Thursday 22 February 2018

Footballers liked a drink in the 1980s and still do, says Ron Atkinson

Wayne Rooney will be investigated by the FA after
Wayne Rooney will be investigated by the FA after "inappropriate" photos of England captain surfaced after the match with Scotland

Players enjoying a drink on a night out remains much the same part of English football culture now as it did in the 1980s, according to former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson.

The Football Association is conducting a "proper investigation" to establish what exactly England captain Wayne Rooney and any of its staff did on Saturday night at the team's base in The Grove Hotel.

Rooney has ''unreservedly'' apologised to interim England manager Gareth Southgate, the Football Association and football supporters in general following the emergence of ''inappropriate'' images.

It is alleged Rooney dropped in on a wedding party, with the Sun newspaper printing a photo appearing to show the Manchester United forward, wearing an England training top, looking the worse for wear.

Another photo, used by the Mirror newspaper, showed Rooney's England team-mate Phil Jagielka, the Everton defender, pictured alongside him.

The FA is to review how free overnight time will be spent but, i n contrast, leading Premier League managers, including Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, have come to defend defence of Rooney.

Atkinson, who has reflected on his time in the game in a new book 'The Manager', feels the current scenario "is still very much the same" as it was when he took over at Old Trafford in 1981, although now played out in a much-changed public arena.

"It was not a culture just particular to Manchester United, I think the majority of clubs all had players that enjoyed a night out," Atkinson said to Press Association Sport.

"However, and this is where people tend to get it wrong, the night out would be at the right time, there would not be any the night before a game, even two nights before a game or anything like that.

"If the boys were going out for a drink, very often the captain would let the manager know, so the next morning you would probably give them a good sweat session afterwards."

Atkinson, who guided the Red Devils to FA Cup success twice before spells at the likes of Atletico Madrid, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, added: "I think it is still very much the same.

"Obviously sometimes the players are having a night out, but if it was the night before a game, then that is a different kettle of fish, but very often it is sort of two or three nights (before).

"The unfortunate thing is now with the modern day technology, you have to look out for social media and mobile phone cameras."

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn, meanwhile, confirmed the governing body would establish the facts before deciding how to proceed .

"We're getting a proper investigation of what actually went on - 'were there other FA staff involved - yes or no?' - and we're doing a review of it obviously," he told Sky Sports News HQ on Thursday.

"It's disappointing. I think it's appropriate he apologised because it doesn't set a great tone for the England captain but, that said, I don't want to over-dramatise it either."

Glenn added: "We're talking to anyone who was there on Saturday night to find out if anyone from the backroom staff was involved and then we'll take a view, but we don't know what the facts are yet.

"I think it'd be 'why on earth are you doing that given there is an understanding, a team agreement around alcohol consumption during camps?', so there would be questions asked for sure."

Liverpool manager Klopp, meanwhile, believes a sense of perspective needs to be taken, and whatever went on was "not really serious".

"These boys, this generation, is the most professional generation of footballers - not only in England, but (the) England (team), too, that there has ever been," the German said.

"All the guys, all the legends we love and admire they drank like devils and smoked like crazy, but they were still good players. No one does it any more. I don't know anyone now.

"I have no idea where Wayne was, but I'm pretty sure it's not really serious."

Press Association

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