ONE HUNDRED and eleven years ago a youngster called Charlie Miller went back to his family home in Brazil, took a couple of footballs and introduced the South Americans to the game.

Three months ago another young fella from Middlesbrough arrived in Southampton.

At first it was announced he had joined the club to learn.

Two weeks ago I was very interested, and not a little surprised, to read a face-to-face interview with this new guru, Simon Clifford.

The headlines on the first night asked: 'If gymnasts, athletes, boxers and swimmers get up at 4am to train, why don't footballers?' I showed it to my 89-year-old mother-in-law, who came up with the answers.

"Boxers only do that when they're preparing for a fight and they like to do lots of road running - and it's easier to do that before there's too many cars on the road.

"The swimmers and others have to use the public facilities before anyone else and also before they then go off to work or school."

Paula Radcliffe and Kelly Holmes, incidentally, are full-time athletes and certainly don't get up at that time in the morning.

No doubt the newcomers to our game will look on comments from people like myself as being cynical, bitter and twisted, people from a bygone age.

I am in Trinidad at an FA conference at the moment but I was interested to hear Harry Redknapp's comments, with which I totally agree.

People like Ron Greenwood was ahead of his time as was one of my old managers at Sheffield Wednesday, Alan Brown. He invented shadow training for instance.

Don Revie was famous for his dossiers. He also happened to win a thing or two.

Bill Shankly introduced the sweat box to the training ground - four large structures like cricket sight screens in a square numbered from one to four on the inside. A player or two would go in with a ball instructed by a coach on the outside telling him which wall to hit.

It was a form of pressure training which improved accuracy, balance, touch and fitness. Liverpool and Shanks had quite a bit of success as well.

I wouldn't have commented at all had Mr Clifford still been at the club but now he has departed, and having read his comments, I feel I must stand up for the managers and coaches of the pro game who do a lot more work than they are given credit for.

I haven't spoken to or seen Stewart Henderson for probably ten years or more but I do remember him as being a loyal and highly effective professional footballer with Reading before coming to The Dell on the Saints staff, where he has been for nearly two decades, content to bring through, along with other staff, the youngsters who incidentally were rightly praised for reaching the final of last season's Youth Cup.

I can only imagine how he felt when he read Mr Clifford's comment that in one of his one-on-one sessions with Leon Best he said he was going to do defensive heading and the youngster apparently replied 'I've never done them before in my life.' I don't imagine for one minute that the youngster, who apparently is a forward, had not been taught how to come back and defend at set pieces.

Also, our friend had to get on the bandwagon being hooked up to Theo Walcott. It only needs the family milkman and midwife to do their interviews now.

How many people have heard of Robin Russell and Craig Simmons? I happen to have the pleasure of working with them this week and seeing the progress with which the FA coaching department have made over the years.

Some of the more enlightened clubs have used them in their academies and believe me, no matter what we are told in the south, there are some very superior academies around the country, and not just in the Premiership.

Crewe is a fine example, where they churn out youngsters year after year under the forward-thinking guidance of Dario Gradi.

Simmons has been with the FA for more than 20 years, in the business for nearly 30 years, working first as a physiotherapist and then breaking off for two years to take a masters degree in sports science. He was in charge of the first academy in Britain, the FA centre at Lilleshall where the likes of Michael Owen, Sol Campbell and Jamie Carragher all went before going back to their clubs.

I remember that, when the Dutch were the greatest team in the world, playing total football, and Johan Cruyff was mesmerising people with his step-overs, we played a pre-season friendly in Holland.

At the end of the game one of the players, rather than picking the ball up to hand to the ref, flicked it back on to his standing foot and sent the ball rolling up his leg into his hand. My players watched in amazement and spent the whole of the next training session trying to perfect it.

Although it wasn't his idea, it was picked up on by a man called Wim Coerver and his videos and DVDs are still on sale throughout the world. No doubt Mr Clifford hopes to do the same.

The fact is that, while apparently he has done a session for the FA coaching department and football clubs other than Saints, he has never actually been employed as a coach or performance director by any of the 92 League clubs - until he arrived at St Mary's.

His company apparently are one of a few who recently asked the FA to give them the stamp of approval. Mr Clifford didn't appear himself at the presentation and, along with most of the others, his company didn't get the Three Lions.

Mr Clifford's schools are just a franchise. Alan Ball, our own legend, has got two or three soccer schools himself in this area - to whom would you rather send your child?

Clifford recently said he didn't want to be known just as a 'keepie-up merchant,' there was more to him than that.

The problem as I see it is that there are a few people, as Harry points out, who think no one has ever had these ideas before - and that's because they have only come into the game recently themselves.

In fact, if anyone wanted to teach young players at Saints how to be more skilful, they need look no further, apart from the senior staff, than one of my old players, David Puckett, who would rank alongside another old Saint named David Burnside as two who could perfect every trick in the book. I'm also sure that if Dave Bassett, Kevin Bond or Dennis Rofe spent time working one-on-one they would not only improve the youngsters but also give them the benefit of their vast experience. The names might be different now but the moves have been there for years. The teaching of balance and ball control has always been a challenge which some can perfect and others find difficult but please don't try to tell us you're the first.

Apparently Mr Clifford did another interview in Scotland where he announced that, given 15 years, he would put the nation into the top three in the football world.

I read that both that interview and the Daily Echo interviews were pasted up around the training ground.

In that one action I'm afraid he lost all credibility at the level to which he aspires.