THESE days, when a Premier League player at a big club appears on the front page of a newspaper it’s normally for doing something wrong.

But that’s not the case with Marcus Rashford.

Premier League players are all accepted as being very wealthy compared to not just the man in the street but also footballers in lower divisions.

Marcus has accepted that but has never forgotten his roots.

He made us aware that he was raised by a single mother, who had five children, and that she had to rely on free meals when she sent them to school.

Marcus had realised that the Government had decided to stop giving free meals to 1.3 million children during the school holidays.

He then set about not only getting the Government to change that plan, but also raising £20million for a food charity called FareShare, which is an organisation I first heard of when our own club Saints started working with them to provide free meals to senior supporters and vulnerable families.

For one footballer to get the Government to change any decision is fantastic and, in my opinion, he should be in the next honours list.

It also showed what politics can sometimes be like when the Labour party tried to take some credit by saying that they had supported Rashford to get the Government to make a U-turn.

Having experienced myself as the manager of the Parliament Football Team, which was made up of players from all different parties, I know how popular the game is inside the Houses of Parliament.

So, please Labour, take a backstep on this one and let Marcus Rashford enjoy the praise and credit he deserves.


WE’VE spoken about how much television is being watched now due to the lockdown and I’m sure many supporters will be pleased to see top-flight football back on the small screen.

I have to say that I didn’t watch the whole of the two games but the first thing that impressed me was the atmosphere created by the crowd noises which I felt were well organised.

When, for instance, there was a good save or a good shot, the crowd cheered louder, so well done for getting this right.

However, it did cross my mind that when our neighbours Bournemouth - who have the smallest Premier League ground - are live on TV, I would suggest they find a way of borrowing the noise from Liverpool or Manchester United to give their players a bigger lift.

The other change, five substitutes allowed, meaning nine on the bench, plus staff, to choose from, made me think that building work would have to be done at The Dell to accommodate that - it was hard enough getting three of us on the bench!

The referee is also stopping the game for a minute in each half to give players time to have a drink.

I’m sure some of my players in the older days would have ordered a pint of brown ale or even a glass of gin and tonic!

The biggest talking point was the ‘goal’ that should have been allowed for Sheffield United, as the Aston Villa goalkeeper stumbled back over his line with the ball in his arms.

But the referee didn’t notice with the crowded six-yard box and, apparently, he would normally have been notified of the goal via a watch on his wrist.

He pointed at his watch and made it clear to the protesting players that the watch hadn’t awarded a goal.

But the company responsible for goal-line technology then apologised the day after for not awarding a goal which is fine - but how do you feel if you were managing Sheffield United?

They’ve missed out on an extra two points which, given how they’ve been playing, could make the difference in qualifying for a European competition.

Whereas the Villa manager, Dean Smith, would have been delighted with the extra point that could save them from relegation.


I REMEMBER recently saying how Ralph showed a sign of strong management when he spoke about the possibility of taking the captaincy away from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg because the player hasn’t shown any interest in staying at the club.

I was pleased to see he’s now handed the armband to James Ward-Prowse.

He, in fact, is one of the current players that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Anne and I were with Kevin Keegan and his wife, Jean, at a local restaurant when James and his father, John, walked over to say hello to all of us.

Kevin and I both said how impressed we were with both of them.

James has been with the club all the way through the youth system, battled his way into Ralph’s first team and has now been rewarded with the armband.

Having someone like him, who knows the history of the club and what it means to the supporters, as captain is a good thing.

On the pitch, he puts in 100 per cent every week and it was another good decision from Ralph.