The Joe Royle Column

LAST week's debacle with the FA highlights the need for Mark Palios to act quickly and decisively. The FA need to sit down and draw up a battle plan to devise a structure and set of rules to which they can refer and adhere to.

LAST week's debacle with the FA highlights the need for Mark Palios to act quickly and decisively. The FA need to sit down and draw up a battle plan to devise a structure and set of rules to which they can refer and adhere to.

I know Mark, the chief executive, a little and I like him a lot, and whether he was wrongly advised or didn't take advice, he will learn from the Alan Smith debacle.

It made the Association look amateurish when they are usually world-renowned.

But also the police don't come out of this smelling of roses.

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It was foolish and we did say at the time there could be repercussions from it, but I expected football repercussions, not civil or police action.

It seems a total over-reaction by them to arrest someone throwing a plastic bottle which didn't hurt anyone, and those it hit accepted the apology and everyone seemed happy to let it drop.

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Worse things happen in the street all the time without an arrest, so we need to have a sense of balance about it.

This is another for the Minister of Common-Sense but the Yorkshire Police don't come out of it very well.

The time taken, the manpower, the paperwork, all seems to be akin to taking a sledge-hammer to crack an egg.

But the FA need to ensure it doesn't happen again by setting out clear guidelines.

As for the game itself, it showed what I have suspected for a while. And that is we are not as good as some of our results might have shown in the past and the Danes did look better than us.

We did score goals, which without Michael Owen was my biggest fear, but with Sol Campbell and a fully-fit Gary Neville, we did not look right at all.

And for a country that has prided itself on world-class goalkeepers the position is not as strong as it has been in the past.

There is no doubt that David James is a very good keeper, and Paul Robinson might well be even better one day, but at the moment the position is not as strong as it has been in the past.

Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence used to share the position, and the great Gordon Banks before them. Then we have had David Seaman, the big sensible sentinel, for so many years.

We do need either James or Robinson to really grasp the position.

Finally, on a personal note, well done to Thomas Gaardsoe - it was terrific to see him recognised by his country. He is a lovely man and a talented player who served this club well.

WE were robbed a few times in derby games when I was with Everton but I have never experienced the sort of thing Matt Holland and his Irish team-mates went through on Sunday when their hotel was robbed.

I'm glad they weren't involved in anyway and no-one got hurt. You don't expect that sort of thing in a Dublin hotel, but I feel football was incidental and they just happened to be there when the robbery took place and it was unique. I have also played a couple of times when the dressing rooms were rifled while we have been playing - it happened in Holland once but we were never physically robbed as such.

BLADES are causing a bit of concern among a few managers I see and I have noticed here at Ipswich most of the players prefer to use them instead of studs.

You have to leave it to the players themselves which they prefer. I don't feel from what I have seen that they are as sure-footed as the old-fashioned studs are. On the other hand the pitches are a lot firmer now than they used to be.

Pitches are sand-based and hard-wearing and if players are happy with blades you can't argue with them. If one of them slips up and a goal results due to that then I may say something, but on the whole you can't argue with a player about what he wants to wear.

When I was a kid I had a pair of boots that had a bar on them, like strips of leather. Then when I played I played in long studs all the time unless it was icy.

These days of course the players are all sponsored and it is down to the manufacturers who guide them and as we all know change is necessary to sell things and the latest fad is blades.

The worry is they cause bigger cuts because the surface is longer than studs but so far there is no evidence and no doubt the boot-makers will come up with statistics that tell us otherwise.

THE Dutch have done it again and made my life a misery in the process. I'm talking about them losing to Scotland last weekend, and with England losing, it made Willie Donachie the happiest Jock in Christendom.

I had to drive all the way back from the north-west with him in the car on Sunday evening and I have to hold my hands up and say the Scots were magnificent and led up front by my old mate Paul Dickov, deserved the win.

They have not got one player that would get in the Dutch squad, yet they showed the importance of teamwork and beat the mighty Dutch.

They don't help themselves and virtually beat themselves with all the in-fighting.

I see Patrick Kluivert said he couldn't play alongside Ruud Van Nistlerooy which is the last thing the manager wants to hear. Don't tell Willie but (I would have been) (I am) quite happy that Scotland qualified, even though he will give me a terrible time.

STAN Collymore really is not like the image he portrays on the pitch and it would be interesting to see how he got on at Southend.

I tried to sign him when he left Nottingham Forest and I was impressed with him. He was not disinterested or arrogant. In fact, he was a very intelligent articulate man.

Whether he has been out too long as a player is yet to be seen, although at the level he would be coming back to as a player, if he were to get fully fit, he would still be able to score goals.

It would also be great to see if he has managerial ability and he would be cutting his teeth at a club he already knows and where he is held in great affection.

COME on England. The Missus was bringing me bacon butties last week as I watched the semi-final win over France and it was fantastic. Even though we have a game this Saturday I shall be up bright and early again to watch our boys.

If Jonny Wilkinson wants a job in football after he is finished playing rugby he should not have any problems.

If he can kick the oval version as well as he does, he won't have a problem with the round one.

Congratulations to Jonny, Clive Woodward, Martin Johnson et al. We are all very proud of you here and I'm sure you will bring home the bacon on Saturday.

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