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Friday, 25 August 2006

3545: Review: Big Ron Manager

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by : Sam Cullen

Ah Sky One, the flagship of Rupert Murdoch's digital operation in the UK, home to The Simpsons, 24, and BIG RON?

I may have found myself involuntarily inside on a warm Tuesday night perfect for a few drinks due to the trouble my friend was having with her wisdom teeth but my eyes certainly weren’t deceiving me and at 10pm yesterday evening, Big Ron rolled onto our Sky One screens.

While the temptation to flick to Challenge to see if Gladiators was on was high, I decided to give the perma tanned shyster an hour of my time.

The show certainly had entertainment value, if not necessarily for the right reasons, as is often the case with Big Ron.

The show began, narrated by the ever excellent Jeff Stelling, reported that Sky One had set Ron up as the trouble shooter, and were touting him to many lower league clubs.

Of course, some striking initial thoughts would be, surely allowing Ron and a Sky One camera team into your club would turn it into some sort of circus, which surely would be a deterrent to most lower league chairman.

Strangely enough, thinking of circuses often reminds me of Barry Fry so it came as no surprise when he was the one giving Ron the call.

As Ron arrived at the training ground, his black jacket and glasses gave out dark overtures, looking like he was some kind of mafia boss that had just been tangoed.

The football on display was typical lower league fare, strong and gritty one minute, sloppy and embarrassing the next, the sort thousands of us see every Saturday during the cold and depressing English winter.

The (caretaker) manager at the time, Steve Bleasdale also seemed your atypical lower division rookie manager, doing an awful lot of shouting, gesticulating and cursing.

Initially Bleasdale seemed pleased by Ron’s arrival, but it didn’t take long for the first moments of tension, and true entertainment, to arrive.

Bleasdale felt Ron, now out of mafia gear and into tracksuit, was taking a too much of a hands on role during training, and after an argument between the two, barred Ron from the dressing room on match days.

After the next match, Barry Fry, who if I shut my eyes could have been Frank Butcher, brought the two together to iron out the dispute.

In probably the funniest moment of the show, Yellin’ Bleasdale lost his voice for the crucial meeting. Ron fired over his diatribe about the rookie manager being insecure, and in yet more unintentional comedy, the vocally challenged Bleasdale offered back in a faint whisper that he felt there shouldn’t be two voices in the dressing room.

Eventually, thankfully, a compromise was thrashed out that met with all their approval.

On that dramatic note, we bid farewell to Ron, Bleasdale and Fry till the same time nexdt week.

I went in with low expectations but the show entertained and was memorable, if only for those final few minutes.Thankfully it was no Fash FC, but for all Ron's fault he is an entertaining character and don't forget, he let Carlton Palmer's kids be sick on him.

Perhaps my friend should get toothache more often?

Sam Cullen
23 August 2006

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