Leroy Rosenior enjoyed three spells with Fulham as a player and had two managerial stints at Torquay. Here, he discusses the Cottagers’ hopes of returning to the Premier League and the Gulls’ chances of preserving their National League status.
On Fulham’s promotion push…
“They look like a very decent side at the moment. What pleases me is they are stable. They had a rather tricky period over the last three years having dropped out of the Premier League but they’ve now got a manager who really understands the Championship. He’s built a good squad, which is currently on form. If they get to the play-offs it would be a massive achievement but if not they’ve got a really good platform for next season.
“Fans will be delighted with the stability now – it’s something that has always been present at the club. Slaviša is the kind of manager that understands this and is moving the club in a really nice direction. No longer are teams coming to Craven Cottage and expecting to win, they know they’ve got a game on their hands.”
On Jokanovic, his strengths and management style…
“He’s a very good coach, especially in developing individuals. I know he’s had a problem with the language but I don’t ever see this as a problem. He gets his message across quickly and encourages his players well. He has a great style of football and is very consistent in what he does.
“Fulham is a development club, as well as one that obtains instant results, and he’s kept that culture going by bringing through younger players while ensuring he has a good mix of youth and experience. I think the fans are very happy with him so far, he works hard and is a great communicator of what he wants.”
On Ryan Sessegnon and his potential…
“At 16, people say it’s down to him. In my opinion he needs as much help as possible – he has unbelievable potential at that age and he can really choose his destiny. What’s really pleasing it that he’s at the right place for him, in the right environment, and he needs to continue to develop at Fulham. You look at the likes of Paul Parker and Dean Coney, who developed brilliantly at Fulham.
“Fulham isn’t a club that naturally attracts the limelight, so it’s the perfect club for him to get his head down and continue to work without all the media pressure. Sometimes the wrong move can really hurt your career, look at John Bostock. He was at a great club that developed good players and left too early. Ryan needs to be reminded that the rewards will come in time, you don’t get everything upfront. The more patient you are, the more you are rewarded.”
On Moussa Dembele, his rise in Scotland and what’s next…
“I think Moussa made the right move. However, and this is no disrespect to the Scottish League, Celtic aren’t facing enough competition – they’re too far ahead. He’s playing in a side that dominates games week in, week out. His confidence will be sky high at the moment and the next step for him will be the most important one.
“To me, Arsenal are the perfect club for his next step. He needs Premier League competition to really showcase what he can do. He’s quick, strong and a lethal finisher and has all the attributes to play in the best league in the world. He knows London but to be honest, if I was him, I would avoid Spurs, Chelsea and West Ham and go to Arsenal – a club that develops players.”
On Fulham’s recruitment policy and disputes between Craig Kline and Jokanovic…
“If the manager is not happy with the recruitment process then they need to change it. The key with recruitment is to base it on a mixture of stats and watching the player. You only really watch the player if the stats are good, that’s why so many clubs pay data analysts. You need to identify players who fit your club and stats are, in all honesty, the way to do that. Once you’ve done this, then you go and watch them a few times.
“So I think Craig and Slaviša need to find a balance between the two to effectively work and select the best players.”
On Gloucester’s new stadium plans and the boost it will give the city…
“I’m absolutely delighted. When I was there we had a fantastic facility at Meadow Park and then seeing it under 10 foot of water was absolutely heart-breaking. I went down a few years ago and did a Q&A with the Gloucester fans that said they were determined to come back. They would realise there’s a lot of hard work to do to see a Gloucester City stadium up and running again and they need as much support as possible from the football family out there.
“Even I would do some bricklaying to help – every bit helps. I’m really pleased they got the go-ahead and I look forward to watching a game in the not too distant future in Gloucester City.”
On Torquay’s season so far, Kevin Nicholson and their chances of survival?
“Kevin Nicholson has done an absolute amazing job in what seems to be the most difficult circumstances ever. He is working with next to nothing and I know what that feels like. People will point to the fact the club are just above the relegation zone but if they can stay there, it will be an incredible achievement.
“As a young manager, he had the guts to take the job and he’ll mature as a manager because of it. The fans are great, they are fighters and will do everything to stay up and I really hope they do. They will be resigned to losing their best players so it’s going to be tough but I wish them all the best and will be keeping one eye on results.”
On his book “It’s Only Banter” and whether actions have been taken to reduce racism…
“The book is about me, my father and Liam – I wanted to give a snapshot of our experiences, going from the fifties when my father came over to where we are now and everything we’ve been through. I think the main thing is that I wanted to show people how I dealt with the abuse, bringing people together rather than alienating them. I suffered a lot of racial abuse during my playing career and I wanted to note everything down on paper.
“In today’s game, racism is really high up the FA and Premier League agenda. Sometimes I’m frustrated with the way things are dealt with, I would have dealt with it a different way. We need to just send the message out there that it’s unacceptable – they need to take it seriously. You know sometimes a fine just isn’t acceptable in my eyes. I always look at Malky Mackay’s statement on accusations of racial abuse, citing friendly banter and I was really upset with him. I put out a statement on radio to say this is simply unacceptable in today’s world and Malky came in front of camera following this and apologised. I thought this was brilliant and more people should front up and apologise.
“He went through a long period of education to find out more. You can’t ask for anyone to do anymore than that. He didn’t expect that short, sharp shock and his reaction was perfect – he had the guts to apologise. I want people to be made to realise this is unacceptable. There are bigots out there who simply won’t change their mindset but the majority of people sometimes do things that aren’t correct and aren’t told at the time in the right way – they need to have a better understanding. That is what the book is about – trying to find solutions in a world where there are more misunderstandings about different colours and different religions then there’s ever been.”
:: In his book ‘It’s Only Banter’, Leroy Rosenior – whose parents were born and raised in Sierra Leone before arriving in Britain in the early 1950s – discusses how he dealt with racism during his playing career and son Liam following in his footsteps among other things.