The Joe Royle Column

THIS is the time of year where management jobs are going to be coming up and it is no secret Tony Mowbray is looking to take charge of a club in his own right.

THIS is the time of year where management jobs are going to be coming up and it is no secret Tony Mowbray is looking to take charge of a club in his own right.

I was asked if I would be happy to recommend him to Blackpool, who are looking for a new manager now that Steve McMahon has left, and the answer is most definitely yes.

Tony is a first-class coach and has a great way with people and he is admired and respected. No matter what happens here this season he has had a fantastic input working with myself and Willie Donachie.

The buck always stops with the manager but I would never make a major decision without consulting Willie and Tony and I value his opinion highly.


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I would recommend him as a football man and as a person.

He is a very capable coach, is strong on his views and he knows the game and wants to have a go.

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I would strongly recommend him to Blackpool if they want to take a chance on young coach.

If that is what Tony wanted I would back him wholeheartedly, although I would be sorry to see him go.

The great thing about Blackpool is it is very accessible to about 20 league clubs within about an hour and that is very important. The drawback about Ipswich is its location in as much as it takes so long to get to other clubs, you have to use A-roads to get out of the area.

It is difficult for young coaches to get the break. I was fortunate, as I was only out of football a couple of months before I got the Oldham job - even then I was the second choice.

I had applied to places like Blackpool and Peterborough without hearing anything back so I know it is not easy to get your foot in the door.

TALKING of appointments, Paul Merson has taken a less than conventional route to management.

He seemed to have not long got back from rehab in America before he got the caretaker-manager's job at Walsall.

I have long admired him as a player, ever since seeing him as a kid in Arsenal's reserves and he has made me smile when I have watched him.

Now he has stepped into management I would heartily recommend that he gets his backside away and get all the badges he can this summer because he will find it a lot harder next year after a season when he is tired.

He should get ready for grey hair and he should give his wife a current photo as she won't get to see him very often at all now.

THOMAS Gaardsoe was voted the West Brom player of the year and I have already sent a well-done telegram to him.

He is a lovely big man and now he gets his chance to take his talent forward to a bigger stage.

The money we got for him was more than useful but it was not a money-driven decision to let him go.

I wanted to get to a back four to give us a better shape and Thomas is better in a three at the back.

It is quite likely that West Brom will be the only team to play with three at the back in the Premiership and clever forwards like Thierry Henry will want to get off their deathbeds to play against a back three.

In the Premiership the forwards are that bit cleverer, that much faster and bigger and stronger.

There will be a new challenge every week for Thomas, but good luck to him, and I sincerely wish him all the best.

UNTIL we know the full facts about the situation between Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp I don't want to say too much about it.

What I will say though is that it is a shame for the Pompey fans that some of the gloss has been taken off their achievement. Harry and Jim (Smith) have had a fantastic season because they were one of the favourites to go down but they are above more illustrious clubs like two of my old sides, Manchester City and Everton.

ONLY Sven Goran Eriksson will know what squad he is going to pick for Euro 2004 but as an England fan I would love to see Gareth Barry given a chance on the left.

My choice in midfield would be Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard and Barry.

I look at Steven Gerrard at the moment and find it hard to see a better midfielder in Europe. I once enquired about Gerrard when I was at Manchester City and he was a young kid who played a half against us in a pre-season friendly, and was politely told to go away.

They knew even then he was going to be special and when you see his power and ability to score goals then you can see why.

I hear Sven is thinking of putting him on the left but please Sven don't. I would dearly love to see him in the midfield.

As for Gareth Barry, he has been found wanting a little as a left-sided defender since moving to Villa from Brighton but as a left-sided midfielder he can shine. He has a very capable left foot, like Alan Thompson he is not the quickest, but he is a strong boy and he is worth a chance.

I'm also a big fan of Kieron Dyer and Paul Scholes but Kieron has injury problems.

As for Scholes, well, when I was England scout in the north after leaving Everton, I was strongly recommending him for the England squad. But it is now such a long time since he scored. He's also another loose midfielder who doesn't track back and does give away silly free-kicks. There is no doubt he is an inventive talent but I would see him as loose forward.

Unfortunately it is probably too late for Robert Green to go to Euro 2004 but really he should have been given his chance against Sweden.

There will be other opportunities for Green and I'm sure he will be given plenty of chances in the Premiership to showcase his talent.

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