The Joe Royle Column

I WOULD neither defend nor condemn the Leicester City players arrested in La Manga at this stage. Too many people have already gone off the deep end. What started off as nine people in trouble, has already gone down to three and I hear that could go down to two.

I WOULD neither defend nor condemn the Leicester City players arrested in La Manga at this stage. Too many people have already gone off the deep end. What started off as nine people in trouble, has already gone down to three and I hear that could go down to two.

The warnings about young people and alcohol are there loud and clear. You have to forget if they are footballers, if you go to Falaraki, or Torremolinos or many other holiday places, you will see behaviour at least on a parallel of what we are being led to believe has happened in La Manga.

I know Paul Dickov personally and he is a fine lad. I feel for him and his family about what is going on.

So I would plead, on the back of media frenzy, that people don't jump to the conclusion that they are automatically guilty.


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I also feel for Micky Adams. We were fortunate at Ipswich that we went a way for a few days and had no such problems.

But you always have to be aware when there is alcohol and young people, all sorts of things happen.

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As for Leicester and their relegation battle, this incident could go one of two ways for them.

I feel it will give them a siege mentality. The biggest worry football-wise is when the three who are incarcerated will be allowed to play again. At the moment they are doing nothing, losing fitness and will be mentally exhausted when they come out.

But the people I feel for most are the families involved - this will be hard for all of them.

HOW wonderful it is that a Nationwide team will play in Europe next season no matter what.

The FA Cup draw means at least one will get to the final and with Manchester United and Arsenal already in the Champions' League for next season, any one of three so-called minnows will qualify for the UEFA Cup and that is terrific.

I know Tranmere very well. They have had hard times financially for a long time but whatever the reason they have had a great history in the FA Cup. I don't know why history plays such an important factor in the cup with certain teams but it does and Tranmere have a knack of doing well in the cup.

Mind you, and perhaps I'm being a bit selfish here. I can't see me losing the tag of being the last English manager to win the FA Cup. No disrespect to Brian Little, Dennis Wise or Mick McCarthy, I can see the next winning boss being French or Scottish.

I watched Arsenal demolish Portsmouth on Saturday and they were awesome. I also watched a video of Norwich v West Brom and you have to say Arsenal are playing a different game than the rest of us at the moment.

That is not a backhanded knock at either West Brom or Norwich, they are where they are deservedly so because they have accumulated the points, but you see the problems that whoever goes up this season will have.

Arsenal can take three players off like Vieira, Ljungberg and Henry, and just carry on as normal. Whereas Portsmouth, who went up and have changed their personnel and quadrupled their wages, could not get near them.

We spoke last week about Arsenal going the season unbeaten and I said they couldn't, but after seeing that I'm in danger of changing my mind.

To watch the precision, the running power and passing was awesome. That shows what happens when you assemble a team of fine athletes who can play and want to work for the team.

TALKING of awesome I thought the Portsmouth fans were magnificent in the way they got behind their team, even at 5-0 down.

When I was at Manchester City we had a similar experience with Arsenal. They were 4-0 up in no time at all and although we rallied and missed chances we lost by four but by the end there was a certain amount of gallows humour but throughout had stayed to cheer us on to the end.

All the booing and hissing in the word was not going to turn Portsmouth into a team capable of winning so they got behind them.

We have spoken many times about the fans here at Portman Road in the game against Sheffield United when we were down to 10 men and they got behind us and cheered us on to a victory.

There is no doubt the Ipswich supporters can play their part in helping us, particular in the run-in.

IT was interesting to see the FIFA top 125 as chosen by Pele and the way people agreed and disagreed with some of the choices.

I have been asked by Channel 4 to choose my all-time England team, but from players that I have seen or played alongside.

I won't give it away and spoil the programme but there are no current England players in it and I'm sure people will have their views on my selection.

When selecting it I was chatting to Willie Donachie and we got around to Scotland it got us thinking what a difficult job Bertie Vogts has got.

He is getting almighty stick but when Willie and I wrote out our best-ever Scotland team, which included Andy Goram, Danny McGrain, Billy McNeill, Alan Hansen and Willie Donachie. You could have George Burley, Billy Bremner, Graeme Souness, Eddie Gray, Jimmy Johnson, Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law - and you see the problems Bertie has got.

It reminds me of what a psychologist once told me about an experience he had while coaching a basketball team and were getting trounced in New York by this team who were just bigger and better.

He was told don't worry about it, after all you can't make a chicken salad out of chicken droppings.

Because no matter how much coaching, organisation, or whatever Bertie does with the Scotland team, he does not have one player who would get anyway near a best Scotland side in the past 20 years.

But as in all these choices it is about individual opinion and that is what makes this game of ours so fascinating and controversial.

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