Tony Cottee: Football decisions should be made by football people, not the police

As a nation we really have gone a little bit soft over the last few years,"" says Tony Cottee

As a nation we really have gone a little bit soft over the last few years.

Out of all the Premier League games called off at the weekend, the only one to be postponed because the pitch was unplayable was the Wigan game. The rest did not take place because of conditions outside the stadium.

Obviously health and safety is important, but those 30,000 odd fans who would have turned up at Upton Park to watch the Hammers play Wolves on Sunday, would have done other things instead.

What's the difference between walking through a car park at a supermarket or a car park at a football club?

We have let ourselves get in a situation where people sue at the drop of a hat and that to me is very sad.

It was the police who basically called the game off and in my opinion they get too involved in football matters and I would like to see the game dictated by football people.

Most Read

That used to be the way it was done and games used to be called off on the basis of how bad the pitch is.

When I played, the referee would turn up and make the decision and if he wanted to, he would consult with the managers and take it from there.

I remember one game in 1986 when we went to Ipswich in what was terrible weather and a lot of snow had been falling in the area.

We just changed to a orange ball and played the game and no-one was any worse off for it.

I am sure there were a lot of people like me frustrated that the game did not go ahead, but from the football side of things it could be a bit of a blessing in disguise.

The club have suffered a lot of injuries lately and if Gianfranco Zola was offered to play the game now, or in March, when he would probably have a lot more players fit and I know what option he would chose.

Carlton Cole would not have played, while Mark Noble and Jack Collison are recovering from injuries, so it gives them more time to recover and that can only be a good thing.

The manager in this last week has said that none of the star English players will leave the club.

I spoke in this column last week about how he might have to sell one of them for the good of the club so he can bring more players in but it looks like he would rather keep his squad together.

There has been talk in the press about Valon Behrami leaving, but his agent has come out and said there have been no offers and he wants top help the club stay in the Premier League.

He will have a big part to play this season and it is so important that we hang on to him.

In an ideal world you would obviously want to keep your best players and still bring players in, but that seems unlikely to happen.

There are only a couple of weeks left so it is looking less and less likely that anyone will leave and, with a lot of takeover talk doing the rounds, it is unlikely we would let anyone go as the player would be seen as an asset for potential investors.

I think the squad as it is, is strong enough to survive in the Premier League and Franco obviously feels the same, but it is imperative that we keep everyone fit and healthy as further injuries would really hurt our chances.

There is no doubt that the game at Aston Villa this weekend will be a tough encounter, but West Ham can take some comfort in that they have lost a few games of late.

They lost at home to Liverpool and were thumped at Arsenal, so that would have knocked their confidence a bit.

However, at the end of the day they are one of the best teams in the country.

They are a top-six side and they are really exciting to watch going forward.

They work so well on the counter attack and it is imperative we stop James Milner and Ashley Young.

Milner has had a tremendous season so far and is playing well in the middle of the park, while Young's curling deliveries could cause a lot of problems.

John Carew and Emile Heskey are a handful up front, but I do feel at times they can be got at defensively.

Mark Noble and Jack Collison will hopefully be back and both have played well lately. They have great energy and could make a real impact on Saturday.

I played under Martin O'Neill at Leicester City so I know how good a manager he is.

When it comes to motivating a team I don't believe there is anyone better than him and he is a brilliant man-manager.

When I first arrived at Leicester I was not in the best shape and was slung in the reserves where I had to prove myself.

But I worked hard and he was really good with me and gave me a chance in the first team.

He is a fantastic boss and I hope that apart from Saturday, that Villa have a really good season.