Knight: Life with ‘off-the-wall’ Martin Allen

Barnet boss Martin Allen
Barnet boss Martin Allen
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AS A fledgling Fratton Park coach, he made players hide in the woods during training sessions.

Now Martin Allen is back at Fratton Park, this time as Barnet’s head coach, seeking to show Pompey what they are missing.

Paul Cook’s side entertain the newly-promoted Bees tomorrow as they attempt to bring to an end a disappointing run of two successive home draws.

This weekend’s opposition are currently sitting 21st in the League Two table – but in Allen they have a man in charge who Pompey legend Alan Knight believes will be desperate to make an impact.

The pair were once Blues team-mates, with Allen making 46 appearances and scoring four goals between 1995-97, before being forced to retire through injury.

He was then appointed reserve-team boss, at the beginning of a path which would take him to managerial jobs at Brentford, MK Dons, Leicester, Cheltenham, Notts County and Gillingham.

Allen also made the shortlist for the Blues position Cook filled in May – now he will find himself in the opposition dug out tomorrow.

Knight said: ‘Martin’s name was bandied around as the possibility of getting the job here, his name up there among the contenders.

‘Regardless, as an ex-player and coach at Pompey he will want to come here and put one over on us. Anyone who has previously been at a club feels the same.

‘I played with Martin and he was a tough player, a tough tackler who worked very hard, and good to have in your side. He was also a leader.

‘He picked up an injury with us and that was the end of his playing career, so instead took on the reserve manager role, which is a godforsaken job.

‘You had to deal with players coming out of the first team as well as youngsters coming through, but he did it well and I have the greatest of respect for the guy.

‘I remember we used to train at Wide Lane, across the road from Eastleigh, which had a forest beside it.

‘Part of the warm up was a routine called ‘camouflage’ where you had to go into the woods and hide behind bushes and trees. If he spotted you, you had to do 50 press ups!

‘If Martin wasn’t too impressed with a player he would leave him in there! He would make out he couldn’t find them, while they were too scared to come out, then he would hold the session without them.

‘He was a little bit off the wall, a little bit eccentric, but has now mellowed – that has come with age and experience.’

Barnet, who won the Vanarama Conference title last season, find themselves back in the Football League.

And Knight anticipates another tough challenge at Fratton Park.

He added: ‘In terms of recent home results, there should be no panic button hit at the moment.

‘The players should have confidence by the fact they have not been beaten in the league.

‘Martin being Martin, you never know what his game plan will be, it will be one he is weighing up.

‘As for Pompey, this team is a work in progress and very young, not only in age but when formed. Patience is required.’