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Still Getting His Kicks
With his debut album about to hit the racks, football legend Paul McGrath talks to Jackie Hayden about music, how soccer has lost its physical side, the fate of the current Irish team, his bust up with Alex Ferguson, the contrasting managerial styles of Giovanni Trapattoni and Jack Charlton, John Fashanu breaking his teeth, Norman Whiteside climbing out windows, and laughing at Vinnie Jones.
Jackie Hayden, 07 Oct 2011
How did you get on with him?
Very well, after the initial settling-in period that you have to do with any new manager.
Trapattoni doesn’t seem to have captured the hearts of the Irish people the way Jack did.
Well, there are probably several reasons for that. There’s the language problem. We could understand Jack, most of the time (laughs), and his straight-talking personality appealed to the Irish fans. We had never enjoyed any real kind of national success before he arrived on the scene, like getting to the finals of major championships. He was bound to be a national hero. Those successes have made it harder for anyone who follows him. We have higher expectations now.
Are there any new comers to the team you think will be major players over the next five, ten years?
Well, I’d keep an eye on James McCarthy for one. He’s only about 20. I think he’s got bags of potential.
Would you fancy the manager’s job yourself?
(Laughs) No, not at all, Jackie. I don’t have the ability to shout and scream abuse at players and bully them the way you have to when you take on that kind of responsibility. I wouldn’t be able to deal with all those egos either.
How intense does it get in the dressing-room at half-time if a team isn’t playing too well?
Oh, it can get really intense, believe me (laughs).
In what way?
You could have a manager sticking his face right up to yours and literally screaming at you, calling you all the names in the world. Sometimes it can be really humiliating. There’s nothing you can do about it. You have to learn how to take it. It’s part of your job, and it’s his job to get the most out of you. You also have to consider the possibility that the manager who’s shouting at you and spitting in your face might actually be right, that maybe you deserve it and need it to get your game sorted out.
Did that happen to you?
Of course. It happens to every player.
And does anybody ever answer back?
Well, I did on one occasion. That was with Alex Ferguson at Man U.