The Joe Royle Column

IT is interesting to see officials have seen fit to change the referees' regime and Philip Don has gone. I must admit whenever I have met Philip he seems a perfect gentlemen and I like him.

IT is interesting to see officials have seen fit to change the referees' regime and Philip Don has gone. I must admit whenever I have met Philip he seems a perfect gentlemen and I like him.

He once phoned me at Manchester City to apologise for someone's refereeing performance, which was quite revolutionary at the time.

But there is no doubt there has been so much criticism of our refereeing regime that change was right.

I did speak to two Premier League referees over the weekend and they both feel there will be a moderation of attitudes and that there will be a better chance for the personality referee to start managing the game rather than refereeing by yellow cards.

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I thought Dermot Gallagher, who took charge of our game at Preston, was outstanding. He is one of our older, more established referees. He let the game flow, didn't book every tackle and came off the pitch with a smile which was excellent.

I make no apologies for mentioning Mr Collina again but in Europe even the referees not as good as him seem to get through games without panicking every time a tackle is made.

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But now that the change has been made and we hopefully will see a change in attitude that has to be reciprocated by the players.

They have to respect the officials and now that the profession has been given what it has been calling for, then I hope there will be no more haranguing of officials.

WHAT on earth was Alan Smith thinking about when he threw that bottle back into the crowd on Tuesday?

I can understand Smithy's frustration at the moment with everything that is happening at Leeds United but there is no excuse for that, it is totally irresponsible and there will be serious repercussions for him, especially in the current climate.

You can tell by his whole body language of late how things have been getting to him and to be beaten by Manchester United reserves would have upset him even more and I feel the bottle-throwing was more frustration and foolishness than any violent intent.

This is the last thing my mate Peter Reid needs right now and an added problem after the results of their finances were announced with them making a £50m loss last financial year.

Like most people I was surprised to hear how many of their players are leased.

It is very much a financial manoeuvre and I have not heard of it before.

Many years ago when I was at Oldham a private punter bought a player and we paid his wages but when he was sold on the investor made a 50% profit on the sale.

This Leeds thing is another example of big business getting into football, just like companies leasing aircraft.

But to make such a loss for Leeds and to be £78m in debt shows what a mess Leeds are in and should they be relegated with that sort of debt then the fall will be even bigger than ours.

Peter is seeing the same as we did, the power of players' contracts, the collapse of the transfer market, unless Chelsea are interested in one of their players.

Look at Mark Viduka, talked about as a £30m target last year, he won't be worth a fraction of that now.

These are hard times and I feel for Peter. And then to get knocked out of a potentially money-making competition by United reserves will really hurt.

WHAT a lovely story that was about the non-league side in Portsmouth who went on a winning run after their players decided to wear items of clothing from their partners.

I can assure you that Mr Royle has not been wearing any of Mrs Royle's underwear during our unbeaten streak.

There are many stories of superstitions in football but I can't say I know of any cases of cross-dressing, although Mrs Beckham did say David likes to wear her knickers.

Dear old Don Revie was extremely superstitious and once had all the soles of the players' boots painted red because he thought Elland Road was cursed.

Many players have routines, being last out of the dressing room, as our Pablo insists on, which boot goes on first, that sort of thing and it usually goes back to when they have had a good game.

But as far as I'm aware, and I have not yet got round to asking the lads about them wearing partners' undies, that doesn't happen here and certainly not by the manager.

IT has been pointed out that I don't seem to have a great regard for manager of the month awards.

Don't get me wrong, if I were to win it I would embrace it because it means we are winning games.

And if it does happen I will take it with a smile and share it with the staff.

But really it is about players. No one has ever won manager of the year without good players.

I accept managers choose the players and work in the right way and play for you but believe me, nothing different is being done to six weeks ago.

The thing I can't understand is I've not done anything different now than I was doing when we were bottom of the table.

The manager of the month award infers the manager is doing something different to have a great month and I just don't go with that theory.

Sometimes it is hard to win manager of the month. Take for instance the Carlisle manager, who will have his work cut out to keep them up and in doing so would be worthy of manager of the year but it won't be recognised because he won't have a string of Ws next to his team's name.

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