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Saturday, October 17, 1998 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK


Sport: Football

Hoddle in war of words over 'mutiny' claim

Spelling it out: The Sun's double page spread

Glenn Hoddle and Alan Shearer have united to condemn reports of a dressing room mutiny following England's midweek match in Luxembourg.


Neil Bennett: Hoddle and Shearer denounce 'vicious lie'
Coach Hoddle dismissed the story, carried in The Sun newspaper, as a "vicious lie".

Shearer was equally critical, describing the claims as "nonsense". He added: "I believe dressing room conversations are and should remain private. But I never used the words that appeared on the front page of The Sun today."


Sun reporter Brian Woolnough stands by his story (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The newspaper claims that after the game, which England won 3-0, Hoddle criticised the players, but Shearer snapped back: "Have you ever thought it might be you?"

At this point Hoddle turned on his heel and stormed out, the report alleges.

There were calls for him to quit following last week's goalless draw with Bulgaria at Wembley and Hoddle believes the story is a further attempt to destabilise his position.


[ image: Glenn Hoddle: Under pressure]
Glenn Hoddle: Under pressure
A statement issued on his behalf said: "Today's story about what happened in the England dressing room in Luxembourg is a vicious lie. I can only guess at why anybody should write it.

"They did so, of course, without ever trying to check what was said with either myself or Alan Shearer."

The statement adds: "If their aim is to undermine me, it has had the opposite effect. What they clearly aren't trying to do is to help England qualify for Euro 2000. That's what I want. So does Alkan Shearer. So do millions of people around the country."

But Sun journalist Brian Woolnough told Radio 5 Live that he stood by the accuracy of his story.

"This wasn't an off the cuff remark. It was a response to Hoddle asking asking his players 'What's gone wrong'," he said.


Glenn Hoddle: Vicious lies
"There was silence in the dressing room until Shearer spoke up with this remark. There was no fight, there was no punch-up, there were no fingers pointed - it was a cutting, cold remark made in response to the England coach's question to the players."

Woolnough defended the report, adding: "We are responding to what is happening within the England situation. People are not happy about it and the moment you get players questioning the manager's ability, I think it's very significant."

But England's assistant manager John Gorman, who was said to have broken the tension after the alleged exchange, branded the story an "absolute disgrace".

He said: "We felt that things could have been better in the game and Alan obviously had his opinion which was really just general. He gave his opinion but never was a word said about Glenn Hoddle being the reason."

Shearer's comments immediately after the game showed no signs of a bust-up with Hoddle.


[ image: Alan Shearer: Confidence is not great]
Alan Shearer: Confidence is not great
The Sports Minister, Tony Banks, told BBC Radio 5 Live that if Hoddle got results: "Everyone thinks he walks on water".

He added: "If he doesn't, they'll want to drown him in it. It's an impossible job and quite frankly I just think we would be better off rather than trying to undermine him and the team, actually getting behind him.

"The trouble with this country and football is that we have impossible, ridiculous expectations."

A goalless draw at Wembley against Bulgaria and a thoroughly unconvincing performance despite a 3-0 victory in Luxembourg, to add to defeat in Sweden last month, have put increasing pressure on Hoddle and his team.

The warning signs for Euro 2000 qualification are clear. England have just four points from their first three games, while Sweden and Poland both have six points from just two matches and have taken the upper hand in the group.

Hoddle must now rectify the inadequacies which in three months have turned a team brimming with confidence and with hopes of reaching the World Cup final into a fragmented side bereft of style and purpose.

He has until 27 March, when Poland come to Wembley, to turn his team around.





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