Football interviews you won't find in any magazine
Dion Dublin played for Norwich, Cambridge, Barnet, Manchester United, Coventry, Aston Villa, Millwall, Leicester and Celtic – and in late October 2012, FourFourTwo's Joe Brewin managed to ask him about most of those teams…
Let’s start with the Capital One Cup: who do you fancy for it this season?
You’ve gone straight for the throat, I like it. I don’t know really, taking away the Man Uniteds and the Chelseas, I feel like it might be, not one of the smaller ones, but I think it might be something like a Spurs.
Norwich are playing Spurs at home which will be a difficult tie for them, but someone like a Leeds could shock a few to be fair. Aston Villa are away at Swindon, so Villa might surprise people by having a bit of silverware, you don’t know after having a bit of a stinker so far this season and not really pulling up any trees. It's hard to look beyond Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool. If I’m going to put my hat on anything, I hope Man United win it but I think Spurs might have a chance.
The competition is a bit maligned in some quarters: do you think that’s justifiable?
I just think it’s overlooked. It’s sad, really: it’s a chance to get silverware and a chance for Europe. I think the importance does vary for the size of club you are. I can sometimes understand the bigger clubs wanting to put out players that don’t play very often and maybe some of the younger players, but it's still a chance of silverware.
Perhaps the pick of the fourth round is Chelsea vs Manchester United, which way do you see that one going?
It's always a difficult one for United, away at Chelsea; having been there myself with other clubs it’s been a really hard place to get anything at all. That fixture, whether it's league or cup, is huge. I’m not going to sit on the fence: I think United might just nick it by a goal.
How do you see your old club Manchester United's season panning out?
It’s going to be difficult – they haven’t really had any stability in the squad to pick from yet, week in week out. Sir Alex Ferguson has had injuries as always but again it's not an excuse, everybody has them. I do feel that they’ll be in the top two or three. I’d like to see them win it, I’d like to see them get back to winning ways, it’s just that everybody’s getting better, squads are getting better. Chelsea’s squad is outstanding, they’re all world-class footballers, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard and players like that, in one side a manager has a selection headache of world-class players.
Villa have a potentially tricky one at Swindon...
Yes, I hope they don’t trip up on that one because that one will be a downer to their season, even more so than the way it’s gone so far. One thing I will say about Villa is that I do like Paul Lambert; I think he’s a good manager. I think he'll turn things round, it's just will he get the time from the people above him and the fans? Having known the Villa fans well, they do lose their sense of humour very quickly when their team's not doing well: he has his work cut out.
Things aren’t running too smoothly for Villa at the moment, can you put your finger on why that is?
I don’t think Aston Villa as a football club have got enough good players. If you look at the squad that I was in, Paul Merson, George Boateng, Stan Collymore, David James, Ugo Ehiogu, Gareth Southgate, Steve Staunton – all well-known Premier League footballers. We didn’t achieve anything either, so I’m not pulling the ladder up, but that is a much better squad – 10 times better than the manager has at the moment. Paul Lambert needs a bit of help, they do need to loosen the purse strings a bit and let the manager do his job and bring some players in.
Moving on to Norwich, another former club of yours, they're at home to Tottenham...
You’re going to have to say that another 10 times: "another former club Dion"! It’ll be difficult for Norwich, although they had a great result recently at home to Arsenal. It’s about the consistency of beating these kind of sides. Sounds silly but they're not the type of teams that are going to make a difference to Norwich, they’ve got to beat the teams around them.
This one’s a bit of a one-off. I think Spurs have slipped and I saw them lose at home to Norwich last season. Norwich will know they can upset Spurs and Spurs will now be, if not exactly on the back foot, thinking to themselves "Hold on here, this team can play, they are at home, they have good ethics and a very good manager in Chris Hughton." Spurs will be on their toes and I think it'll be Norwich rather than Spurs having the confidence.
Norwich aren't far from the drop zone. If you had to name the three teams who'll go down, who would it be?
It's difficult. I don’t think Reading have done too well. Norwich will find it hard this season, even though they had a great result recently against Arsenal – unfortunately you've got to be consistent. Villa won’t go down, they need to turn it around and they’ll be in that fight but I don’t think they’ll go down. I do think Reading will struggle, I’m hoping Norwich don’t struggle but in recent weeks it’s looked that way. Those two teams at least will be in and about.
Keeping with the theme but moving away from the cup, another of your old clubs Coventry are in a bit of a bad state at the moment. It must make you sad when you see them today.
It does, having been at the football club. At the time, the League Cup was a big thing for the Coventry players. It was a chance to move forward and get closer to Wembley and silverware so we took it incredibly seriously. I was there with Gary McAllister, Gordon Strachan, Oggy [Steve Ogrizovic] – you know, good players. We didn’t achieve anything, but we were in the Premier League. Looking at where Coventry are now, it’s sad. The Ricoh is a Premier League stadium... it’s ridiculous.
Do you think they can restore themselves back to the top? How difficult is it to work your way back up once the financial struggles hit you?
It’s difficult because it just takes a man of significant wealth to say "Here you go, I’ve got a few hundred million, and I’ll help you out no problem at all." They would have to believe in Coventry City and they would have to believe in football, and they would have to put a lot of money in. I don’t think Coventry has been run well at all.
I don’t think it was run well when I was there either: there were things going on there where I thought things were a bit strange, if you're in the situation where you're fighting relegation I don’t know how you can give yourself a bonus. I remember staying up once at Spurs away – we won 2-1, I scored and I think Paul Williams got the other; Ron Atkinson was the manager and I said after we’d won: “Gaffer that was a great result, can we have a celebration somewhere?” and he said “What are you celebrating?” We didn’t really achieve anything then but the club's just gone from to worse to worse.
Finally among your old clubs, hometown team Leicester, flying high in the Championship...
And rightly so!
Have you managed to see them at all this season?
Haven’t had a chance so far, but I’ve seen the highlights and they seem to play good football. One thing I do like about Leicester City is that the fans will come out regardless, rain or shine. Having had two years there, I loved it, it's a great hometown club with lots of belief in the football club.
I personally have a lot of belief in the manager, Nigel Pearson. He manages players very well, he understands his ethics and he understands what he’s trying to achieve and I think players this season are saying to themselves "Let's listen to the manager, he knows what he’s doing." He was welcomed back with open arms and I think 99% of the fans said "Yes please, let's have him back."
They’ve spent a lot of money – Sven spent a lot on decent footballers but didn’t get the best out of them, he probably didn’t manage them in the way they needed to be managed. But Leicester City shouldn't be in the Championship, they're doing what needs to be done to push towards the Premier League.
Dion, it’s been impossible to get away from the ‘Kick It Out’ saga, with some players refusing to wear the organisation's shirt before their games. You’ve done your bit for that body before: if you were playing the other weekend would you have worn the shirt?
It's difficult to answer that question, although I knew it would come up in the interview. When you're out of the game you don’t know what’s going on in the game; once you're out of the bubble of football you don’t get a chance to find out the real reasons why these decisions are made. I don’t know, I would have definitely thought about it carefully, if I had have thought to myself that I needed to make a stand then I wouldn’t have worn the T-shirt. It’s knowing 100% of the facts in order to make a decision that strong. People like Rio [Ferdinand] and Jason Roberts have made their stand and as a black person I stand by them and their decision, but if I was to make that decision I would have to know all the facts first and foremost.
Do you think there’s much point in wearing a messaged shirt if it only exposes those who don’t join in?
They obviously wanted to be exposed, it’s a point they wanted to make; people have sat up and noticed that they're not wearing their shirts and why. The boys had every right to make that decision, they stand by their decision. Like I said before it’s difficult for me to say because I don’t know 100% of the facts what’s going on inside the game.
Do you think it would have been more important if they made a statement rather than a gesture, or is that in the pipeline?
I think Jason Roberts has actually made a statement in an online interview. He has put his put his points across, as far as I’m aware.
Finally Dion: can you play Snooker Loopy on your Dube?
Snooker Loopy, oh my gosh. How old are you by the way, are you older than me? That’s ridiculous – who was it from Chas or Dave?
Do you reckon you could, that’s the most important thing?
You can’t play lyrics on a drum. Yes, I could do that, no problem.
Dion Dublin was speaking to FourFourTwo on behalf of Capital One, the credit card company and sponsors of the League Cup. Visit facebook.com/capitaloneuk.
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