Loovens & Grayson Craic…

The Checkatrade Trophy may be generally vilified throughout football, but Glenn Loovens and 1,500-hardcore travelling SAFC fans disagree. “We’re in this competition and we want to win every game, so of course we want to win this competition as well,” said Glenn Loovens. “The fact it's at Wembley is a bonus for everyone involved because it's something special. I have to say I don’t have really fond memories about Wembley myself. I lost two finals there. But third time lucky, that’s what they say. A lot of us have not played for a while, so for us it was a good workout. We had to turn up with the right mentality otherwise it can turn into a battle. I think we showed that we came with the right attitude. Max, after a few suspensions as well, had to get back in the swing of things, and Bryan (Oviedo) as well. It was good for the ones who have not played regularly – it’s a win-win for everyone. In England, the leagues are so, so tough, and then you’ve got the cup competitions as well so you need everyone in the squad. We have proved that as well, that we're going to need everyone.”

Loovens also had a few kind words for Josh Maja, who netted our winner at Morecambe. “He’s spectacular. You have to wait once a week, we see it every day in training. I know exactly what he can do and he proved it again.”

Loovens also explained how getting a run out at Morecambe helped with his fitness levels. “As a player it doesn’t matter what age you are, you need to have a good base and that comes from pre-season. I was already fighting against the tide a bit, but I had to be there because there was no other choice. That’s football and you deal with it and get on with it. Of course, I tried to play to the best of my ability. I had eight or nine games then got injured and things happen in football. Someone else (Flanagan) got their chance and took it and fair enough if they’re keeping clean sheets and winning games, you won’t hear me complaining. At my age, home games are the best. The travelling is not that kind to your body any more so I’m delighted with another home game (after five of the last six were away).”

In other news, Simon Grayson has been chatting about how he was sacked after the 3-3 draw against Bolton last season. He said: “My practice after a game as a manager was to go into my office, spend a couple of minutes speaking to my staff, and then go in to see the players. I found that that was a good way for me to gather my thoughts and allow the players to settle down before I started talking to them. So, as usual, I went into my office but this time, within 30 seconds of sitting down, the chief executive Martin Bain walks in. He said: “Look, I know this timing isn’t the right thing to do but I’ve had just Ellis on the line asking me to let you know that you’re relieved of your duties’. I was gobsmacked. I wasn’t surprised at the decision to sack me – I was surprised at the timing. I thought they could have had at least waited 15 minutes or 20 minutes, but Martin said: “Look I’m under instructions’. So I gathered my thoughts and I went into the dressing room as I would normally. The dressing room was quiet. I said to the players: “‘Look, you can’t keep on making stupid mistakes. It’s something that has happened all season. I went through a few bits and bobs with them that had happened in the game and then I basically finished by saying: ‘Anyway, you’ve been a joy to work with, I’ve just been sacked,” and I walked out. There was a stunned silence because they didn’t expect it to be done so quickly, and in the way it was done either. I heard later that our captain, John O’Shea, had stood up in the dressing room –- and I really appreciate this, because this has come from other people –- and he said: “‘Why is it? What is it with us that we keep getting good people sacked when it is our responsibility?”

Grayson also touched on the problems he faced at the club: “The biggest thing that was hanging over the football club when I came in was that there was so much animosity towards Ellis Short, and he had decided he no longer wanted to invest. So, as much as it is a horrible thing to suffer relegation at the end of the season I was involved in, it probably gave Ellis the opportunity to sell the club, and for players to leave. Ultimately, maybe going down the second time can be of longer-term benefit for the club –- we’ve seen it already this season with Sunderland having put a great run of wins together. Having won at home very quickly, all of a sudden you can find yourself on a run that can snowball. Whether it is League One, Championship or Premier League, wins give you momentum – Chris Coleman didn’t get a home win for a long time after his arrival, and that didn’t help him. I’d like to have achieved more personally, but I couldn’t leave much influence on Sunderland over the four months I was there, and my feeling now is that it was the right club at the wrong time for me. If I had taken over now, a year later, I would have been the more suitable because of my reputation for getting four promotions from League One. You always try to leave improvements when you depart a club, on and off the pitch, but you need a period of time to do that.”

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