Date:Monday April 9 2007
Former U’s man rejects Huddersfield to ponder next managerial move
During his twilight years as captain at Reading, Phil Parkinson felt his legs going, so decided it was time to develop the non-football side of his brain by gaining a Social Science degree; if you try to analyse his moves, however, you might be left scratching your head.
Last week, Charlton’s assistant manager, previously a promotion winning boss at Colchester, turned down the chance to manage League One Huddersfield, a hour before he was due to be unveiled as the club’s new manager, having agreed terms.
This was a bizarre U-turn, since he had already accepted the post. “The chance to work with Alan Pardew at such a high level was too good to turn down,” said Parkinson, which looks like a case of loyalty in action.
Charlton, after all, are involved in a relegation fight – although that didn’t stop them from recently teaming up with Merlin to break a bizarre Word Record for the biggest ever football sticker (of Darren Bent).
Parkinson though, insists he is still “learning all the time” from Pardew, and prior to the nil-all draw at Manchester City last weekend, probably felt obliged not to leave his close friend at this crucial stage of the season.
It was because of Pardew’s encouragement, before their days together at The Vally, that Phil took the Colchester job, his first foray onto management.
As he recalled, on the eve of his most famous tie in the dugout at Layer Road, an FA Cup game against Chelsea, in 2005: “Alan Pardew, my boss at Reading, rung to say he had received a very strange phone call from Colchester.”
“They wanted me to go for an interview to be their new manager. I hadn’t applied for the job. My playing days were petering out and I’d been offered a place on the Reading coaching staff. Alan advised me to go along for the experience.”
The rest, as they say, is history: “I wanted to keep playing at Colchester but the chairman insisted management would be enough on its own. He was right. And had obviously seen me play.”
So Chorley-born Parkinson set about trying to create the conditions necessary for success – and did so – before eventually leaving for Hull, following promotion to the Championship year, after three seasons with the club.
His decision to jump ship still mystifies U’s fans even now; the media later claimed it all happened over a salary dispute.
The faithful, like their former manger, have moved on though, but his rejection of last week’s opportunity of a return to management, which Huddersfield described as “an amazing offer,” revived memories of the injunction row that followed him out of Essex.
One thing universally agreed about the man who graduated from the same football academy as Alan Shearer, is that he knows how to spot a player – try Colchester’s investments Craig Fagan, Neil Danns, Chris Iwelumo or Jamie Cureton for size.
His managerial style typifies that of the modern English breed, too, and in his own words in 2005: “The hairdryer is not for me,” he said. “I like to treat players with respect, and get respect back from them in turn. For me, the days of rating and raving at players after a match are long gone.”
On that, at least, he was clear – no use for age-old bullying techniques in a modern world of aptitude over dressing-room arguments.
If Parkinson currently gives the outward impression, though, that he is not entirely sure which way his career will go from here, there is no need to read between the lines. Nor treat the situation like a case study from one of his old social science classes.
The truth is probably that he just doesn’t know yet.
Date:Monday April 9 2007
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