after cup as a manager. When he talks, pin back your ears."
        - Bill Shankly to a photographer who suggested Brian Clough was outspoken

"If I'd agreed to pay a 21-year-old who hadn't played for England 12 grand a week, I would have had 10 guys knocking on my door saying that they were full internationals and that they wanted the same money."
        - Roy Evans on why he didn't buy Chris Sutton in 1994

"Cricket? You tell your wife you're going to play a match and you come back five days later."
        - Rafa Benitez, during the 2005 Ashes series

"We've been beaten before but never defeated. Tonight we were defeated."
        - Inter Milan coach Helenio Herrera after their 3-1 loss to Liverpool (1965)


"If it is the case that you need just a first 11 and three or four more players, then why did Christopher Columbus sail to India to discover America?"
        - Claudio Ranieri, confusing journalists for Chelsea

"Damien is Damien. When I don't put him in the squad my mother, who's 84, asks 'why isn't Damien playing?' She kills me about it and that's true"
        - Claudio Ranieri's mother is a fan of Irish winger Damien Duff

"He's a crazy man."
        - Claudio Ranieri, viewing his own celebrations after Chelsea defeat Arsenal

"Jesus Christ said turn the other cheek. Unfortunately Luis Figo is not Jesus Christ."
        - Phil Scolari, as Portugal manager, after Figo retaliates

"Offside killed my team. They are not God. They made a mistake and I understand. I don't want three points, I just want 'sorry.'"
        - Luiz Felipe Scolari, after Chelsea lose to an offside goal

"I am in a lot of pain. They say it is more pain than when you have a baby but I don't know as I have not had one. It is not possible."
        - Phil Scolari, after being rushed to hospital with kidney stones

"This is a game between players from 12 national sides, a game that if you have a friend in China, in Brazil, in half the world he wants to watch. I was thinking of this game when I signed for Chelsea."
        - Luiz Felipe Scolari, ahead of a clash with Man Utd

Luiz Philipe Scolari has once again demonstrated his tactical genius after pocketing £15m for just seven months work. Following his dismissal by Chelsea, Scolari stressed that while his former rivals were getting up and going to work every day, he would walk away with enough money to build his own pirate ship. He said: "Winning football matches when you have 11 Brazilians in your team is not particularly difficult. My main task was ensuring the bus driver knew the way to the stadium. The tactical genius was parlaying that skill as a bus driver's assistant into a win or lose contract worth £15 million."
Scolari said he would use some of the money to fulfill his long-held fantasy of pretending to be Gene Hackman for a day. He added: "I will spend the morning dressed as Lex Luthor, firing a missile at the San Andreas fault while shouting 'Miss Tessmacher!' every five minutes."
        - Seen on The Daily Mash

"Let slip the dogs of champions."
        - Jose Mourinho, ahead of a CL clash with Man Utd, in his "I'm on Setanta Sports" persona

"Please don’t call me arrogant, but I am European champion and I think I am a special one."
        - Jose Mourinho, taking charge at Chelsea (Jun'04)

"People don't know about football. They think they know about it but they don't know much."
        - Jose Mourinho, interviewed by the BBC about how 'people' expect Chelsea success

"Four wins in four matches. It could not be better... the world is fantastic."
        - Jose Mourinho, interviewed by the BBC about Chelsea's Christmas games

"Football is a game based on emotion and intelligence. Anyone can be clever, the trick is not to think the other guy is stupid."
        - Jose Mourinho, when manager of FC Porto

"I don't have to be jealous of Barcelona because they have 100 years of history and have won the European Cup once. I have only been managing for five years and I have the same amount of Champions League trophies to my name."
        - Jose Mourinho

"We played a whole season unbeaten but you did not see me every week jumping on the tables. Once it's over it's over and you do in the next one as well as you can. Plenty of managers who have won the Champions League will not be considered great managers."
        - Arsene Wenger, with a dig at Jose "I've won the Champions League, he hasn't" Mourinho

"He predicts things. I have often heard him say things which are proved right minutes later. Its really impressive — almost mystical."
        - Didier Drogba on Jose 'The Special One' Mourinho

"Do you have a brother or cousin in Ivory Coast, because I don’t have the money to bring you to Porto."
        - Jose Mourinho, in pre-Chelsea mode, to Didier Drogba in 2004

"Drogba is a fighter. He is the kind of player I would say 'With you I could go to every war.'"
        - Jose Mourinho

"It is like when you go to war: we have to know how our enemies attack and defend."
        - Jose Mourinho, on preparing his teams

"Look at my haircut. I am ready for the war. The objective is to win the Premiershp. I don't want to dominate, to finish without defeat, record points or goals or consecutive wins. The Premiership is so difficult you cannot be focused on that. I just think about winning."
        - Jose Mourinho, summer 2006

"Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains. Sometimes you have ugly people who are intelligent, like scientists. Our pitch is a bit like that. From the top it's a disgrace but the ball rolls at normal speed."
       - Jose Mourinho, defending the state of Chelsea's pitch

"We all want to play great music all the time, but if that is not possible, you have to hit as many right notes as you can."
        - Jose Mourinho, after Chelsea eke out a result

"A great pianist doesn't run around the piano or do push ups with his fingers. To be great, he plays the piano. ...being a footballer is not about running, push-ups or physical work generally. The best way to be a great footballer is to play."
        - Jose Mourinho

"For me pressure is bird flu. I'm serious. I'm feeling a lot of pressure with the problem in Scotland. It's not fun and I'm more scared of it than football. Football is nothing compared with life. For me bird flu is the drama of the last few days. I'll have to buy a mask."
        - Jose Mourinho, responding to a question about the 'pressure' of Man Utd catching Chelsea

"You're getting sacked in the summer!"
        - Watford fans, to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho (March'07)

"The worst thing about playing Chelsea is having to listen to Mourinho afterwards. He talks absolute b******s."
        - Edmilson of Barcelona

"It is like having a blanket that is too small for the bed, you pull the blanket up to keep your chest warm, and your feet stick out. I cannot buy a bigger blanket because the supermarket is closed. But the blanket I have is made of cashmere. So it's good."
        - Jose Mourinho (Mario Rosenstock), on Today FM Gift Grub

Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho has blamed his fantasy football selections for rumours he is interested in signing Jermaine Jenas from Tottenham. "Last July the Daily Telegraph started their fantasy football league and paid me to take part," said Mourinho. "In my squad I put Jenas and others. Six months later the market reopens and it comes out I like these players. "I like them, otherwise I wouldn't have put them in my squad, but that's a transfer market without rules." The former Chelsea boss has been linked with a bid for midfielder Jenas, 25, in recent days... Mourinho made wholesale changes to his failing fantasy squad in October. Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips was one of five players brought in to rectify the situation, but the winger has now been axed in favour of Arsenal's Denilson. Mourinho is currently ranked well outside the top 100,000 participants.
        - Seen on the BBC website

"It had not crossed my mind, but maybe it has Mourinho's because that is what Chelsea did two seasons ago to Xabi Alonso."
        - Rafa Benitez responds to claims that Liverpool would try to get Didier Drogba suspended

"The Special Ones."
        - Rafa Benitez's description of the Liverpool fans as he wins his psych duel with Mourinho

"If Ashley Cole is ready we have 15 players for the final. I'll have to choose between Hilario, who's not bad playing forward or I'll bring in one of the kids."
        - Jose Mourinho, considering goalie Hilario as a sub striker for the FA Cup Final

"The dog is in Portugal and the city of London is safe."
        - Jose Mourinho, after he obstructs the quarantining of his pet dog, Gullit

"I asked the players: 'Do you want to enjoy the game? Or do you want to enjoy after the game?' The players told me they wanted to enjoy after the game so I said: 'OK, then we will enjoy after the game'."
        - Jose Mourinho, explaining their dull FA Cup Final victory over Man Utd

At times Mourinho's charm has been offered as an excuse against his bullying and the character assassination. "He spoke his mind," his defenders said last week, but, for his own mental health, one hopes not. Saying what you think may be a sign of an independent man, but it can also be the markings of a sociopath.
        - Dion Fanning, after Jose Mourinho departs Chelsea, "The Irish Independent"

Football365 is issuing a challenge to Jose Mourinho: Take this frankly awful Bolton side into the top eight of the Premier League this season. Then you can truly call yourself the Special One!
        - Sarah Winterburn, after Sammy Lee leaves Bolton "F365"

Another Israeli to lead flock into the Promised Land.
        - The Daily Mirror, after Avram Grant's appointment

"A player who dives and wins a penalty in Portugal, or Spain or Italy is considered clever, experienced, cunning, someone who understands the game. In England a player who wins a penalty like that is a cheat."
        - Jose Mourinho

"You are pushed to behave differently here, you don’t really have a choice. If you cheat you have no chance of being admired. Even your own supporters will dislike you. So what do you do? Well, the way is not to be stupid, but not to cheat either. If there is a foul, you have to fall. I call it 'helping the referee to make a decision'. That’s not cheating."
        - Jose Mourinho

The longer Jose Mourinho goes on, and on, and on, the more difficult it is for me not to despise him and the set of values he's bringing to football.
        - John Giles, after Chelsea-Barcelona in Feb'06, "Evening Herald"

"Ferreira will be kicking himself for losing his man there."
"Mourinho will be kicking him..."
        - Liam Brady and John Giles, watching a rare Chelsea defeat on RTE

"Eleven against eleven they never beat us."
        - Jose Mourinho, defiantly mad after Barcelona KO Chelsea

I don’t get what’s happening to Jose Mourinho of late. He’s lapsing into the kind of Portuguese moroseness you get from staring at the Atlantic horizon and imagining you’re the last place in the world, while listening to endless renditions of the fado. His latest line about 'everyone hates us and we don’t care' sounds like vintage Joe Kinnear in the great days of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang.
        - Peter Chapman, "The Financial Times"

Portuguese Men At War.'
        - The Times on Jose Mourinho's row with Cristiano Ronaldo

Jose Mourinho was apparently incensed that his side were not given a penalty against Newcastle last week: the fact that the supposed foul took place nearer the centre circle than the goalline did not assuage his sense of grievance; penalties should be awarded to Chelsea even when they’re clearly not penalties, he seemed to imply, just to even things up a bit... Mourinho then yelled "If Ronaldo says it is a lie penalties were not given against United, then he is lying." ...If you look at the statistics, you will see there is a broad correlation between position in the Premiership and penalties both awarded for and against any team. By which I mean that, generally speaking, the top teams tend to be given more penalties and have fewer awarded against them, whereas with useless teams, the reverse is true. That much you might expect; good teams tend to be on the attack rather more. Bad teams tend to hang around in their own penalty area, looking forlorn and hacking out at foreign wingers.
        - Rod Liddle, "The Times"

Perhaps José Mourinho’s most extraordinary achievement in his two seasons in charge of Chelsea is to make Manchester United popular. Once the land was awash with ABUs — supporters of Anyone But United — but when Chelsea travel to Old Trafford on Sunday, the majority of neutrals will be wanting the home side to win. That is in part down to Chelsea’s recent domination of the Premiership — but only in part. The issue really is attitude. United in their 1990s pomp were far from blameless but those were parlour games by comparison with Chelsea’s transgressions. Neither Sir Alex Ferguson nor Arsène Wenger are good losers — indeed, the distressing thought is that it may not be possible to be both gracious and successful in modern football. But even in his days as a bawling touchline watch-tapper, Ferguson never made personal attacks on referees.
        - Jonathan Wilson, "FT"

"If something is not right we give out about it. He is almost a Yorkshireman with a Portuguese accent."
        - Neil Warnock, finding an affinity with Jose Mourinho

When I take my kids to the zoo in Los Angeles, they always look the longest at the creature that moves the least — especially those in the reptile house. I asked myself: 'Who are the people that are pretty cool but also very still and monotone in their expression?' and I thought of Jose Mourinho.
        - Actor Julian Sands, explaining his inspiration for his role as a Russian villain in "24"

When you have a personal fortune of £11.7billion, you can perhaps be forgiven for feeling the need for protection. In Roman Abramovich's case, the solution is to order an armour-plated mega-yacht with missile detection system to offer early warning of attack by pirates or terrorists. At 550ft long, the vessel, costing more than £200million, will be the largest private yacht ever constructed. The yacht will include radar equipment designed to warn the crew of incoming rockets, together with bullet-proof windows and armour plating on the bridge and around the 41-year-old Russian tycoon's cabin. There will be twin helicopter pads and anti-bugging equipment, while the crew of 70 will include former SAS and Special Boat Service personnel. If intruders make it on board the Eclipse, named because it is intended to overshadow all other private boats, Abramovich and his girlfriend Daria Zhukova, 26, could escape in a yellow submarine which can dive to 160ft.
        - Seen in The Daily Mail (and a James Bond film...)

Scolari gets an idea of what he wants to do and he does it. And, because he also happens to be a very skilled man-manager and motivator, it usually works out. Exhibit A: Brazil in the 2002 World Cup. Scolari knew he had a talented, but somewhat ill-assorted squad. He had three very gifted attacking players -- Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho -- and two outstanding, if aging fullbacks, Cafú and Roberto Carlos. He could have played a 4-3-3, but that would have left the flanks exposed, as both Cafú and Roberto Carlos lacked the energy and propensity to do the defensive work to his standard. So he did something no Brazilian manager (with the exception of the brief -- and disastrous -- Sebastião Lazaroni regime) had done: He added a third central defender.
Presto! Cafú and Roberto Carlos felt free to bomb down the wings. The front three worried a little less about tracking back to defend, knowing there were numbers at the back. And Brazil handily won the World Cup. His three-man defense was viewed with suspicion, as was his decision to play a genuine holding midfielder like Gilberto Silva in front of the back three. In hindsight, what he did seems obvious and logical. But, of course, he actually went and did it, persuading the players and, eventually, the media, that it was the right thing to do.
        - Gabrielle Marcotti, "SI"

Q: In a faintly anticipated clash between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge you see Ashley Cole foul Alexander Hleb, play the ball to Frank Lampard, who in turn sets up Michael Essien to score a dream goal. Do you:
a) Simply shrug. These things happen.
b) Seethe inwardly but affect an air of outer calm, that the little Judas will get his in the end.
c) Rail maniacally at the fourth official, knowing absolutely beyond all doubt - from approximately 437 past experiences of reacting in such a manner - that this tactic makes a dog howling at the moon look like a painstakingingly mounted act of rational petition.
Q: A collision with a rival player sees your keeper carried off with a serious head injury. Do you:
a) Say nothing.
b) Express enormous sympathy for him and his family and demand the FA study the replay.
c) Contrive to insult your host club, the Reading ambulance service and the NHS. If you'd have heard of Nye Bevan, he'd have got an earful too.
        - Marina Hyde, with a test for wannabee managers, "The Guardian"


Hoddle 0, Disabled 1 (Hoddle o.g.)
        - Headline from Britain's "The Independent"

In A Past Life, Was Glenn Hoddle Sane?
        - Scotland's Sunday Mail

"I must have been a failed football coach in a previous incarnation."
        - David Blunkett, Britain's first blind Cabinet minister, in The Sunday Times

The FA would remove him tomorrow if they had a spine, but clearly, in former lives, were cruel to jellyfish which is why they have returned as them now.
        - Martin Samuel, The Express

Faith-healing is peculiar enough at the best of times, but applying it to football merits a special league of barking. Why would God bother to perform a miracle that enabled Sol Campbell to yell "Oh holy Jesus, now I can win the ball in the air. It's been five years since I could defend from corners, brothers and sisters, it's a miracle."
        - Mark Steel in The Guardian

Too many times he has used his role to promote his beliefs as a supermarket hippy
        - Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy

Having signed Darren Anderton, does this mean Glenn Hoddle has altered his attitude towards the disabled?
        - Football365 ask a 'Question of the Day'

"I hear Glenn Hoddle has found God. That must have been one hell of a pass."
        - Bob Davies

"It was a titanic effort."
        - Glenn Hoddle, with an apt description of England's 98 World Cup defeat to Argentina


"We invented parliament, abolished slavery, defeated Hitler... we invented football! We can win the bloody World Cup!"
       - Mike Bassett, reassuring the country in "Mike Bassett: England Manager"

"Whichever country you are, if you lose games you are criticised. It’s only when it’s England it’s like a new world war."
        - Sven Goran Erikkson

What the FA needs is an asexual atheist of independent means.
        - Gavin Hamilton, after various scandals befall England managers, "World Soccer Magazine"

Depressingly, it has been a journey from the frying pan to the fridge.
        - David Smith, on England's transition from Keegan to Eriksson, "The Times"

"I've got all the passion, but no idea of tactics. I'd be like a black Kevin Keegan"
        - Ian Wright, when asked if he'd be interested in the England job.

"If he'd been English or Swedish, he'd have walked the England job".
        - Brian Clough's assessment of Martin O'Neill

Faria Alam whined about the invasion of her privacy in yet another lucrative interview earlier this week. There is very good money to be made out of whining about the invasion of your privacy.
        - Rod Liddle, "No one wronged Faria", "The Spectator"

You know what I wonder about? This — the more details of Sven-Göran Eriksson’s love life that appear in the press, the more contempt he attracts for his choice of substitutes in England games. Now, we haven’t done the research, but my guess is that Sven’s performances in the sack and that of his subs on the pitch are not correlated. So why do we link them?
        - Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"

FA Rule Out Sheik-Up.
        - Headline from "The Daily Express"

At the heart of every con trick lies one important truth: you can’t con an innocent person. The sucker must be hooked by means of his own greed, by the deal that’s just slightly too good to be true, by the glorious heady feeling that he’s getting something for nothing.
And that is the core truth of the News of the World’s entrapment of Sven-Göran Eriksson. You can make whatever judgment you like of the newspaper’s tactics; the fact is, they wouldn’t have worked if Eriksson was not (a) greedy and (b) stupid. Without those two inextricably linked character flaws, the famous fake sheikh of tabloid journalism would have had nowhere to put the lever.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times"

You don’t look for jobs. You don’t phone up 10 clubs and say, "Here I am". You are offered the job. I was in Benfica many years ago. I was leaving the training ground and I had a car after me. It went on for 10 minutes. Anyhow, he stopped and I stopped and he said, "I’m from the Italian embassy".
"Ah yes, and what do you want?"
"I want your phone number because Roma wants you as a manager next season."
Three months later I was sitting on the bench in Roma. I don’t think the rest of working society
works like football.
        - Sven Goran Eriksson, on how managers are recruited

They all go the same way, these England managers, and they all go wondering what their crime had been. And when you ask their judges, jurors and executioners, you discover that they don’t know either. Some managers are dismissed, some resign — ’tis all one. The important thing is that they must depart under some kind of duress. We must seem to be doing the expelling. Kevin Keegan went for the crime of tears in the face of the enemy, for trying to be every England player’s new best friend and for the ultimate crime of honesty — for saying dolefully, dramatically and with piercing self-understanding, that he was not up to the job. Glenn Hoddle went for the crime of heresy. This was unusual, but there were previous offences that made the final one terminal. He had betrayed the trust of his players in a grubby little literary exercise, he had annoyed too many people by playing keepy-uppy every time a camera showed itself at an England training session, he had behaved with arrogance without the justification of victory.
Terry Venables went for the crime of fantasy, believing comically that he was a crash-hot business mogul, a renaissance man and a first-class football coach. Only one of those was even remotely true and when his involvement with m’learned friends grew all-engrossing, he, too, had to go.
They all go. Graham Taylor went for the crime of being a decent man found wanting, also for certain capital offences against grammar. Bobby Robson went for the crime of taking England to the World Cup semi-finals. There is no link between the crimes. The only thing in common is the office of the criminal.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times"

In the final days of Glenn Hoddle's time as England manager, as he picked through his players' character defects following an unconvincing victory against Luxembourg, blaming his team, wondering how they could have played so badly, Alan Shearer was reported to have countered, "Have you ever thought it might be you?"
        - Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"

"It is not acceptable that the national coach speaks publicly about replacing another manager while he is in the post." (David O'Leary) Since when does speaking in a hotel room to a journalist with a tea towel on his head constitute 'publicly'?
        - Football365's Mediawatch Bulletin, after Erikkson duped by a fake Sheikh

Perhaps the most notable thing about Sven Goran Erikkson's recent conversations with a "News of the World" reporter pretending to be a sheikh was how knowledgeable the England manager was. Previously, there had been little indication during Sven's five years in charge of the England team that he knew anything about football.
        - Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"

Bobby Robson was a fretful, insecure manager until he was, quite literally, driven mad by the English press. Now that he is mad, he is a very good manager.
        - Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"

"He shouldn't have resigned over that game. It was not a bad performance; in fact it was quite a good one for England. I would not have resigned under those circumstances."
        - Franz Beckenbauer, damning with faint praise after Germany beat England 1-0

"At the Argentina game, how would you have guessed that Darren Anderton would have gone off with cramp?"
        - Kevin Keegan, the only man in football surprised by Darren Anderton going off

"When we went in at half-time, we wanted a Winston Churchill speech. Instead we got Iain Duncan Smith."
        - Unnamed England player recalling England's World Cup defeat to Brazil in 2002

"He displayed all the animated body language of Sven Goran Eriksson."
        - The BBC, describing Andy Murray's meek Wimbledon exit in 2006

"I will not tell Neville to kick Reyes."
"You won't have to."
        - Sven and reporter, at a press conference before England v Spain

There is no universal opinion as to how this England team should play — 3-5-2, 4-4-2, drop Beckham, drop Lampard, shoot Hargreaves — but what is universal is the instruction to England players to start looking like they give a flying kiss about playing for their country. Sam Allardyce? If you want English passion, then Sam's your man. Unfortunately, we also envisage a future of Gary Neville trying to land a long throw onto the head of Peter Crouch.
        - Sarah Winterburn, assessing possible England managers, "Football 365"

Heaping praise on Eriksson and his squad for making it out of group six would be like slapping Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, on the back for securing a place in the Champions League. Add the Fifa world rankings of the top five teams in each European group together and a clearer picture emerges of England’s task. The higher the number, the weaker the group in depth. In reverse order: group two (Ukraine qualified) 171; group one (Holland qualified) 174; group four (one from Israel, Switzerland, France and Ireland) 212; group three (Portugal qualified) 228; group eight (Croatia and Sweden qualified) 237; group five (Italy qualified) 247; group six (Poland and England qualified) 290. In other words, on form, there was an outstanding chance that the runners-up in England’s group would qualify automatically, given the weakness of the opposition.
        - Martin Samuel, on England's qualification for 2006 World Cup, "The Times"

"He's got great credentials by winning the World Cup but he did it with Brazil — my granny could probably have managed Brazil to World Cup success."
        - Gary Lineker, assessing Luis Felipe Scolari

Scolari might point to his CV and his ability to win important football matches, but McClaren, one imagines, may have already made a PowerPoint presentation explaining exactly how Middlesbrough won the Carling Cup.
        - Dion Fanning, contemplating the interview process, "The Irish Independent"

Asking the English press to choose an England manager is like demanding that the SS should have representation on the Israeli Boundary Commission.
        - Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"

Sentences I never thought I would write. (1) That John Prescott certainly has a way with the ladies. (2) Give it to Steve McClaren, he seems like the man for the England job. (3) Peter Crouch is the man to replace Rooney.
        - Martin Samuel, writing in May 2006

Sven's actual results on the park were not quite good enough to make him a hero, and not quite bad enough to get him the sack, so he left the gentlemen of the press with something of a void. And they abhor a void. Soon the discovery that Sven was in fact a hammer-man of legendary proportions filled the void, until the media came to realise that Sven was that rare thing, a man whose astonishing success with women somehow didn't make him more interesting.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Irish Independent"

The combination of an out-of-control tabloid press and a readership that thrills to the destruction of the England head coach is something no other country can offer. Scolari was driven out; Steve McClaren’s personal life made the front pages. Neither of them even held the job. Then there was the fake-sheikhing of Sven-Göran Eriksson. That a newspaper should so brilliantly and deliberately destabilise the national head coach in a World Cup year is something no other sporting nation would consider.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times"

There were moments when I wondered at the gossamer veil that stops licence from being libel. I suspect that taking on the job of England manager puts you outside the protection of the courts. It must be part of the job description that you will be held hostage by media speculation and can have your character tortured, molested and finally executed at the public whim, in exchange for a lifetime’s supply of money.
        - AA Gill, reviewing spoof "Sven: The Coach, His Cash and His Lovers", "The Times"

Sven Goran Eriksson has named a brilliantly mental squad — Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott are there and there is no place for Jermain Defoe or Shaun Wright-Phillips. So we have two injured strikers, one who's never played in the Premiership. And Crouch.
        - Football365 assessed Sven's provisional squad

With the exception of the UK and Ireland, Sweden has the record for most Google searches for 'Theo Walcott'. Anyone might think they were a bit worried.
        - F365 Mediawatch

"It's not logic."
        - Sven, on why he wanted to pick Walcott

"The game must have been past my bed-time."
        - Theo Wolcott, explaining why he missed England v Argentina at WC'98

Walcott’s selection may be painted as exciting radicalism, but it is impossible not to wonder whether Eriksson would have made the same decision had he not been leaving the job in the summer; for him, any comeback if the gamble is a failure will be minimal. This feels like a last throw of the dice. If Rooney does not exist, apparently, it is necessary to invent him, hoping that from untried youth will spring forth another player of such precocious genius. Desperation, it seems, lurks behind the selection... Walcott's inclusion might have been excusable had Jermain Defoe also been selected. The point of Jermaine Jenas has yet to be established.
        - Jonathon Wilson, "The Financial Times"

The squad just isn’t balanced. Is this what happens when Eriksson knows he’s about to be out of a job? He goes crazy? He becomes an irresponsible gambler, playing hunches? In poker terms, he’s gone all-in.
        - Tony Cascarino, "The Times"

England are very light up front. Eriksson’s decision not to include Jermaine Defoe can be declared an error of judgment, regardless of Rooney’s situation. The Swede should have forgone one of his nine midfield players; much will have to go wrong for Jermaine Jenas to get a game.
        - Matt Dickinson, "The Times"

"He has many qualities as a prince, but he is not a surgeon."
        - Sven Goran Eriksson, commenting on Prince William's verdict on Wayne Rooney's fitness

Sven must have neglected to pay tribute to one of those strict Nordic gods. But instead of cursing Eriksson himself, Thor has done a still crueller thing and cursed the England strikers. I can only assume that Eriksson was never informed of this curse, otherwise he might have more than a 17-year-old up his sleeve.
        - Simon Barnes, "The Times", after Michael Owen's injury

Pundits do not necessarily have to be objective, but it would make sense if they occasionally made sense. Suggesting, with a remark that disgraced the BBC, that Owen Hargreaves owed his place "because he knows something about Eriksson's family," must be the final straw. Eriksson's view of Ian Wright's own family has sent him over the edge.
        - F365 on BBC pundit Ian Wright's vendetta against Eriksson for dropping Shaun Wright Phillips

Hargreaves' status in English football can be explained by noting that, on a day when England's supporters chose not to boo the Paraguayan national anthem as is their custom, his introduction was still greeted with a chorus of jeers and whistles.
        - Dion Fanning, "The Irish Independent"

With no one collecting his knockdowns, what was Crouch supposed to do, juggle the ball with his head until the midfield support arrived?
        - Tony Cascarino, after England's disastrous 451 v Croatia, "The Times"

"It was nothing personal: if it had been, I would have left him on so he could have suffered like everyone else."
        - Graham Taylor, on the decision to sub Gary Lineker in his last game versus Sweden

"I have never seen anything like that before. He must have given his last three managers heart attacks. I like to see those sort of things — as long as they come from the other goalkeeper."
        - Terry Venables, England manager when Colmbia's keeper Rene Higuita does a 'scorpion kick'


"He wins championships but he empties grounds."
        - Michael Robinson, on Fabio Capello's dogged style

"We hate Setanta."
        - Chant from England fans at Andorra match; Only Setanta had TV rights to the game

No one has the right to watch football for nothing, rules high court. "But they really, really want to," says prime minister.
        - Seen on The Daily Mash

"I don't know why they sometimes perform nowhere near what they can."
        - Croatian manager Slaven Bilic, just before England finally play as they can

"Has Emile Heskey been involved in all the great England results over the last 10 years?"
        - Richard Clark, spotting a pattern to England victories in an email to F365

Five weeks ago, England were stumbling to a 2-0 victory over Andorra. It was so unconvincing that it was beginning to seem that managing England is an impossible task. Fabio Capello’s record of nine league titles with four different clubs in two different countries in 15 years is unimpeachable. Yet even he seemed perplexed by such perennial chestnuts as whether Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard can play together and where best to deploy Wayne Rooney. And then came Croatia and a 4-1 win in Zagreb that ranks as one of England’s four finest results of the past 20 years... Emile Heskey’s record of five goals in 48 international appearances is hardly prolific but there is more to being a forward in modern football than scoring goals. He is a selfless battler whose physicality creates space for the creators behind him – Walcott, Joe Cole and, most significantly, Wayne Rooney, who was superb in Zagreb. Gareth Barry and Lampard behind them, holder and surger, has a natural fit.  This would mean no place for Gerrard, David Beckham or Michael Owen. That is something England should celebrate: a deep squad is a sign of strength, yet England have contrived to make it a weakness, falling over themselves to squeeze in stellar names at the expense of tactical cohesion.
        - Jonathan Wilson, "FT" (Oct'08)


An ancient English custom has entered a dark new phase. The sacrificial slaughter of the England manager by the press has always been a deeply primitive ritual, with the potential for very ugly scenes. But, until recently, they were restricted to the sacrifice of one manager, and one manager only, at any given time... now will be two England managers to persecute at the World Cup, with Sven's assistant McClaren named as his successor, having already been deemed unfit for the job by the FA, who rejected him in favour of Big Phil. And as Sven's assistant, he will become the first England manager who can be partly blamed for the crimes of his predecessor — the new ways already paying dividends for the gentlemen of the press, who have tired of McClaren long before his actual appointment. May God have mercy on his soul.
        - Declan Lynch, "The Irish Independent"

Every criticism levelled at the England team under successive managerial regimes over the past 40 years, every vain excuse and every empty promise seemed to have been compiled into a smouldering bonfire of hopes and dreams.
        - Richard Williams, after the England team are booed off v Andorra, "The Guardian" (Mar'07)

McClaren now has the rare distinction of becoming the first England manager to have been saved by an injury crisis.
        - Andrew Fifield, as injuries force a balanced team selection for Israel game, "Irish Times"

It is a testament to the fundamental honesty of football that Israel, with nothing to play for, overcame Russia in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The sport has its faults, but this basic trust is the reason Wembley holds 80,000 and could take more and the track and field venue for the London Olympics will be reduced after the event to the same capacity as the home of Wigan Athletic.
        - Martin Samuel, "The Times" (Nov'07)

Sportingly, the fans waited until half-time to boo the players but they could have started a lot earlier.
        - The Independent, covering England 2-3 Croatia (Nov'07)

The players themselves must take their share of the blame, but in football the buck stops with the manager. McClaren's reign was littered with high-profile blunders: his attempt to distance himself from the Sven years by dropping David Beckham, then recalling said midfielder when he was playing for a pub team in Hollywood; backing Paul Robinson when his confidence was shot, then dropping him the moment it returned; experimenting with formation against the strongest opposition in the group. Twice. When faced with crisis against first Russia and then Croatia, McClaren appeared to have only one back-up plan. But the chuck-on-a-load-of-average-strikers-and-lump-it-forward scheme that worked so well for Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup proved less successful at international level.
        - F365 after Steve McClaren is sacked (Nov'07)

They don't even have the self-knowledge to play to their strengths, like a second-rate team such as Greece (the European Champions).
        - Stephen Pollard, describing the England team (Nov'07)

"He is inexperienced but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through."
        - Steve McClaren's description of Wayne Rooney wins him the 2007 "Foot in Mouth" award

England failed because Steve McClaren failed... Have you noticed how good England Under-21 are?
There’s nothing wrong with Steven Gerrard’s technique, or Gareth Barry’s. It’s how they were managed. A coach coaches but a manager picks. Fits the jigsaw puzzle together... Doom-mongers argue that the growing number of foreign players is bad for the English game because home-grown players don’t get chances. The reality is not that English standards are slipping or the quality is too low, but that the Barclays Premier League’s top clubs have raised the bar and can pick from the world’s elite... So it’s logical that only a couple of English players will prove good enough for Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool. Because only a couple of Spanish players are good enough for these clubs, only a couple of French players, only the very best from Africa.
        - Tony Cascarino, "The Times"

Tributes are being paid to Scotland this morning after the entire country laughed itself to death. The alarm was first raised at around 10pm last night as thousands of phone calls and text messages went unanswered. Small groups of volunteers from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and Carlisle ventured north just after midnight only to find houses full of dead people gathered around blaring TV sets. By dawn, as RAF helicopters flew over deserted city streets, it was clear that the whole country had suffered a catastrophic abdominal rupture... Mourners are "opting to leave a simple bag of chips or a deep fried bunch of flowers."
       - Email seen after England are beaten 3-2 by Croatia (Nov'07)

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