Thursday, 12 November 2009

“Any club I played for I always wore big shorts, always looked a bit scruffy, and ran in a lazy swagger. But I was working hard. I worked just as hard as anybody else in that team. I suppose that was just my style”

Football Pundette caught up with one of City’s most misunderstood players and asked him about his dad, his memories and his hopes for the future of a football club he holds so close to his heart.

Some may see it as a blessing, some a curse. The moment Nicky Summerbee graced the pitch after his signing from Swindon Town to Manchester City in the summer of 1994, the older proportion of the crowd became touched with nostalgia. It had been 19 years since his father, Mike, had played for the Blues and made exactly the same first transfer. Just the sight of the famous surname on his son’s shirt had fans excited and intrigued.

Playing in the same position as his hugely successful senior, Nicky was soon creating a ‘buzz’, with his wing partnership with Peter Beagrie paying dividends. But the team then-manager Brian Horton helped to create was dismantled by Alan Ball and a plethora of various managers that followed in quick succession following the club’s relegation in 1996. Nicky became disheartened and went on to play for the likes of Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and Bradford City before retiring in 2006.
FP: Did your father’s career influence your decision to become a footballer?

Basically I was born with it. I went to the games with my dad and it’s just your lifestyle. Everywhere I went I would go and watch City. I was just born into it. My dad’s dad who I never met, George, used to play for Preston North End, obviously dad played and then I played so football really is in the family.

FP: When you moved from Swinton to Manchester City in 1994, was you aware of the pressure that your surname would invite?

NS: Yes I was, but what do you do, not get out of bed? You have to deal with it. On one hand it’s helped me, with my dad being able to help me in certain situations in football. But it went against me really. It was hard. It was a lot tougher than someone whose dad wasn’t famous. But I knew about it and just had to get on with it. Some people would just refer to me as Mike, I even had a journalist call me Mike during an interview. It’s something that I just took on the chin and accepted.

At the end the City fans were a bit unfair on me, but I don’t think that I helped myself. If I look back now I probably would have done a few things different. But with going to City I was always going to come up against my dad’s name; at the end it really wasn’t nice with mum and dad, but at the start there really was no problem so I don’t regret anything.

FP: You got to play with the likes of Paul Walsh, Uwe Rosler and Niall Quinn at City. What was that like?

Amazing. Obviously I played with Quinn up at Sunderland as well. If they would have kept those players there at City and then built on that...I mean you had Tony Coton, Terry Phelan, Keith Curle, Garry Flitcroft, Steve Lomas and then Georgi came. If you would have kept those players, they were much ahead of their time really. But they got rid of those players and it didn’t work out.

But to play with them was great. In 1994, the season when I came, it was ideal because I was playing as a winger and Brian Horton played out-and-out wingers. So there was Peter Beagrie and I feeding Quinn and Walsh and together made one of the highest goal-scorers in the Premier League, even though we conceded a lot. It would have been nice if we would have had another year together, we probably would have matured a lot.

FP: Did you play in the Liverpool relegation game? What did you think when Alan Ball told you to keep the ball and play for a draw?

NS: I was a substitute on that day, it was awful. We were getting battered, it was terrible. We couldn’t just keep the ball for 25 minutes against Liverpool! Then Quinn came running out and said that all the other teams were winning...we thought that we had done it, we thought the draw would be enough. The final whistle was devastating. Really bad times. As a player it’s just not good whatsoever. Alan Ball was a World Cup winner. I just don’t think that he brought the best out of the players if I’m honest. He wasn’t a great manager.

FP: Is it true that you had the quickest shot in world football at one point?

Yes (laughs). I did this thing when I was at Swindon called Record Breakers with the late Roy Castle. A magazine called Shoot or Match went around different football clubs and tracked the speed of shots by using a speed gun, similar to what the police use. I got to the final at BBC Television Centre in London with Roy Castle and Cheryl Baker. I think the speed of my shot was over 80 miles per hour. It was a bit of fun, a little moment of glory for me. I’ll have to dig the video out as I was only 18 or 19.

One thing I’ll always remember from that day though is shaking Roy Castle’s hand before I headed to the bar and he said to me: “Just be careful, there’s a lot of smoke up there”. At the time I didn’t think anything of that comment, but he later died of passive smoking. That really sticks in my mind.

FP: Tell us the story of your supposed race with Georgi Kinkladze on the M56.

NS: At the time Georgi had just bought a Ferrari so we parked the cars up at a hotel in Hale and went into town for a bit of something to eat. On the way back I asked him to give one of my mates a bit of a spin in his new car. So Georgi was driving and as we came out of the hotel, he took a left to go down to Wilmslow and I let him go past me. As he went past me he accelerated but the car span and he crashed into a wall. They both immediately got ejected out and landed on their feet on the road. It was awful. Georgi was alright, but as he turned round he had these scratches on his back, it looked like a bear had attacked his back. It was covered in really deep cuts.

I remember Georgi’s first game back at City after his recovery from the crash. The pitch announcer was reading the teams out and when he got to Georgi he said: “And number 10, straight from Daytona, Georgi Kinkladze!” He was just a young lad in a fast car who didn’t really know the power behind the accelerator. Looking back, it could have been a lot worse.

FP: What’s the best memory of your career?

NS: Playing for City and playing in Manchester derbies. Just to play in that kind of derby was brilliant. Away from that, I went to Wembley with Sunderland. I’ve been involved in four promotions: Swindon, Bolton, Sunderland and Leicester City as well. I’ve had some good times but bad times as well. When you look back at life as a footballer, you’re young and you don’t have a clue what’s going on. If I look at certain situations I probably would have done things differently. It’s strange when you come out of football and look back.

FP: Do you have any regrets?

NS: Not really. If anything I would have probably played to the crowd a little bit more. The first two years at Swindon I came across somebody who put the fire in my belly. At first he told me to go away and improve because I wasn’t good enough. I actually considered packing it in then and then thinking that it wasn’t the game for me. But I worked hard and proved him wrong. I really enjoyed that. To me it was a ‘me against the world’ kind of thing. I enjoyed being in that kind of situation. Sometimes you have to play at the crowd but I was never with the crowd, if the crowd go against you have had it. At the end of my career I went a bit bitter as it didn’t work out. I ended up coming out of football and not enjoying it. But the first part, which was City and Sunderland, I would never change. I’d do everything exactly the same.

FP: Did a night out in London with Melanie Sykes really cost you your Sunderland career?

NS: I think it might have done yes (laughs). It was Chris Makin, Michael Gray and I who had been invited out in London by a friend we knew in Manchester when we played Arsenal away. Melanie was friends with our friend, so we started ironing our gear on the Tuesday before the game we were that excited. We were jack-the-lads, we didn’t know any better. But that day we got beat 5-0 by Arsenal, went on the night out then at the end of the night came out of a nightclub with Melanie to be met by flashbulbs of paparazzi everywhere. Obviously they were there for her not us.

If we would have won, maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad. But it was a disaster. It was a stupid and naive thing to do. Chris and I got dropped for the next game, against Leeds, and a big rollicking. Looking back it really wasn’t a good idea. If we got beat we should have just gone home really. The paparazzi attention was all for her, but after a few drinks when we stepped out, we thought it was for us. We thought we were massive. It’s funny now, but looking back it was ridiculous.

FP: Who was the biggest role model during your career?

NS: I think I’d have to say dad (Mike Summerbee). When you go around with dad, even now, he’s respected wherever he goes. With getting this ambassador role at City, everybody comes up to me saying that they should have done it a long time ago. He deserves it, I’m so proud of him. It’s got to be dad.

FP: Do you see Martin Petrov and Shaun Wright-Phillips as the modern-day Beagrie and you?

NS: Yes. Beagrie had all his tricks, spinning one way then another. I was just direct, which probably to the eye wasn’t that attractive, but it was effective. I don’t think people realised that until I left. Any club I played for I always wore big shorts, always looked a bit scruffy, and ran in a lazy swagger. But I was working hard. I worked just as hard as anybody else in that team. Wright-Phillips has lots of tricks up his sleeve, but I was more direct, I’d whip the balls in for Quinny to get his head onto.

I like Petrov, I really do. I don’t think people know what kind of a quality player he really is. If City tried selling him, I think people would be surprised at what clubs would come in for him. He’s a very, very good player. I think United would be interested. But Shauny is great too, a fantastic player. I used to just stay out on the wing but he defends and gets everywhere.

FP: Do you think City now have got what it takes to win trophies?

NS: Yes I do. I don’t think it will happen as quickly as people are saying but they are definitely going in the right direction. I see them as an attacking force now, going forward they are a different thing altogether. One minute they can be under the hammer then turn it round and dangerously counter-attack. I think Mark Hughes is doing it perfectly; you don’t just get the winning mentality straight away. It’s a hard thing to get. I know City have drawn the last five games, but the important thing is they have only lost once. Once you get that belief and the fans know it’s there, it will come.

I definitely fancy them for Wembley this season, but I think it’s too soon for the Premier League. But that will come in time. It’s exciting times.

FP: How do you feel about City’s takeover baring in mind you are a United fan?

NS: I’m not a United fan, who told you that? No chance. I’m a City fan. 100%. Hand on my heart I’m a City fan. The takeover is good for the game as they need somebody to break into the Top Four. It’s exciting to see how they do it, it’s not just instant, it’s about how they build a team and what’s he going to do next. Who will be signed in the transfer window, it’s exciting to see. I’ve been to quite a few games this season and when you go into the ground it’s just a totally different thing altogether. The way the club do everything now is just fantastic. It’s just all there, waiting for something to happen. City are constantly in the papers and under this intense microscope.

I think, deep down, I don’t think United are happy at all, are they? That’s why Ferguson’s always having these rants. I think something will happen in the Carling Cup, I’ve got this feeling that we will meet our neighbours somewhere along the way. We’ve got a bit of a score to settle now after what happened at Old Trafford; they have got to come to City in the league and that will be something special. But as for the takeover, it’s great. I like it a lot.

FP: OPTA stats say that you had a better accuracy rate with your crosses than David Beckham. How does that make you feel?

NS: Very good! I used to really think before I put crosses in. I used to go for a percentage of crosses into a selection of different areas. The way I saw it, the more balls that went into the area, the more chance that somebody gets on the end of them and scores. That’s it really. But to get that statistic against Beckham is absolutely fantastic. That’s another claim to fame for me!

Nicky now runs Specialist Motors, to find out more visit

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stan Collymore Exclusive Interview

"Ferguson should be using his position of power much better than he currently does"

In a typically honest and frank interview, former footballer-turned talkSPORT favourite Stan Collymore talks to Football Pundette about his career and his views on City's takeover, cheating and Ferguson's referee issues.

FP: What made you want to become a footballer?

It started from the age of six really. I just got bitten by the bug. I was playing with friends at the age of seven or eight then playing for under 10s and 11 teams. It wasn’t the traditional route of your dad taking you to the games and living the dream through him if you like, it was just me going out and enjoying football at a very early age.

FP: Who did you regard as a role model during your career?

SC: Well there are a couple of people really. There was a guy who scouted me and brought me into the school team a couple of years younger than I should have been who I learned a lot from. In terms of a professional player, that would have to be a guy called Gary Shaw who used to play for Aston Villa. He was European Young Player of the Year and helped Villa win the European Cup in 1982 but unfortunately he suffered a bad knee injury and never really came back from that. I’d have to say it was him.

FP: You played for the likes of Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Aston Villa amongst others. What was your career highlight?

SC: I think making my England debut at Wembley. Making my Liverpool debut and scoring on it against Sheffield Wednesday at Anfield. Also a great European night when Aston Villa played Athletico Madrid and beat them 2-1. I scored a cracker at the Holte End that night which is where I used to stand as a kid. The Liverpool-Newcastle 4-3 game is high on that list too. Everybody regards that as one of the best Premier League games. It was a fantastic game for a lot of people and for Liverpool fans, including me, as I scored the third goal and then the winner in the last minute. But it would be eclipsed by my England debut. For me without a doubt, my highlight is representing my country and getting my first cap for England against Japan.

FP: You retired at the relatively young age of 30. Why was that, given your impressive goal ratio?

SC: I think I’d just had enough. I’d been playing for 22 years, since a really early age. Some people carry on until they are 38 or 39 and can hardly walk and I had just had enough. There was more reasons, family reasons, but really I just wanted a change of direction and to quit while I was still relatively fit.

FP: Your career took off at a similar time to the Premier League being launched. How do you think the game has changed since its introduction?

SC: Massively. The money involved nowadays is phenomenal. I personally broke the British transfer record at the time in 1995 going from Forest to Liverpool for £8.5 million. There’s now 24-hour football news. There’s huge intrusion by the press into your personal lives. Now in the media you have to just say what you feel rather just go along with it, you have to be honest.

I think the bigger clubs have a massive advantage: there’s only ever been a handful of clubs that have been able to win the old First Division and the Premier League, but now you see a group of five or six that probably for the next 20-so years will only have a chance of winning it. I think that’s one of the downsides.
But in terms of the upsides we’ve got great stadia now and there’s football on seven days a week. I think without a doubt the biggest single factor has been the money that clubs have had to spend.

FP: What are your thoughts regarding Manchester City’s takeover, with people suggesting the club are trying to ‘buy’ success? Do you think they have what it takes to challenge for top honours?

SC: I was at City against Burnley. Obviously defensively they look a bit flaky at the moment but in terms of City moving forward there’s no doubt that if the owners stay where they are, with the kind of financial clout that they have, City will eventually win something. It’s almost guaranteed.

Look at the situation at Chelsea: they were £80 million in debt and Ken Bates sold the club to Roman Abramovich. They went on to win two titles back-to-back and will probably win a third this season.

I think it’s unfair to clubs like Everton who are working on a budget and still manage to be competitive and they keep seeing clubs overtake them. But like I say, that is the Premier League. It’s about money. It’s about having money in the here and now and being competitive in terms of buying the best players.

Do I think it’s fair? No. It would be great to have a system where everybody has to deal with the same financial constraints so you would see a proper champion at the end of the season. But the way it is, with anybody happening upon the situation that City are in, they are almost guaranteed success.

FP: Do you think that referees are actually intimidated by Alex Ferguson?

SC: Well it’s quite topical. I think Ferguson in terms of achievement over 25 years at United he has real clout and power in the game. But again after the Chelsea game he was critical of the referee. I don’t think managers should be able to talk about anything other than their own team in both pre and post-match interviews and press conferences.

We’re struggling for referees as it is. I think 7-8,000 walk away from the game every year and we’re struggling to fill that gap. If you’re a young lad at home that isn’t perhaps quite good enough to be a professional footballer but would maybe like to be a referee who then see a post-match press conference with the likes of Ferguson making those comments, would you like to be a referee? So I think without a doubt Ferguson should be using his position of power much better than he currently does.

FP: How do you feel about the so-called ‘cheating’ that goes on in football, with the likes of Didier Drogba and Eduardo?

SC: I think it’s disgusting. I think the fact that even when I played and we had the influx of foreign players it was almost like a badge of honour for English players or British-based players to try as much as possible to stay on your feet. That’s just the way it is; cheating, diving, leaving your trailing leg in. Other people do it in other leagues and we shouldn’t condone it in the Premier League as we’ve always been straight and honest. In all honestly now, it doesn’t matter which name you pick out, there’s probably half a dozen English or foreign-based Premier League superstars that routinely cheat.

I’ve always thought that, on a weekly basis, the Premier League should come out and name and shame them and accompany that with length bans and big fines for the culprits. But Sepp Blatter said a couple of weeks ago that he’s more concerned with buying young players from clubs abroad than diving, so I don’t think it’s high on UEFA or FIFA’s agenda. But make no bones about it, it’s cheating.

FP: With so many ex-players involved in management nowadays, who do you think has made the most impressive transition? Have you ever been tempted to become a manager?

SC: I’ve never been tempted to go into management. Coaching on a level with kids where you can have the ability to help them along yes, but once you get the final product in terms of adult and you’re working with players who have their own mindset, it’s very difficult to mould them into playing the way you want them to.

Players who have made a good transition...the likes of Roberto Martinez, who played in the lower leagues and have gone on to manage Wigan Athletic with relative success. I think Gareth Southgate was a bit hard done by at Middlesbrough with all the financial restraints there. Martin O’Neill, who was a European Cup-Winner and captain of Northern Ireland, he’s gone on to have a fantastic managerial career. Steve Bruce is doing very, very well. There are plenty of them. If you look up and down the Premier League, virtually all of them have played in the old First Division as it was.

But in terms of young managers, Paul Ince has had a spell at Blackburn and now he’s back at MK Dons, I’m sure he will benefit from that experience. Without a doubt, there are managers who have played in the Premier League that will go on and have success in managerial careers.

FP: Do you think Mark Hughes is the right man to lead Manchester City to success?
SC: It will be interesting. I think him and his players have got to get used to the added expectation. At Blackburn and his first season at City there was expectation: with Blackburn it was to stay in the Premier League and with City it was to be in the top half. But now people see City as a scalp, which I think is one of the reasons why they have drawn their last five games. Teams are going to make it really difficult as it’s like a cup final for the opposition. Mark Hughes has to adjust to that. I think we’ll only tell really by the end of the season whether or not he’s a manager that can cope with that kind of pressure, tactically and mentally, to take City forward. I think the jury’s out to be honest. He’s had a decent start, he’s signed some great players, but I think they are going through a bit of a blip with five draws. I think we’ll be better placed to answer that question come January if he’s still in the job and see if he’s got money to strength with then.

FP: Is there anything you would change about today’s game?

SC: Yes. I’d introduce long bans. I’m talking eight-game bans for proven cheats. What we have in English football is a very honest and fast-paced game. I talk to fans up and down the country and the one thing they hate, the one thing that keeps cropping up, is players diving and cheating. This not just from opposition players but from their own players. That would be the one thing I would change.
Listen to Stan on talkSPORT 1089/1053 Medium Wave and follow him on Twitter @StanCollymore.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


I haven’t written for a while as you may have noticed. But please accept my apology for the absence and I’m here now to try and dissect the action that has incurred during the past fortnight because, as always, a lot has happened.

Point to prove

The visit of Fulham to Eastlands was always going to be a tricky one in my eyes. Roy Hodgson’s team have beat City for the past two seasons in Manchester and I was apprehensive about how City would figure this time. I think I’m right to say that the first 45 was a bit hit-and-miss, although Micah Richards’ had a headed goal disallowed for reasons unbeknown to me at the time. After several further replays at half-time, Match of the Day clarified for me when I got home that Gareth Barry had impeded. A very harsh decision- if the goal would have stood the game could have had a different dimension to it.

Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor both went close to giving City the lead, but it was defender Joleon Lescott after the break that scored during a goal-mouth scramble. Martin Petrov doubled the lead with an effort that rocketed past Mark Schwarzer and at that point, the Blues looked comfortable and set for a possible riot. But Damien Duff and Clint Dempsey both slotted past Shay Given to give Fulham a point. It was frustrating to give away a cushioned lead, but Fulham have troubled us a lot in the past, so a point is definitely better than none.

Cup delights

Brighton, Lincoln, Forest, Blackpool...teams that City have succumbed to in the past during early rounds of a Cup. I should have felt reasonably confident having seen a home tie against Scunthorpe United drawn for Mark Hughes’ side. But I remained pessimistic and a little bit nervous as the two teams kicked off.

My early doubts were firmly shrugged off with a confident and classy 5-1 victory for City. Goals from Stephen Ireland, Roque Santa Cruz, Lescott (two in two), Tevez and substitute Michael Johnson sent City flying into the Carling Cup quarter-finals. What made it all the more special was that each goal was taken so well, particularly the final goal from Johnson. I really hope he gets the chance to prove himself and to put up a decent fight into the team, but it’s going to prove a difficult task, with former Player of the Season Ireland having to settle for a substitute role at the moment.

Blackburn, Chelsea, United, Portsmouth, Villa, Arsenal and Spurs are all also in with a chance of winning the Carling Cup. I think it was essential that we got a home tie- so we have drawn Arsenal at Eastlands, but it could have been a lot worse. Arsene Wenger has a reputation of playing his kids in the Carling Cup, but he may be keen to vindicate the 4-2 defeat against City earlier in the season.

Shay saves the day

On to St. Andrews, home of Birmingham City, where the Blues from Manchester were searching for their first league win since September. But Alex McLeish’s side were stubborn and determined throughout the 90 minutes. Shay Given was forced to make a string of excellent saves, including saving a penalty from James McFadden. City seemed out-of-sorts and struggled to create opportunities in the final third but battled well and came away with a point. Vincent Kompany was playing in the heart of defence with Kolo Toure out injured and Stephen Ireland was once again introduced to the game from the bench.

Should Ireland be included in the starting eleven to provide that kind of creative influence in midfield? If so, which player should be dropped? This is exactly the kind of (welcome) headache that Hughes knew he would have to encounter and it seems like he is still tinkering with finding the right starting eleven and suitable formation to accommodate those players.

Look at the positives: City have only been beaten once so far this season, and that was by a last-gasp, much-debated goal at Old Trafford. At the moment the Blues occupy a Champions League spot in the Premier League table and a quarter-final place in the Carling Cup. Shay Given has proved to be an outstanding snip at £8 million, Nigel De Jong is both terrifying and bullish in the engine room and Craig Bellamy has become a reformed and successful character, winning praise from all angles.

Premier picks

There was a game that I watched during the last weekend that blew me away. Chelsea’s display against Bolton was simply phenomenal. Their fourth goal, including a cheeky back-heel from Frank Lampard with the slick move finished by Didier Drogba, was sublime and a testament to the team spirit and work ethic that’s going on at Stamford Bridge. Right now the Blues seem unstoppable. But Carlo Ancellotti will have to deal with the absence of several of his star players at the turn of the year with the African Cup of Nations on the horizon. With the club under a transfer embargo, Ancellotti will have to ‘make do’ with what resources he already has in West London.

Liverpool are a very interesting side right now. I mentioned in a previous column about their ‘beach-ball’ fiasco, but the club have even bigger issues right now with their imminent trip to Lyon in the Champions League possibly deciding their fate in Europe. I do rate Rafa Benitez as a manager but he has made some questionable signings and his tactics and decisions can leave a lot to be desired. The two significant players in his side are Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres- but take them out of the equation and the Merseyside team are vulnerable, exposed and unpredictable. Watch this space.

Blue Tuesday

This show is going from strength to strength and this week was no exception. Ian Cheeseman, Paul Lake and I tackled the ‘Munich debate’, regarding the appalling chants that a minority of City fans continue to indulge in. We had Kari Dodson, grand-daughter of Frank Swift on the phone and she was a revelation, offering a really touching and personal side to the subject.

We also featured interviews with Tony Coleman (pre-record) and Niall Quinn (live). Coleman has caused a lot of controversy with his forthright and opinionated views on Australia and its citizens. Quinny was excellent and refreshingly honest, talking about his ‘disco pants’, his admiration for Bellamy and his jealousy for City’s situation right now. If you missed it, head to the BBC iPlayer to ‘Listen Again’. Its well worth it I promise you.

Next week though we have a two-hour special, with Ian coming live from Abu Dhabi. We’re really working hard on content for the show and it will definitely prove to be unmissable, with the focus going on the club’s takeover and highlighting Abu Dhabi. Plus we have also just had a significant figure at City confirm that he will be on as a guest in a couple of weeks. Exciting times.

And finally...

I think the main disappointment from City fans has been our failure to really capitalise on other teams at the top slipping up. Every side in the Top Four have been dropping points and there have been plenty of opportunities to seize momentum and rise even further in the table. But there are far too many positives right now at the club and with Burnley visiting Eastlands this Saturday, there may be even more reason to celebrate come 5pm...