Glenn's A Wilko Fan

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Glenn Roeder comes face to face with Howard Wilkinson in his first game as Sunderland boss this weekend and says: I am one of your biggest fans.

While Glenn, by his own admission, would not even begin to compare himself with the more experienced Wilkinson, one similarity does have to be acknowledged.

As when Glenn took over last year, and before a ball had been even kicked under his tutelage, Wilkinson has already been judged by many as the wrong man for the job.

But Glenn is having none of it and says:

"People seem to have short memories in this game; I have got huge respect for Howard Wilkinson and I know exactly what he has done in his managerial career - it has been immense.

"He was the last Englishman to have led a team to the League title and that was a magnificent achievement at Leeds.

"I will not be underestimating Howard Wilkinson's impact at Sunderland but hopefully it will take until after Saturday.

"In the bigger picture, though, I am sure it will be crystal clear what he wants and expects from his players."

One of the criticisms of Howard is that he has been out of touch with club management while working as the FA's technical director - but Glenn says the legacy he will leave behind from that role will benefit the game across the country.

"Other people might be underestimating Howard but I am certainly not - I am one of the people that has been really impressed by what he has done at the FA for the last five years introducing our academy system and in the next five, 10, 15 years we will be rolling off top class international players from the academy system," he insists.

"It will basically be due to the efforts he and his team put into that at the FA.

"He had a great team underneath him, with people like Les Reed and many other people that I know and could name if the list wasn't too long.

"I am a great believer in what Howard has set up; the academy, which is being tweaked all the time to make it better, is only five years in conception, will need longer because the 10 year olds will be 20 then and that is when we should be judging them coming off the production line.

"But give it another five years and they will start rolling off; we have got the raw materials in this country - i.e. the kids that play football.

"They have fantastic qualities in terms of mental strength and desire, and if we get the technical ability that will be brought out by the academy, we will be the force that every English fan wants us to be.

"The important thing is that we will be turning out more and more top drawer English players to play at our clubs.

"That can only be good, and I think in many years to come people will look back on the role Howard played at the FA and will hold him in the highest esteem.

"The important thing for Howard is that the people who really count in football, the real ones who understand the game, highly respect him.

"He has done a brilliant job for five years and obviously the lure of club management became too much for him to turn down the opportunity at Sunderland.

"Other people might say this and that but I am very respectful of Howard's achievements - they are impressive."