Grezza: ‘Clarke opened my eyes’

Graham Alexander and Clarke Carlisle in action for Burnley
Graham Alexander and Clarke Carlisle in action for Burnley
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Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander admits his friendship with Clarke Carlisle has helped open his eyes to the needs of his players.

Former Blackpool and Burnley defender Carlisle admitted earlier this month he’d tried to take his own life in an incident involving a lorry in North Yorkshire.

Alexander was Carlisle’s room-mate when the pair were at Turf Moor and he visited his former team-mate in hospital.

And he believes getting to know the 35-year-old has helped develop the skills he needs as a manager away from the field of play.

“To be honest knowing Clarke so well towards the end of his career, listening to his problems, his past, opened my eyes a little,” said Alexander.

“I was probably a little bit old fashioned, just get on with it, pull yourself together, that kind of thing.

“That’s how it can be if you don’t understand the problems that different people can have.

“I’ve known Clarke for a good few years and listening to him speak helps you realise not everybody is the same.

“It has led to me being more sympathetic to all sorts of problems for all sorts of people, of all ages and all outlooks.

“I’ve got Clarke to thank for that and it’s helped me in my job.

“I’m dealing with 20, 30, 40 people and they are all different.

“You have to have an open mind to deal with that.”

Many associate the job of a football manager with tactical decisions, transfers and team selection, but Alexander made it clear his role goes a lot deeper.

“You’re everything to them but a mate,” he joked.

“You have to deal with everything.

“There’s the other staff too, they help on that side of it.

“But at the end of the day you want the best for those around you and if you can help them with your experience, a sympathetic ear, it’s important.”

And in his brief management career, Alexander has already run across the kind of issues with a player which make his job about far more than football - including one member of his team supporting a family member through cancer.

“We have had problems,” said Alexander.

“Matty Blair had the issue with his brother being ill and you have to think family comes first.

“You have to be sympathetic to these things, problems people have.

“What I learned from knowing Clarke is you always have to have an open mind.”

“Not everyone is the same.

“Everyone’s got different mentalities, different problems, different lifestyles, uprbringings.

“They all get chucked into one pot when they come to a football club.”