Belfast Telegraph

Ron Atkinson: Footballers liked a drink in the 1980s and still do

Former Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson says players enjoying a drink on a night out remains as much a part of English football culture now as it was in the 1980s.

The Football Association is conducting a "proper investigation" to establish what England captain Wayne Rooney and any of its staff did on Saturday night at the team's base in The Grove Hotel.

Rooney has ''unreservedly'' apologised to interim England manager Gareth Southgate, the FA and football supporters in general following the emergence of ''inappropriate'' images.

It is alleged Rooney dropped in on a wedding party, with the Sun newspaper printing a photo appearing to show the Manchester United forward, wearing an England training top, looking the worse for wear.

Another photo, used by the Mirror newspaper, showed Rooney's England team-mate Phil Jagielka, the Everton defender, pictured alongside him.

Atkinson , who has reflected on his time in the game in a new book 'The Manager', feels the current scenario "is still very much the same" as it was when he took over at Old Trafford in 1981, although now played out in a much-changed public arena.

"It was not a culture just particular to Manchester United, I think the majority of clubs all had players that enjoyed a night out," Atkinson said to Press Association Sport.

"However, and this is where people tend to get it wrong, the night out would be at the right time, there would not be any the night before a game, even two nights before a game or anything like that.

"If the boys were going out for a drink, very often the captain would let the manager know, so the next morning you would probably give them a good sweat session afterwards."

Atkinson, who guided the Red Devils to FA Cup success twice before spells at the likes of Atletico Madrid, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, added: "The unfortunate thing is now with the modern day technology, you have to look out for social media and mobile phone cameras."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: "All the guys, all the legends we love and admire, they drank like devils and smoked like crazy - but they were still good players. No one does it any more. I don't know anyone now.

"I have no idea where Wayne was, but I'm pretty sure it's not really serious."

The FA has confirmed that overnight free time will now be reviewed - and England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones observed: " The time we have to have a curfew is the time we don't have a leadership group within the team."

Captain Dylan Hartley added: "We just trust the guys to do the right thing. Luckily we haven't had any issues as of yet. If you treat men like men, you get men."


From Belfast Telegraph