The Joe Royle Column

THIS may surprise a few people but I'm actually FOR the proposed ground-share between Everton and Liverpool.It seems to me to be very practical; for example, Everton at the moment could not afford the new stadium they want and this seems a great opportunity.

THIS may surprise a few people but I'm actually FOR the proposed ground-share between Everton and Liverpool.

It seems to me to be very practical; for example, Everton at the moment could not afford the new stadium they want and this seems a great opportunity.

The plot of land is already there and there is only a park between the two clubs as it is.

You could do two dressing rooms in the appropriate colours so they would always have their own home dressing room.


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They could have their own souvenir shops at opposite sides of the stadium. The planning would have to be acute but it could work.

Whether tradition would stand in the way I don't know, but it is a great idea.

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It works fantastically well in places like Milan and Rome and this is an opportunity for both clubs to have a huge stadium they could both be proud of.

The two sets of supporters have their rivalry but are still close, quite often they are from the same family and they are unique in that, unlike say Glasgow or north London. On Merseyside they will go to games together wearing their own colours, although it has got a little more aggressive in recent years – but that is more down to a change in society than the clubs.

I CAN'T see that Glenn Hoddle was any worse a manager six games into the season than he was when it started. It seems the axe was already over his head.

We have seen ourselves here that after six games we were bottom, but two wins later the fans' perception and the whole feeling changes.

Surely he deserved at least 10 games to see the shoots of recovery come through.

I know Glenn a little as I worked for him when he was England manager and I was his northern scout. I prepared the report on the Italians before the game in Rome, which we needed to draw in to qualify in the World Cup.

He is a deeply private man and what has disappointed me apart from the timing is the lack of dignity.

The whole affair has been handled with no great dignity, especially by the Press.

Also old players, those he has let go, have had a go. The whole thing lacks dignity and you never used to get that.

I hope Glenn's compensation is sorted quickly. I know it has been a traumatic two years for him so in that sense he will want a break but I'm sure he will then want to get back.

At Reading the money issue was sorted very quickly but quite often when managers are sacked the money is not sorted, even a year or so later. While clubs are only too ready to have managers sign contracts and keep them under control, when things turn sour then it is different.

I love the way Arsenal play football and Arsene Wenger's record is magnificent in the seven years he has been there. But the 52 red cards under him is a worry. Apart from bringing close attention to their disciplinary code you have to wonder how much it has actually cost them in terms of points resulting from suspensions.

It is something they need to get hold of. When the chairman Peter Hill-Wood and ex-players like Kenny Sampson and Alan Smith come out and criticise them then they know something needs to be done.

It is a shame because they are smashing footballers and the scenes against Manchester United on Sunday were more down to petulance than outright violence. Nevertheless, in the current atmosphere in football where we are so geared to preventing any sort of crowd incitement, I'm sure something will be done.

In the end it has to be down to the players. I'm sure Arsene doesn't tell them to go out and harangue and harass referees or get themselves sent off. He seems a gentle man but equally you have to wonder as it has happened as often as it has.

Certainly what happened on Sunday was unacceptable and they can't say it was a one-off. It was the same old people involved with Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira top of the list.

They can't claim victimisation; it was there for the nation to see.

What was good to see was Roy Keane easing Vieira away from the trouble scene. Roy has never lost his competitive edge but certainly he has cut down on his common-sense failures.

And that was what Sunday was about, a lack of common sense by people like Keown who should know better. No one was hurt but Keown should not have reacted the way he did in front of Ruud van Nistlerooy, no matter how much bad blood there is between them over the years.

For all that it was not a particularly good game between undoubtedly our best two teams. I noticed during the scuffles Thierry Henry was an onlooker, which is what he was for most of the game – I have never seen him look more ineffective.

Chelsea are making a case and no doubt the red half of Merseyside will say 'Don't forget us' but at the moment United and Arsenal are still out on their own and are playing at a level others can only dream of.

FINALLY, I would just like to wish Paul Danson a speedy recovery and all my best wishes.

You will know Paul was involved in an accidental clash of heads with Crystal Palace's Michael Hughes and was left with a fractured cheekbone and a few teeth missing.

Paul is one of the good guys. He referees with a smile on his face and a lot of consistency and common sense and, like most referees, has got better with age so I wish him well.

Like all referees he is a decent person but again I have to say I'm a bit disturbed at the amount of cards being shown, especially for first offences, and they are actually devaluing skill.

Quite often a foul has come about because a player has beaten an opponent with skill or a change of pace and a booking because the player is beaten can be a bit harsh.

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