MadDog Martin Allen Does Some Gardening

There’s plenty to be doing out in the garden at this time of year.
If you store your apples properly, you’ll be able to enjoy them throughout the winter. Autumn is the time for harvesting apples as they need to be picked and stored before the first frosts.
Former City-manager Martin Allen will have plenty of time to do this sort of thing as he has been placed on ‘gardening leave’ by Cheltenham Town while they investigate an incident outside a nightclub.

martin allen

According to the Gloucestershire Echo:  “The 44-year-old reportedly launched a foul-mouthed tirade against doorstaff who refused to let him into Thirteen Degrees in St George’s Road, Cheltenham. Mr Allen is alleged to have called bouncer Garry Saintil a “black bastard” and has now been banned from the nightclub. 
Thirteen Degrees’ manager witnessed the racial abuse and says that Mr Allen also mocked his staff over how little they earned compared to him.
The incident, during which Mr Allen was trying to jump a queue of 60 people, was partly captured on CCTV until Mr Allen retreated to the other side of the street and reportedly challenged Mr Saintil to a fight. The alleged outburst comes four months after Mr Allen was barred from the The Salisbury, in Montpellier Street, after allegedly dropping his trousers and parading in front of pub-goers.”

The FOX interviewed Martin Allen during his short reign at Filbert Way in 2007…

FOX: You retired at 32, which suggests you retired early…

MA: Yes it was down to wear and tear on my knees. Partly because of all that long-distance running on roads I did when I was young, and also five years on astroturf at QPR which was very damaging, especially with the amount of running and changes of direction I had to do because of the position I played. My knees just couldn’t take it and it was painful by the end. I had an operation to try and get it right but it never worked. Since then I’ve had one more operation where they realigned my leg, put in a wedge of something, from someone, or somewhere… don’t ask no questions. I don’t know what it is inside my knee but something is in there. Now it is okay. I can’t really play or join in training anymore. I can’t play in any practice or charity games because if I do mess it up then the next stage is a plastic knee, which I don’t really want. 

FOX: That must have been tough to deal with at 32…

MA: It’s a nightmare scenario when you finish your football career after 10 or 12 years of your life. It dawns on you that you have got to start all over again. How many people at that age have to have a complete new start in life? You’ve got to pay the bills. During a football career – although we didn’t earn a huge amount of money then but it was very good money – it was like there was a tree down the bottom of the garden that had golden pieces of fruit on it. Every month you could go down there and pick them off and have whatever you wanted. When your career finishes you go down there and discover that someone has taken your tree away. Now you have got to go out there, perhaps for the first time outside football, and earn yourself some money.
I don’t care who you are, to be told at 32 that you have to take a completely new direction in life, and you’ve got to pay your mortgage next month, it’s a tough call.
You’d be surprised how many footballers go through depression, marriage crisis, alcoholism, gambling… there are an awful lot. I wrote to the PFA voicing my concerns about how hard it is to pick yourself up off the floor once the game has finished with you. As a footballer you can be revered, you can have certain advantages and benefits, and then all of a sudden there is nothing there for them. The telephone stops ringing.
At the same time I was coming to terms with that I was going through a divorce as well. The divorce rate among footballers is extraordinarily high. It was a tough time. I found myself living in a one-bedroomed flat, just about getting by, doing people’s gardens. People laugh and question that, but it’s a fact. I went on courses funded by the PFA and I was scouting for two different football clubs, though neither knew I was scouting for the other. I went to as many football matches as I could, watching as many players as I could. One night I got a telephone call from Alan Pardew asking me if I wanted to be first team coach at Reading. That came on a Thursday night after I had spent the entire day collecting up leaves and putting them into black bin bags. On the Saturday we played Colchester at home and won 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium in front of 4,700 people. They hadn’t won for about ten matches and there was a strong possibility that they were going to get relegated. It felt fantastic, getting that job at my home town club.
I learnt a lot from Alan and I will always be indebted to him for that opportunity he gave me. We were good for each other at that period of time. I think he needed my type along with him. Then we got to that time when I think he knew I wanted a job of my own and my own way.
Then I was out of work for a bit and went to Barnet where I worked for seven months without being paid. I just wanted the opportunity to work and coach. I was still doing bits and pieces of gardening to keep a bit of money coming in for myself. The hours I was working was incredible. I was collecting leaves and doing people’s gardens before training. Then I was training at Barnet, then coming back in the afternoon for more gardening, then back to the flat, get in the shower and then every night of the week I’d be out watching matches. More matches on Saturdays and Sundays. Gradually I was picking up ‘The Knowledge’. Finding players, writing it all down, getting it all in ready for when I got an opportunity.
Peter Shreeve got the Barnet job and appointed me as coach. Then he had a fall out with the chairman and I got the job. On my very first day I put the top goalscorer in the division on the transfer list and then sold him to Bristol Rovers. A few people thought I was mad but I didn’t think he was a team player. I wanted a team not a star.
I had seven games until the end of the season to keep the job. I only lost one and he gave me the job. 
It was a magical time at Barnet. The players did really well for me, and for themselves. A lot of them moved on because they were capable of playing league football. I enjoyed my time there but when that opportunity came to join Brentford it was a two division jump which is a big thing at any level of management. I loved my time at Barnet and had a great relationship with the chairman and the chief executive was an absolute diamond running everything on a shoestring, and I learnt so much there. A lot of those things I have carried with me.
Brentford – it was unbelievable what happened there. They hadn’t won for god knows how many matches. On the first day I called the players together and put up a list of 18 players I would be training with. I told the rest they would be training on the other pitch. I told the star player and crowd favourite that he wouldn’t be playing any more and it would be best if he got hooked up with another club. Everyone said it was a mad, crazy thing to do, again.
I gave the same message to another nine players. Then I got the 18 I had chosen together and told them we would stay up and win matches.
I let some go in the summer and brought in another group to add to it. Then we had two magical years. We were hard-working on a low budget. Well organised, disciplined. I managed to pick up some good players which I knew about from my time of doing the Knowledge.
I got together a fantastic group of men who trusted each other and worked together. We could go anywhere and beat anyone. Against clubs that had budgets five times the size of ours. We played kids, we played people I picked up from non-league football. The supporters were unbelievable, there weren’t many of them but by god they made themselves heard. When I first went there we were getting around 4,000 and by the time I left it was about 6,500. Wherever we went we made our mark and we had no fear of anyone. 
As good as it was I didn’t think I could keep it up at Brentford especially with some of those players being sold. I had no complaints because they had to be sold and the bank had to be satisfied. I told the chairman that I didn’t think I would be able to replace them with players of a similar quality and I would have been on a hiding to nothing. I still wanted to be successful and after finishing 3rd and 4th and reaching two play-offs and getting the fifth round of the FA Cup twice I wanted to keep progressing. So I resigned. I went back to my family and for the first time in a good few years I had a nice rest with no stress. I had no job either but it gave me a nice little bit of time. When I came back I met a few Championship clubs and some of them I thought were quite good and some of them I thought were just average. Some of them I thought would just settle for hanging about. Then I met the people at MK Dons and they were very positive and very persuasive. The chairman was very up front and said I want you to be the manager and I want you to start ASAP. That was the sort of attitude I wanted to hear, so I said yes straight away.
I then went on holiday with my wife and spent about 80% of the time on the telephone trying to build a new team after two years of relegation and struggle. I’m proud of my year there and it is going to be a big club.
I tried to adapt my aims while I was there. Brentford actually got into the play-offs with a negative goal difference and not many teams have done that. I wanted my sides to be more creative and score more goals. I think we did that and now my challenge here is to keep that going. Keep making progress…

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