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Old 05-08-2002, 02:32 AM
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Trevor Francis – the Open Day interview

Trevor Francis was interviewed by Tom Watt, at today's Crystal Palace Open Day at Selhurst Park. The interview was broadcast live on BBC Radio London. Here is the interview in full:
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:33 AM
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TW: Welcome Trevor Francis

TF: It's a pleasure to be hear. It's my first occasion for an Open Day at Crystal Palace, and the enthusiasm being generated by the supporters is obviously what we need throughout the season. I spoke about the Birmingham game here, with three or four weeks of the season remaining. The supporters were absolutely magnificent, they were so noisy, so passionate, and if we could have that on more occasions at home, it would certainly be a big assistance to the players.

TW: Win a game or two early on, and that's exactly what you'll get Trevor. And what you will get, you know, is that you'll get Palace supporters turning up in numbers. Because they are loyal to the club, like few others.

TF: Well we tend to talk about Palace supporters at home, here at Selhurst Park, but I would have to say that the support we get away from home is absolutely fantastic. You know the size of Birmingham as a city, but Crystal Palace take more away supporters to watch the team than what Birmingham do, so well done.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:34 AM
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TW: Do you feel that you are now creating a Palace team that you’ll be judged by, as well as the players themselves?

TF: Yes, I said at the time that it's never ideal for any manager going into a football club during the season, but you can't pick and choose when you go to football clubs. I was really looking forward to the pre-season. We started on 1st July, so we have now completed five weeks. We're approaching the start of the season next week against Preston, and I feel that it's gone very well. I certainly feel more a part of Crystal Palace than I did a few months ago. Getting to know the surroundings, getting to know the players. The one thing I would say is that the spirit amongst the players has certainly improved during this summer period. There is a real togetherness. We've been quite active on and off the field, in terms of bringing players in, and players leaving the football club, and I would say now that that has not finished. We still intend to bring one or two more players into the football club. So the squad is changing.

I think that there were four players brought in last season, mainly in defensive areas. We brought in Kit Symons, Danny Granville, Curtis Fleming and Ade Akinbiyi up front. This summer we've tried to strengthen again, with the arrival of Danny Butterfield from Grimsby, Shaun Derry from Portsmouth, and Andrew Johnson, and it's ongoing. We're currently in discussions with Brentford for Darren Powell, I believe a fee has been agreed between the two football clubs, now we have to try and agree personal terms. I felt that a defender was quite essential, because we're all disappointed with the number of times that we’ve been without Kit Symons.

I think I've been rather unfortunate since I've come to the football club, because rarely have I been able to field my two regular centre-halves, Popovic and Symons, they have been out for long periods. Unfortunately Kit Symons has had to have another operation, so with Dean Austin and Gregg Berhalter on the transfer list, I felt that it was essential that we looked to bring in someone else, and I'm hopeful that that could be concluded in the next 24 hours.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:35 AM
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TW: What's the situation with Dean and Gregg? They are on the transfer list, but have been very much a part of pre-season preparations.

TF: Well, we'll start with Dean. There was a problem of course, at the end of the season, and it was well documented with regard to the trip to Seville. Dean came out and rather stupidly in my opinion, and I'm sure he'll be the first to admit, criticised the Chairman. No matter which business you're in, you don't criticise your boss. He did that, so he was placed on the transfer list. He actually asked to be stripped of his captaincy, that was his decision. But as far as I'm concerned, whilst Dean is here he'll always be selected because I feel that he's still got an important part to play. There hasn't been any enquiries, so he's played in most of the pre-season games, and he's still a very important part of the squad.

Gregg Berhalter is slightly different. He played in the last two World Cup games for the USA, and played very well, and since then there's been quite a few enquiries. He's actually been across to Greece, talked to a Greek team, nothing materialised there. There was an offer to go to Turkey, and now I believe there's another foreign club that are showing keen interest in him. So there is the possibility that Gregg may be leaving, but for any player it's always their decision. And because of the uncertainty, with two players on the transfer list, any moment they could be gone, that's the reason why I feel that it's important that I move to try and bring in another defender.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:36 AM
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TW: You mentioned Darren Powell from Brentford, and I'm assuming that because you're prepared to talk about that as the next likely signing, the negotiations must be quite a way down the road. For people that may not have seen Darren play at Brentford, he would bring qualities. He's still raw, but he would bring qualities, particularly I'm thinking outstanding pace, and he is about eight and a half feet tall. He would bring qualities perhaps, to the squad, that aren't here at the moment.

TF: Well, I like my two centre-halves to be strong defensively in the air, because I think that it's vitally important that you head the ball well all over the field, especially in defensive areas. And he does come and attack the ball very well. He's a huge guy, he's not quite the size that you said he is, but he's 6’ 3, and for one who is so big he's also got excellent pace. If you look along the back four, we're not exactly blessed with great pace. We've got good defenders, but I think that when you've got that kind of pace it enables you to hold a higher line, and condense the play a bit more than what we're doing at the moment. So I think that while Kit Symons is out of the picture, if we were able to bring in Darren Powell, it would prove to be a good acquisition. I've watched him a couple of times myself, this pre-season, and of course my first team coach Terry Bullivant used to work with him at Brentford. I think it's always good when you've actually worked with someone, you know their strengths and weaknesses, and certainly Terry has been very complimentary in his assessment on Darren Powell.

TW: He's had a bad time with injuries, early part of last season, and the end of the season before that. But he was looking something like back to his best, and I'm sure would be a real acquisition for the football club.

Question from the crowd (Garry from Forest Hill): Trevor, can you advise everybody what the situation is with Dele Adebola, who played on Wednesday on trial?

TF: Yes, he played on Wednesday here against Spurs, which I'm sure you'll agree was always going to be a difficult game. But I thought he did quite well on Wednesday. He trained on Thursday, then I watched him on Friday playing against Woking, when he played very well. I've actually just tried to ring the Chairman this afternoon, he's busy away in Spain on business. I want to talk to him about the possibility of trying to do something. At the moment, until I get through to Simon, there's not a lot more I can say. But I was very pleased with the way he performed, as I was with one or two others on Friday night at Woking.

It saw the return of Aki Riihilahti. He's done most of the pre-season training, but he's not been able to get involved in any physical contact, because of the nature of the operation that he had on his elbow, but he looked very fit on Friday. In midfield along with Shaun Derry, the two of them played very well. Adebola played up front with Andrew Johnson. We've got players who are need of match practice, and they have obviously benefited from Friday's game, and I would like to think that all three that I have mentioned will start the game tomorrow night against Charlton. I'm hoping that the lad Adebola can also come and play for us tomorrow again.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:36 AM
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TW: Have you found a sports outfitters in south London who will find you kit big enough for Dele because he is a big lad. Which is part of the problem that he sets for defenders of course, he's a real physical presence.

TF: There's a lot of things that are needed in this League, to get yourselves into an elevated position. And I think that strength, aggression, power are all the ingredients. Obviously players must be able to play the game of football, but I think you need a certain number of big players in the team, because set-pieces are so vital. You have to defend them well at one end, and attack well at the other end. And if you get players like Powell, Symons, Popovic, Adebola, huge figures going-up for set-pieces, obviously if the delivery of the ball is good you've got more opportunity to score goals. And equally so when you're defending, when you've got six or seven big six footers in there, you’ve got more chance of not conceding goals.

Question from the crowd (Joshua from Croydon): I think Palace need a bit more pace, they need to get a bit faster, when they've got the ball the other players need to move around a bit more. I know you've only been here for a short while, but I wonder what's your take on that?

TF: I've just mentioned that I'm looking for a little bit of pace in defensive areas, and I think that if Powell was to come in he would give us that. I agree with you, I think that pace is absolutely vital in any football team. I think that we are looking to try and get Julian Gray back to full fitness as soon as possible. I've been disappointed with his progress, I was hoping that he'd be available for the start of the season, but he hasn't quite improved as I would have liked. I have actually sent him this evening, ready to start first thing tomorrow morning, to Lilleshall, where he will be given one-to-one supervision. He doesn't know it yet, but he'll be working damn hard up there.

TW: On fitness?

TF: Just fitness, and strengthening work. They've got a great rehabilitation centre up there, where I've been before and visited, I know what the set-up is. I think it would benefit Crystal Palace by sending him there, just for the week, to try and speed-up the progress of getting him fit. Because we need him back, and obviously he would give us that little bit of flair and inventiveness on the left-hand side, and that sort of pace that the young lad Joshua is talking about.

What I would say is that I've been very very pleased with the way that the players have approached this pre-season. They've been looking good in training, we've brought in a new fitness coach, his name is Jim Barron, who has worked very professionally, very enthusiastically, and he's had the same kind of response from the players. So what you'll see is a very fit squad, by the time we start the season.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:37 AM
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TW: Talking about pace throughout the side, we've talked a bit about what Darren Powell might bring at the back, and of course Andy Johnson, that's his great strength. Coming from St Andrews as part of the deal that took Clinton Morrison away from the football club, that is a great strength of Andy's game.

TF: Andrew Johnson is very quick, he likes to get in behind defenders. It wasn't the ideal time to bring him on the other night, when we were losing the game, but I think he was nice and neat and tidy when he came on. He's always looking to be positive in his play. He scored two goals on Friday, at Woking. But if we were to bring in Adebola, without doubt he would be the quickest player on the books.

TW: Really?

TF: He's absolutely, frighteningly quick. I know that he's had a full pre-season at Birmingham, it's his first time for two years, because he suffered quite a serious injury, and he didn't do a pre-season last year. He's been out of the game for twelve months, but I've still got my contacts there, I still keep in touch with various players. Every event that's been competitive at Birmingham throughout the pre-season, whether it's 20 yards, 50 yards, 100 yards, anything up to 400, he's won everything. So, despite his size, he's phenomenally quick, for one so big.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:38 AM
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TW: How much of what you learnt about the players has actually been in your mind through pre-season, and how much have you actually talked about what happened last season, as a way of preparing for the new season?

TF: I am thorough in my preparation. For example, I travelled up to Wigan yesterday, to have a look at Preston, our opponents next week. I was interested to see how they were playing. I don't think you can look too closely into actual form, at this stage of the season, but I'm interested to see what the team shape is. Over the years Preston have always been 4-4-2, but my spies tell me that throughout the pre-season they've been playing with three at the back, and a wing-back. So I was quite interested yesterday, under a new manager Craig Brown, to see them playing three at the back and with wing-backs. I have to say that first half, the body language kind of told me that they weren't totally happy with it. It was no surprise that at half-time, they actually changed to 4-4-2. So I've come away slightly confused, I don't know what to expect next week. So I think that it's important that we concentrate on what we're going to do. I know exactly what we're going to do, the players have been working on things throughout the pre-season.

With regard to how things have gone since I've been here, I try to be as honest as possible with my assessment. I think that it was generally regarded throughout football that Palace the year before were perishingly close to going down to the Second Division. The last day of the season, through some sort of help from Birmingham, when we went to Huddersfield and won 2-1, we helped to keep Crystal Palace up. But of course they had to do what they had to, for themselves, at Edgeley Park against Stockport. So, to expect the team to go from 21st into the top six in one season, doesn't happen.

I would say that the first half of the season the team played very very well. In the last few days with the Clinton Morrison deal, I've been talking quite regularly with Steve Bruce, and Steve's words are that the team "over achieved". He felt that the team couldn't possibly continue as they did in the first few months of the season, and he knew that a dip would probably happen. Because he felt that the squad wasn't sufficiently strong enough, they had played very very well on very lush pitches where it suited Palace's passing style of football. But of course once you get to November/December, the grass starts to get a bit bare, the pitches become slightly uneven, the cold kicks in.

There are so many things that are needed to produce a Championship winning team, or a team that are good enough for automatic or into the Pay-Offs. I felt that in the second half of the season, I came in and possibly took slightly unfair criticism at times. But it's all part of the territory, I've got broad shoulders, and I was able to accept it. But that's in the past, we've spoken about the past, I'm looking forward to the future. The squad has changed, there's been something like seven new arrivals. I'm hoping that the team will be stronger this season, the squad will be stronger, and that we all pull together. Because I want to do well, I've come to London, I've moved my family down here now, I've made a full commitment to the football club. We've just taken the keys to a new house, we'll be in the house next week, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to a long stay at Crystal Palace.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:39 AM
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TW: Are you having us round?

TF: I can only invite a couple, I can't invite 20,000.

TW: That kind of stability is what any football club needs.

TF: Not more so than this football club, because they've had too many changes in the past. Managers have their own ideas, the squad starts to change, at the moment things are very stable. The relationship between the Chairman and myself is very good, the relationship between the players and myself is getting better by the day. I've already said that the spirit now is far, far better than when I first came into the football club. Players have slowly moved on. I think that supporters will be surprised to know that something like 19 players have actually left since I've been at the club.

Some of them have been younger players, who were reserve team players, but this summer for example Simon Rodger, Jovan Kirovski, David Hopkin, Clinton Morrison, Cedric Carasso the third team keeper, that's five players that have moved on, and there are still more that I would like to try and move on. Because if I move players on I'm looking to bring stronger ones in. But you can't continually keep bringing players in, without letting players go. You must balance the books, because every manager wants to bring players in, but I can't run-up an astronomical wage bill.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:40 AM
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selhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mineselhurst : if all you've got to do today is find peace of mind, come round, you can take a piece of mine
TW: Can you expect to go from 21st season before last, to top six this time round?

TF: What I would say at this moment is, in my mind, and I hope that Simon Jordan is in agreement with this, I feel that I need to bring in two more players. If I can bring in the right two, and I've already talked about Darren Powell and possibly Dele Adebola, then if I could bring in one other, apart from those two, I would feel then that the squad has a good balance to it. It's no good talking about eleven players, because seldom through the course of the season, do you have the opportunity to play the eleven players. There's always going to be injuries.

At the moment no one has any sympathy with the manager who continually talks about injuries, but if you look at this moment Kit Symons, Ade Akinbiyi, Jamie Smith, Julian Gray, there's four players there that I'm sure would feature somewhere in the starting sixteen. So we've got to get those back to full fitness. I feel that with the players that I've spoken about, I believe that we've got a very good chance this season, of getting in the top six. I think it's a year when there's no outstanding side. I felt that last year Man City were the outstanding team.

TW: Still beat them (Man City) down here mind.

TF: We did. It was my first official game and a game that I look back on with great pleasure. I knew it was a big win, beating Man City. They weren't top at the time, but I always felt that they would finish top. The year before, Fulham were the outstanding team, and I don't quite see that team this year. I'm sure that Wolves will have another good season. I think that Preston are always a good bet, they finished seventh last year, fourth the year before. It's a particularly difficult start the first game going to Preston, but I'm sure we can go there and do well. Outside of that, I think you always have to look at the teams that have come down – Leicester, Derby and Ipswich. All three of them won't do well, but I think that Ipswich, having been in this League quite recently, I'm sure they're going to have a good season. Leicester and Derby, I'm not quite sure. They've certainly on paper got the best squads, but whether they'll adjust straight away to the First Division, I'm not so sure. I'm hoping they'll have the same sort of problems as Coventry had last year.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:40 AM
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End of interview.
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Old 05-08-2002, 02:46 AM
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I've been talking quite regularly with Steve Bruce, and Steve's words are that the team "over achieved". He felt that the team couldn't possibly continue as they did in the first few months of the season


Hmmm quite a significant and interesting point.........
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Old 05-08-2002, 03:00 AM
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Well no not when people piss off and leave you without a manager!

ah well old news on with the new season!

Seemed fairly confident about getting Powell though good thing?

Thanks Selhurst for that very informative!
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Old 05-08-2002, 03:08 AM
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Thanks very much Selhurst, much appreciated. I was actually there this afternoon but the sound was very poor where I was sitting so could only pick upon bits of what TF was saying. As for Dougie, just managed to hear .... .... Palace ... .... Crystal Palace.

I was very pleased with the reception TF got - it can only help.
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Old 05-08-2002, 03:13 AM
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Also thought the player interviews from DF and HM were just what the doctor ordered.

Did anybody count how any times AJ said 'erm' it has to be at least 30.
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Old 05-08-2002, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by I.Flyer
Thanks very much Selhurst, much appreciated. I was actually there this afternoon but the sound was very poor where I was sitting so could only pick upon bits of what TF was saying. As for Dougie, just managed to hear .... .... Palace ... .... Crystal Palace.
Yes, very poor sound quality, although TF was by far the clearest from where I was sitting.
All that I managed to hear from Terry Bullivant's interview was mentions of Nobby Stiles and Jesse Owens!
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Old 05-08-2002, 11:35 AM
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Thanks very much Selhurst. Much appreciated.

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Old 05-08-2002, 11:49 AM
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Unfortunately I couldn't make it as it was the 4th birthday of a future Palace season ticket holder, but thanks for posting the interview. I think it is really good information that TF has given, very positive and very honest about things. I hope that some of the doubters can digest the information and realise the problems he has had to deal with. All I ask in return for my season tickets (I bought three) is commitment, and I thnk he is certainly showing that.

Now is the time to really judge his ability, as the squad has a real Francis feel about it.
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Old 05-08-2002, 12:41 PM
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i am now looking forward to the season and we should all get behind the lads.

Not having a go but is anyone else a little sick and tired of TF mentioning Birmingham in every conversation he has, it's bad enough hearing baout them in the press with SB. Come on TF you are with us now, just forget about the blues for one seaosn and see what you can do
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Old 05-08-2002, 12:53 PM
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Firstly, I have to say that I am one of the TF doubters.

However, his answers appeared to be frank and honest. I just hope that he can get the best out of a "good" squad of players. I am beginning to think that the coaching is the biggest problem. It would even seem that the 2nd XI look more like a unit!

Come on TF, you've earned a stay of execution from me, now make me change my opinion!
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