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"I jump into a sand pit for a living"

Jonathan Edwards, World record triple-jumper

Fast Forward

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Andrew Cole, London, Hodder and Stoughton 2020. ISBN 9781529304954

The autobiography of Andy (Andrew) Cole is a good read. He expresses opinions and analyzes situations. Well above average as a football autobiography.

He played for Arsenal, Bristol City, Newcastle United, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers but it is for his time at Manchester United (1995-2001) that he will be remembered.

His account of the transfer from Newcastle to Manchester United is fully recounted, how Newcastle wanted to sell him but needed to appease the fans with a narrative that Cole had forced the move.

He describes how his game had to change at Manchester United: “At Newcastle I’d been the main man, and I was used to one way of playing. Make my runs, explode into space behind defenders and get in that way. Now I was being asked to be an all-round striker. I had to link play, play with my back to goal, yes, get on the end of things, but also add to my game. Brian Kidd worked and worked with me as I tried to become a better footballer”.

He assesses the managers he played under:

Graeme Souness had “a constant need to show everyone who was boss”.

Kevin Keegan: “a good motivator”.

Glenn Hoddle: “Glenn wasn’t the best communicator. He wasn’t particularly good at transmitting his messages to the players”.

Alex Ferguson, however was head and shoulders above all the others. He draws out Ferguson’s greatness in comparison with other managers: “I won’t apologise for using Sir Alex Ferguson as an example of how to manage, because he was the best I worked with, and the gaffer was brilliant at making you feel you could do anything. He really could communicate and with his words in your ear, you’d feel million dollars. That’s man-management. Glenn Hoddle lacked those skills… That was Ferguson’s genius. He managed the individual. He got players. Yes, football is a team game, but the boss had this gift for working with the different characters within it. That That the big difference between Alex and Kevin Keegan. Kevin was a great motivator of football teams, but Alex could work with individuals”.

He also describes the secret of the successful Manchester United team: “The gaffer would tell the team, ‘Just get the ball to the forwards, and let them get on with it. They’ll win the game.’ That wasn’t true, but we did play with pace – don’t over-pass (the gaffer went mad if we overpassed), get the ball in the opposition’s last third and chances will come”.

Of the epic win in the Champions’ League over Juventus in Turin from 0-2 down, he writes: “That‘s where the team spirit, the team ethic, kicks in again. There’s a long way to go, any thoughts of self-pity must be killed; there is still a game be won”.

Other interesting content includes:

• His analysis of the great central defenders of his time – Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, Colin Hendry, Chris

Fairclough, Sol Campbell and Des Walker

• Playing with Teddy Sheringham but never speaking to him.

• His telepathic relationship with Dwight Yorke

• A story of Paul Elliott recommending an agent to him for his move to Newcastle and screwing him.

Elliott comes out badly

• Racism in football

He writes: “Sunday was all about church and Sunday school” and refers to praying when his nephew was in prison but says nothing else about faith

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