The Joe Royle column

I CAN'T imagine Reading holding on to Alan Pardew for much longer. John Madejski is a nice and honourable man and has not welcomed the approaches from West Ham but equally – once the manager has made it clear he would like the opportunity to talk to the Hammers, then he should not stop him.

I CAN'T imagine Reading holding on to Alan Pardew for much longer. John Madejski is a nice and honourable man and has not welcomed the approaches from West Ham but equally – once the manager has made it clear he would like the opportunity to talk to the Hammers, then he should not stop him.

John must think, if Alan wants to go there, then what good is he to Reading? Does he really want Alan to be at Reading under sufferance?

I can see both sides: Reading have come a long way in a short time and John will think they are on the verge of great things but no matter what, Reading will never be as big a club as West Ham.

They may have a super stadium and good players but you can't buy tradition.

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The other thing to look at is freedom of contract. If managers can be readily sacked, why can't they have the freedom to break a contract like a journalist, a joiner, a plumber or whatever, if they are offered a better job elsewhere?

I hope it is resolved soon but I doubt he will go before the two clubs meet this weekend. It is amazing how these fixtures get thrown up.

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It takes me back to my first game back as Everton manager and as fate would have it that game was against Liverpool.

ARTIM Sakiri's 'death threats' to David Beckham last week put me in mind of when I played for Everton against Panathinaikos in the quarter-final of the European Cup.

We were 1-0 down at Goodison Park after a poor performance and all the Greek players kept saying 'back in Athens you will die'.

I didn't think they meant it literally until we got back to their place. We had equalised in the last minute and their keeper had got injured in the process. The hatred and bile which awaited us in Athens was incredible.

The fans met us at the airport, they savagely rocked the coach while we were in it. They then drove motorbikes round and round the hotel all night to keep us awake.

To get a nil-nil in the end was a creditable result as we were spat on, had our hair-pulled and were punched off the ball.

It appears when you go to places like Turkey and Greece they have a different culture and what is not acceptable here is accepted there and you have to take that into consideration.

It would probably be a bit harsh for Sakiri to face a hearing.

As a player I was not bothered by what people said to me, I was more worried about the quiet ones because the real hard men in football did not announce what they were going to do, you just found yourself on your back.

I see there has been another bung allegation against Greece, this time made by Albania, maybe there is nothing in it, we won't know until the investigation, but all these accusers can't be wrong.

WE also have the strange situation at the moment where the England manager is telling fans not to follow their country but people need to listen.

I don't want to upset any Turkish compatriots but there is a difference in culture and attitude, which makes it sound advice not to travel there.

People that do go must half want to be involved in trouble. While there will always be England fans who want to see their team, I just worry the wrong people will go there.

In this case you need to be a little careful. I know there will be a lot of fans who will be feeling hard done by, and perhaps we're paying for past misdemeanours.

I know I sound like an old bore but I can remember the days when fans were integrated and you bought each other a cup of tea at half time and actually applauded the opposition.

But that has gone now, society has changed and we have to make allowances for that.

That said, the international at Ipswich last month was a throwback to the good days when fans did mix and it was a sportsman-like occasion and perhaps a lesson for other grounds. The fans deserve a pat on the back for that.

I hear Tony Banks has suggested banning national anthems and it is not the daftest idea I have ever heard.

I'm a patriot and I have stood up listening to the national anthem with pride but if it is a flash-point and it helps, then do it.

The anthem was immaculately observed by both sets of supporters here at Portman Road recently when England played Croatia but we are talking about a different culture. I don't know what the Turkish equivalent to Ipswich would be but I would dare to suggest it doesn't exist.

The Turks will want the hostility and the atmosphere at their place to help them get the result they want.

What will be important is the referee, the appointment has not yet been made but I pray that it is Pierluigi Collina.

THERE is always a lot of interest which accompanies a player transfer, especially among the big five, but rarely has a chief executive's move stirred things up the way Peter Kenyon's move from Manchester United to Chelsea has.

You never know if Peter was unhappy at United or he was just plain head-hunted. He has a great reputation as a chief executive and while Sir Alex and the players get all the plaudits for winning titles, and rightly so, you have to acknowledge the contribution of a terrific chief executive and Chelsea have done that.

The conspiracy theorists may look and wonder why they have taken Kenyon and then throw in the Sven-Goran Eriksson factor again but one thing is certain, if Claudio Ranieri wins the league or FA Cup then he will be the manager next season.

It is not just the best players that Chelsea are after, they want the best of everything. Somewhere in the country they will find who does the best food and head hunt the chef – but they can't have our Wendy.

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