Audio interview with Carlton Palmer from Talk Sport (file is 1.2 Mb), on Sunday at 6.45pm.
Sunday Telegraph :
Palmer has the legs for a new quest:
By John Percy
League two has rarely been a retirement home for England internationals in recent years, but this season they will be graced by a player who has polarised opinions ever since his seemingly never-ending legs first burst onto the scene in late 1984.
While Carlton Palmer, with 18 caps to his name, may be approaching his 40th birthday, he is ready to join former England colleague Paul Merson at Walsall and Carlisle's Paul Simpson as the only player-managers currently operating in the League.
A derelict-looking training ground overlooking an unattractive shopping precinct greets you on your arrival to Field Mill, but Palmer would undoubtedly bristle at the suggestion that his decision to become manager of Mansfield Town is a retrograde step. After he was appointed on a permanent basis in March, Palmer was charged with sifting through a squad of under-achievers. Now, after a hectic summer's transfer activity, Palmer will be juggling the roles of player and manager with the express aim of finding a way out of the division.
"I only want to play if I can enjoy it and my aim is to play every game," he said. "I'm not going to stop if I have a bad game. If I do, it won't be because I'm 39. That's a load of rubbish because I can outrun 23-year-olds at this club. Now I've got an assistant manager [Peter Shirtliff], I can concentrate on playing and there's no pressure on me to go out thinking about substitutions. Promotion is without doubt the aim. You have to set targets high and we want it to be automatic." While it will be his 21st campaign as a player, totalling nine clubs including Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, Palmer's career as a manager remains in its infancy. Two seasons at Stockport County taught him the pitfalls of the profession as he was sacked eight games into the 2003-04 season before launching a bitter court battle from which he ultimately emerged as the victor.
His arrival at Mansfield in November was also not without its difficulties. Appointed on a temporary basis following the acrimonious dismissal of Keith Curle, who is also seeking compensation through the courts, it came at an uncertain period for the club and he worked unpaid for five months until he was finally appointed manager. "It was difficult for me," he said. "I'd made my mind up to go into the media and had a three-year contract with the BBC, but I wanted to get back into the game. I assessed the squad and told the chairman that ability-wise they were good enough, but there were no incentives in their contracts. I got rid of a lot of players and, through the agents and players I know in the game, I've been able to get Premiership players in.
''I didn't make the best of starts. I got rid of the fans' favourites and received lots of abuse. I love Dave Jones to death, but when he took me to Southampton he should have got rid of Matt Le Tissier. He wasn't brave enough and ended up sacked. But I got a standing ovation from the supporters after last Tuesday's Sheffield Wednesday friendly, so that shows how it can change."
Through a quirk of fate, Palmer returns to Stockport on the season's opening day. He is entitled to feel bitter but, after a career in which he has often confounded the doubters, a win for Palmer the player would not be a surprise.
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