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A message to you, Andy

Andy Reid needs to lose at least half-a-stone if he’s not to join the list of footballing also-rans.

Tony Cascarino, 01 Dec 2006

It was great to see Andy Reid back on the score sheet for Charlton against Everton last Saturday. He’s a really talented player, but he still looks at least half a stone overweight.

If I was his manager, I’d haul Andy into my office and say to him, “Son, do you want to be a top class footballer or an average Premiership player who earns a good few quid, but is forgotten the moment he hangs his boots up?”

Forget ‘big framed’ and ‘naturally rotund’, Andy Reid is overweight and playing to nothing like his full potential.

I say this as somebody who in my 20s treated football with contempt. I did just enough in training to get by, but was never super-fit or capable of saying “no” when somebody suggested going for a few pints and a curry.

D-Day came when I was 30 and I realised that unless I wanted to drop down a couple of divisions I was going to have to start behaving like a professional athlete. Thankfully it worked and I kept playing until I was 38, but I still regret wasting those middle years by basically being one of the lads and doing all the wrong things.

I suspect that’s how Andy Reid is living his life too. There are players who, having got a goal like Andy did against Everton, would jog around in training this week and struggle to put a decent performance in the following Saturday. Andy can do an awful lot better than that, but it’s up to him to go for it.

Another Irish player who needs to give himself a good talking to is Paddy Kenny. I’m actually amazed that the story of him having his eyebrow bitten off by a supposed friend didn’t make bigger headlines.

What the hell are you doing Paddy? Like Richard Dunne and Mark Kennedy before him, he needs to turn his life around and realise that he’s being paid 30 grand a week, or whatever it is, not only to play football, but also to stay out of drunken brawls.

Footballers out boozing in public are a magnet for nutters wanting to show off to their mates or their girlfriends. No one remembers their name from the Page 2 ‘Footballer In Disco Punch-Up’ story in The Sun – but they do remember the player’s and you can get a reputation for being trouble that could put a manager right off signing you.

Do all the clubbing you want when you’ve retired from the game, but don’t piss your career away against the wall.

I watched Manchester United .v. Chelsea on the TV in St. Kitts, where I was playing in a poker tournament – I came second! – which shows how global the Premiership’s become.

I couldn’t believe that after sending out an attack-minded team and getting themselves in front, Alex Ferguson went defensive in the second-half and, having conceded the equaliser, settled for the draw by replacing Saha and Ronaldo with O’Shea and Fletcher. The Sir Alex of old would have kept pressing for the winner, which would have given United a six-point advantage over Chelsea in the table.

Bottom line: you cannot shut up shop against a team of Chelsea’s quality.

What Sunday highlighted again is that Man U don’t have the bench they did a few years ago when they were able to bring Sheringham or Solskjaer on and win games that they’d otherwise probably have drawn. It’s that lack of an extra goalscorer, which I think will cost them the title.

Another thing that really annoys me is managers like David Moyes playing with a lone striker. Ask every single forward in the Premiership, “Do you like being up there on your own?” and I guarantee you not a single one will say, “Yes”.

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