Belfast Telegraph

Laudrup sacking brings back Glenavon memories

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

With Jim Gracey

In my rare excursions onto the after-dinner speaking circuit, the tale that invariably brings down the house is of Glenavon's ill-fated European Cup Winners Cup foray to Finland in 1991.

It just wasn't so funny at the time. We had a clique of out of control players (much to the chagrin of their dedicated professional team-mates) bevied on the plane, poured off the team bus and running amok in the hotel. When they weren't whooping it up in the nightclub and casino, they were skinny dipping in the pool. And that was before the match.

Small wonder they blew a 3-2 first leg lead, lost 2-1 and went out on away goals, costing them a money-spinning next round tie against Roma and manager Terry Nicholson his job.

I thought about that trip when cliques and discipline were cited as the reason for Swansea's surprise sacking of Michael Laudrup.

It has emerged when they went to Dubai for a training camp, much of the time was spent drinking. Like the Glenavon of old, the more sensible players wanted discipline and didn't get it.

Like Terry, Laudrup had his Swans playing good football and was well liked; too tolerant with liberty-taking players and oblivious to the sea change in the boardroom when costly results stopped the laughter.

The moral of the story is you only sing when you're winning. The good news for Laudrup is that football life goes on, the irrepressible Terry recently turning out in goal in the Mid-Ulster league on his 70th birthday.

The bad news for Terry is that he didn't walk away from the party with a £4.5m pay-off.

Belfast Telegraph


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