The Joe Royle Column

LET me start with a huge 'well done' to Colchester United for taking First Division Coventry City's scalp in the FA Cup.Phil Parkinson has done a tremendous job with a small squad and limited resources in his first full season and they deserve their success.

LET me start with a huge 'well done' to Colchester United for taking First Division Coventry City's scalp in the FA Cup.

Phil Parkinson has done a tremendous job with a small squad and limited resources in his first full season and they deserve their success.

This season is probably their best cup run since they beat Leeds United back in 1971 before they played us (Everton) at Goodison Park, where, ahem, I scored that day.

As our neighbours it is only right that we should support Colchester and get behind them all we can so I wish them all the best up at Sheffield United and before that against Southend United in the LDV Vans Trophy.


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FORTUNATELY the 'new' offside rule has been thoroughly explained to me and I have a grasp of it but it has been made far too complicated.

When the law changed and it meant the attacking player who was level was now onside, which favoured the attacking team and led to more goals, it was a good thing.

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But now even though you look off you are on, then you are on when you are off, then on and on, and the next thing you know there is a goal.

While there can be too much tampering with the laws of the game, in this case it needs simplifying so everyone knows who is on or off.

KNOWING Richard Ryder as I do as a passionate Ipswich Town fan and vice president of the club I was delighted to see him step up as caretaker-chairman of the BBC in the wake of the Lord Hutton enquiry.

He is a good man and good politician so it seems an entirely sensible appointment after Gavin Davies resigned.

But I can't help feeling for Greg Dyke, who also resigned as the director general, he seems to have been made something of a scapegoat. It was good to see his popularity shown by all the people there.

I get the feeling this whole thing will run and run, as there has not been the anticipated reaction from the public in support of the Government over this, while there is great sympathy for Greg Dyke.

I suppose if you are the head of a company which is found wanting then perhaps you feel you have to fall on your sword but it is a shame.

As I say I'm sure there is a lot more to come on this so I won't say too much more although the Government must be delighted with the outcome and Tony Blair will have gained a new nickname, Houdini, after this.

THE subject of a winter break came up again when the Premier League chairmen agreed in principle to the possibility after listening to Sven Goran-Eriksson's thoughts on the matter.

I'm rather ambivalent about a break and will wait and see how it pans out.

There does not appear to be a great benefit to seven days' complete rest. There is nothing to stop you giving players three or four days off between games; Brian Clough used to do it at Forest, they won on Saturday and didn't come back in for training until Thursday.

That is something we are looking closely at now as rest is as important as training with the amount of games we have coming up.

Mind you players don't play as many games as we used to as there are now just 38 Premier League games and the clubs who have internationals rotate anyway. When I was at Oldham I can remember Earl Barrett playing more than 60 games in a season while many Premiership players only play in about 30 these days.

But if that is what the powers that be want to try then let us try it. We won't know until we do.

LIKE the players my rest time off is precious. There may not be the same physical output as them but it is tiring so me and my staff need our rest too.

That is why I have not been watching the African Cup of Nations. There is no point.

Quite honestly, we won't be buying players for quite some time. Even if we had the money I would have to think long and hard before bringing someone in directly from Africa.

This club had a small taste with Finidi George and at Manchester City we had George Weah and all the time the African Nations Cup is on when it is, and every two years, it is a big risk. Especially if they come straight from Africa with the time it takes for them to adapt.

There is still some great talent coming out of Africa, you look at Kanu and Jay Jay Okocha, even a young Finidi and George Weah, but they do need to stop off somewhere else in Europe first.

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