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Championship

Matt Holland's Blog 5

19 September 2012

Language can be a barrier and in football it's no different. That's why I think it's a sensible move by Gianfranco Zola to warn all of his Watford newcomers from overseas that they must quickly learn English - or face a stiff club fine.

These days most squads contain a plethora of foreign players but they have to integrate properly or you'll quickly come up against a series of problems. If, for example, four or five players don't speak English they'll stick to their own group for conversation, and that's when you get fractions in the camp.

If at lunch the same players sit together talking a different language it can raise suspicions over what they're discussing and that kind of divide isn't healthy inside a football environment. Everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet and if that means enforcing rules such as sharing the same lunch tables and talking in English only, then it has to happen.

I heard Tony Cascarino discussing this issue on the radio and he admitted it took him two years to learn French because most people would converse with him in English. It was only when he started to sense some resentment from team-mates, who were asking when he'd bother to embrace French, that he eventually got around to speaking in the native tongue, and he believes it helped his game no end once he'd done so.

Zola has taken on 16 new players, 12 of whom are loanees from Italy and Spain, so he has his hands full keeping them all happy and getting them to mix with the rest of the squad but it's a job that has to be done.

The set-up at Vicarage Road is an unusual one, with Zola not having final say on the players that are brought in, so it's crucial he gets the harmony right within the group.

Personally I'd prefer to sign for a club where I knew the manager had chosen me, but that's not the way at Watford this season and it will be fascinating to see how they fare. It's not begun too well for them but over the coming months, as everyone settles in, we should see a marked improvement.

Another struggling side right now are Peterborough United who must be reeling from a sixth straight npower Championship defeat.

I suspected this season would be a tough one for Posh. They have a small budget, they lost two fine players in Paul Taylor and Ryan Bennett, and there remains uncertainty over the futures of star men George Boyd and Grant McCann, too.

Chairman Darragh MacAnthony has spoken about his belief in the manager, the staff and players which is great to hear, but in the short term they quickly need to turn things around otherwise the campaign could be over before it's properly begun.

MacAnthony has used Blackpool as a marker for success at this level, rightly stating that the Tangerines used to survive on small gates before Ian Holloway inspired them to promotion - and there's nothing wrong with trying to emulate that model - but as it stands all that matters are victories and Posh desperately need to start finding them.

On a more positive note, how good were the goals from Craig Bellamy and Simon Cox on Saturday? If you haven't seen them, make sure you check then out online because both were simply unbelievable.

My favourite was Simon Cox's for Nottingham Forest against Birmingham City. The skill and technique he showed to control the ball and tuck it away were out of this world. I was talking to Birmingham's Darren Ambrose this week and he couldn't believe how good that goal was. He was explaining how he felt the Blues were playing okay but that things seemed to be conspiring against them and he admitted that's how they felt about the Forest man's incredible, unstoppable goal.

Talking of goals, what a start Jordan Rhodes has made to life in a Blackburn Rovers shirt. There's a look of real star quality about his movement and finishing.

To me, his big money signing will make or break manager Steve Kean's career. If he avoids injury, scores plenty and helps Rovers win promotion, the Scot will be viewed as a proper manager. If it doesn't work out, Kean might not be in his job too long.

It's a lot of pressure on Rhodes' shoulders but it appears he isn't fazed by it.


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