Tuesday, 1 June 2010

29 Jimmy Greenhoff

Position : Midfield

Played : 1982-3 to 1983-4

Appearances : 16

Goals : 0

The first of two player-managers (not counting caretakers) in our survey. Greenhoff's appointment to replace Peter Madden seemed to result from a home game against Port Vale on 6th November 1982 when Dale were leading 3-0 with 25 minutes to go. Vale brought on player-coach Greenhoff and Vale had a point by full time. By this time Greenhoff was 36 and had had an illustrious career with Leeds, Birmingham and Stoke before a glorious indian summer with Manchester United. He still is regarded as the best English player never to get a full cap. In 1981 he went to Crewe before a spell in America with Toronto Blizzard. He came back to England to the job with Vale scoring 5 in 48 appearances for them.

Vale got the last drops of juice from the can as far as playing went. In his appearances for Dale, Greenhoff (who was a heavy smoker off the pitch) took the role of midfielder a little too literally and never left the centre circle. I remember during his first game at home to Hereford the crowd were wildly applauding his every touch (not that there were many) but that soon wore off. The following season he only made 4 appearances a sad end to a great career.

As a manager the consensus amongst former players is that he was a nice guy who was too indecisive. I thought he made his big error at the end of his first season when he released too many of the squad; players like Hilditch, Snookes and Weir were better than their replacements. He improved the side's position by two places at the end of 1982-3.
The following year he achieved one or two good results, a 4-1 thumping of high-flying Reading, the ending of the away hoodoo at Blackpool and a 2-0 win in the FA Cup against runaway leaders York. That latter result led to the humiliation of defeat by Telford after which Greenhoff's days were clearly numbered.

After his sacking in March 1984 he went back to Vale in a non-playing role but soon was out of football and running an insurance company. That too failed to prosper and he now works for a drugs company as well as being a matchday host at Old Trafford.

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