Peter Reid: A day when you dare not let your fans down
Peter Reid knows all about the dramas of a relegation battle It's the biggest game you will face but it's no use walking into the dressing room and saying: 'Where's that whisky bottle?' As a manager you have to be strong, be clear in your message. I've experienced both sides. I went down with Sunderland in 1997 after Coventry won at Spurs and I stayed up with Leeds when we beat Arsenal at Highbury. In the build-up you try anything to lighten the mood. Head tennis and keepy-uppy competitions in training, trips to the seaside, films, videos, comedians. When I played for Everton Howard Kendall brought in a comedian and he was so bad he was funny. By the time he had finished we were all laughing ... he was that bad. I've tried it myself, cracking jokes with Leeds in 2003. Luckily they were good ones. We went to Arsenal and they were still in with a shout of the title. There were a lot of similarities with Newcastle. The club had been in turmoil but still had big-name players. I went round the dressing room and I underlined how good our players were. Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell had played in Champions League semi-finals and international tournaments. Fortunately, they won the game for us. Peter Reid and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger at Highbury in 2003, where Leeds won 3-2 to stay up in the Premier League Really, the players are the lucky ones. At least they can do something about it but as amanager you are in knots on the touchline. The fans have a massive role. The best pre-match talk I ever had was the FA Cup third round at Stoke when Howard Kendall opened the window of our dressing room and all you could hear was Everton fans chanting. Howard just said: 'You can't let them down.'
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