Graham's Blog

Darren Anderton: Sheringham, Euro 96 and Eng-Arg 98

In part two of my chat with Darren Anderton, we hear about playing for England at Euro ’96, the indescribable feeling of that summer and the classy midfielder’s involvement in THAT Gazza goal against Scotland. There was the perfect performance against Holland at Wembley which was so sublime that Darren was able to take it all in, even hum along to the singing from the terraces. Compare that with the match against Argentina in France two years later, when an inept Danish referee ended England’s World Cup hopes.

Playing alongside Teddy Sheringham was a joy; he made you look a better footballer because of his brilliantly simple movement and assists. He was a leader, as hard as nails, and could score any goal. You’ll also hear about how Sir Alex Ferguson tried to woo Darren – but his loyalty to Spurs was too strong.

Enjoy

Graham

Darren Anderton: Fathers, Sons and Football

Darren Anderton’s late father Norman, a Motherwell man, was his biggest supporter and his best friend. In gratitude, Darren even tried out for Scotland, but his destiny would be with three lions on his shirt.

Darren was brought up a Southampton fan and played for their academy but was not asked to sign up. Therefore, Dad called up arch-rivals Portsmouth, who watched the lad and signed him as a schoolboy. Manager Alan Ball believed in him and Darren improved immensely.

Darren then played for an attacking Tottenham side alongside guys like Teddy Sheringham, Gheorghe Popescu, Nick Barmby, Jürgen Klinsmann and Vinny Samways. Under Ossie Ardiles but they were too attacking, too open, but Gerry Francis improved the shape. If only they’d have kept that team together, who knows what they could have achieved.

Enjoy

Graham

Paul Burgess: The man who makes the world’s best pitches

My chat with Paul Burgess was ground-breaking, if you’ll pardon the pun, for the Big Interview. Paul isn’t a player or a coach, but one of the world’s leading groundsmen.

In this bonus edition, we hear about how a humble work experience start at his home town’s Blackpool FC led to years spent in charge of the pitches at Arsenal and Real Madrid. Paul has never had a match postponed due to the surface under his watch.

You’ll hear about how Robert Pirès’ performances in season 2001/02 were the best Paul has ever seen, how he got the pitch to be Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles’ twelfth man, and the battle he endured to get buy-in to his cutting-edge techniques when he went to ply his trade at the Bernabéu.

Enjoy seeing football from a different angle in this special Big Interview.

Graham

Sir Alex Ferguson: Big Interview Icon

Welcome to our Big Interview Icons series where we shine a light on a legend whose name has lit up some of the conversations I’ve had with my guests over the last six years of The Big Interview. This episode focuses on Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rio Ferdinand once vented his rage at Sir Alex and was fortunate not to be sold. But he never doubted his genius. Yet there was a flaw to that genius, exposed when he left Manchester United too open in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League final defeats to Barcelona. Rio found the latter defeat particularly embarrassing.

Terry Gibson tells us about how Sir Alex’s arrival at Manchester United was the new broom Old Trafford needed after the lax regime of Ron Atkinson. Terry’s face didn’t fit, but luckily Wimbledon came calling.

Alex McLeish relates how his former Aberdeen boss tried to poach him for Manchester United, while Darren Fletcher provides an amazing insight into a Fergie team talk. He could be unpredictable, but ultimately exuded a calmness which affected his players and filled them with belief.

Lastly, fellow manager Gianluca Vialli speaks of what an inspiration Sir Alex was, and shares with us two golden nuggets of advice he always remembered.

Enjoy

Graeme

Uwe Rösler: The Cult Hero of Maine Road

The English game suited Uwe Rösler, and in part two we hear about how he loved the spacious Maine Road pitch and how the home fans made him feel invincible.

Paul Walsh was a great guy to be around and he was also the perfect partner up front. There was also Steve McMahon, Peter Beagrie, Niall Quinn, Nicky Summerbee, Nigel Clough, and, of course, Georgi Kinkladze – the maestro. If you made the run, he would find you with a pass.

You’ll hear about what it’s like to score a brilliant goal in a Manchester derby at Old Trafford. There was also the agony of relegation, when City played out a draw against Liverpool, not realising that a point wouldn’t be enough to save them.

We chat about Pep Guardiola’s Bayern and City revolutions, and we hear about Uwe’s current managerial role at Fortuna Düsseldorf, where promotion to the Bundesliga is the target.

Thanks, Uwe

Graham