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Connolly column: Pardew not a monster

David Connolly offers a defence of Alan Pardew over his recent 'moment of madness' and is full of praise for Southampton and their young stars.

Last Updated: 12/03/14 at 16:59 Post Comment

Alan Pardew: Will have instantly regretted his actions

Alan Pardew: Will have instantly regretted his actions

David Connolly has played and scored in every division in England, as well as in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord and internationally for the Republic of Ireland. He has got the highest possible UEFA coaching licence and is still playing in Sky Bet League Two for Oxford, on loan from Portsmouth.

Every Thursday, David will provide an insight into life as a footballer throughout the leagues in his exclusive column for TEAMtalk.

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United need middle man: David uses Michael Laudrup, Jose Mourinho and David Moyes to explain why he believes sporting directors could benefit English clubs.

Deadline Day great fun: David discusses transfer windows, training in Holland and England, and what he believes makes a good manager.

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Refs can be influenced: David explains how referees can be influenced, insists diving players should 'protect the sport', and talks penalties and fan owners.

More should follow Hitz: David discusses Thomas Hitzlsperger's revelation and explains why he's never used an agent in his first exclusive column for TEAMtalk.

Pardew not a monster

The incident involving Alan Pardew and David Meyler last weekend has had everybody talking and I know both, having played under Pardew twice and been at Sunderland when they signed Meyler.

Pardew has fought and scraped his way to the top as a manager and these qualities can sometimes carry over when players step into coaching or managing but it does need to be curbed.

Pardew has endured a tough season with a lack of signings and the disruption over who signs who so you can understand an incident like this happening as he is an emotional manager and maybe the pressure has told.

However, I know he would have immediately regretted it and one incident does not make you a monster.

I certainly don't believe he is a bully and when I played under him he didn't bully players like I know some managers do; he wouldn't humiliate them privately or publicly and he has lots of admirable qualities but he is emotional and this incident, in the heat of the moment, has done a lot of damage to him.

It is also reflective of the pressures on a Premier League manager and is a timely reminder for the emotional control those in charge need to have.

No doubt managing a club like Newcastle has increased pressure as that part of the world is football mad - and Pardew won't be the last to do something like this.

Technical areas are very close to the pitch at most stadiums and Pardew is a manager who has always stood in his area coaching so naturally is very close to the action.

Everyone will remember Jose Mourinho poking then-Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye during one heated match and

during my career I have witnessed other incidents where the manager has lost his cool, been confrontational and nearly physical.

Although it is unacceptable, I don't think you should judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. Maybe the pressures managers face are too great or perhaps some are not properly suited to managing people in high-pressure situations and are in a job that they are ill-equipped for.

When I look at the best managers around the world, they seem to have a calmness about them. The days of being a bully and lasting in football are gone; the emotionally intelligent ones are the ones that will survive nowadays.

Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez, Manuel Pellegrini, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Antonio Conte all have a calmness and very rarely speak ill of their own players publicly, and few stories emanate from within their clubs of an unhappy camp.

A sustained bully or inherently nasty person in football should be rightly brought to book but I don't believe Pardew is that.

Saints stars have families to thank

Southampton have been in the news lately with their English contingent doing so well internationally. I have spoken previously of my admiration of Adam Lallana having played alongside him at Saints, and now Luke Shaw has come to the fore.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also at St Mary's when I was there, and added to Gareth Bale, that is an impressive list of players. Pompey fans may not want to hear this, but they could have snapped up Oxlade-Chamberlain if they had been on the ball as he went to school in Portsmouth!

I have met both Adam and Alex's parents and they both have really good family support so that has helped them to fulfil their dreams

Talent is key, of course, but so many variables go into making it in football that it is hard to pin down one particular reason why Southampton have managed to bring through so many good young players.

I believe a lot starts at home, playing in the house, garden or on the street with your mates or your family. Being athletic, being dedicated, having someone to take you to training and so forth - all of this starts at home.

The likes of Lallana, Oxlade Chamberlian and Shaw would firstly credit their families for helping them the most but Southampton obviously deserve credit, too, having provided the coaching and a platform for them to shine and show their footballing worth.

Playing for a club like Southampton that in the past didn't have millions to spend on foreigners meant youth would always get a chance.

Everybody at the youth academy have had a part to play - coaches move on, as they do at every club, but if there is a philosophy at the club (which I have written about before) those in charge can rest easy knowing they have a structure in place to keep on producing these talents.

I have been lucky enough to do some coaching at most of my old clubs and at Sunderland the list of players to come out of the academy is fantastic. Jordan Henserson, Jack Colback and countless others that have gone on to have football careers is testament to their set up and in particular the youth coach when I was there, Kevin Ball, who now oversees the Under-21 side.

I saw first hand the coaching detail these young players received and it was brilliant. These days with academies training four or five times a week from age 11 upwards, compared to twice a week when I was the same age, can only improve their technique and build their core skills.

I was lucky to have a great youth team coach in Kenny Jackett and no doubt he had a big influence on my development, like Ball did with players like Henderson and many others.

Being at a club that has a pathway to play in the first team is vital alongside top coaching and technique but they really do need the help and support and sacrifice of their families to help them on their journey.

David Connolly's column comes to you courtesy of Sky Bet, the title sponsor of the Football League.

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