This interview took place at Morecambe golf club on Friday 1st of May as Trevor and the Lancaster City players relaxed after completing the season the previous weekend. Trevor is currently assistant manager to former Newcastle United defender Darren Peacock.
Obviously, you played a few times against Newcastle in your career. What was it like to play at St James’ Park as part of the opposition?
I found it exciting, I had a good record against Newcastle and I used to love going up there! The atmosphere and that passion from the supporters really put a spring in my step. It was a joy to play there. They had so much talent back then and you were playing against top players like Shearer and Ferdinand. I guess whether or not players found it intimidating depends on the type of player you are but I used to love playing at St James’ Park - and I’m happy to be calling it that again!
It’s currently got the third highest capacity in the top flight. Where do you think it ranks in terms of iconic stadiums?
It’ll always have that status as a quality stadium. It’s got such a big capacity and despite the lack of success it’s always full. The fans really are a credit to the club.
What does the Mike Ashley situation look like from the outside?
I think the fans aren’t happy and a lot could have been sorted in the January transfer window. Whether or not the fans wanted John Carver to step in as manager or not, the club could easily have given somebody the job of recruiting new players, somebody with knowledge in that area. Anyone can see they are light upfront and that was always where they used to be strong with an iconic number nine. I think to bring no one in at all in January, the fans feel cheated by that.
With all the additional revenue streams coming in, do supporters really have a voice these days?
Yes, supporters will always have a voice. At the end of the day, the very reason football clubs were formed was to entertain the community. Back in the day we used to say “the supporters pay our wages” and that was the case back then. There’s no denying the fact that this isn’t true anymore with all the television money coming in but supporters will still always be a part of the club, when we move away from that then football is in decline.
I know you’re also a pundit as well as an assistant manager. You currently work on the BBC with Alan Shearer. Do you think he has the temperament to return to management after his brief stint at Newcastle?
Yes I think he definitely has the right temperament to be a manager. I’m not sure whether or not he has the will at the moment though with all the things that he’s doing. He definitely has all the knowledge and the right personality, all the ingredients are there . What he’d need is to go into a situation where the chairman and the owner of the club believe in him and support him to do his job. At the moment though he’s doing very well with his current career.
What was Kevin Keegan like as a manager?
He was the most enthusiastic man in football! He was great at motivating the players. I think at England, without wanting to have a dig at anyone, he could have done with a few more younger coaches. Ones that were tactically more aware and had strategies to change the game as it was ongoing. Kevin was great with the players and on the training ground, it was a lot of fun. Things were always enjoyable with Kevin around.
What’s your first memory of him and how did he come across?
It was for England, he’d brought me and Frank Lampard into the squad so I was buzzing! It was great to be involved with him! It was a tense occasion as we were playing Scotland in the play-offs (Euro 2000) we beat them at Hampden 2-0 and then lost the return 1-0 so we went through.
He only actually presided over two 4-3 matches in his entire time at Newcastle (Liverpool (a) April 1996, Villa (h) Sept 1996) Do you think it’s a myth that he is tactically inept?
He’s not tactically inept. He’s a great scholar of the game, he won European player of the year. He just had this belief about talented players and saying “take your game to them”. It’s very easy for people to say he didn’t know how to change things to play different teams but his philosophy was to get a group of talented players together and have them enjoying themselves, playing well and not worrying about the opposition. He wanted his teams to play offensive football and take that to the opposition. Not dissimilar to Arsene Wenger, that was Keegan’s philosophy.
Do you feel the managers job at Newcastle has become something of a poisoned chalice?
No, I think it’s a huge job! It should be an honour for anyone to be manager there. To have fifty two thousand screaming Geordies every week. Despite the large crowds, their expectancy isn’t actually that high, all they ask is that they have a go. There’s actually a group of talented players up there and it would only take a bit of tinkering.
What’s Darren Peacock like as a manager?
He’s very generous, he’s pretty much given me licence to push my philosophy, he’s very supportive. We met up last year for a coffee just for half an hour and more than three hours later we were still there talking football, that’s when he offered me the assistant job. I think we both learnt a lot at the same time from the same people particularly Gerry Francis. We learned about keeping the shape of the team and the discipline you need. He’s a top top man.
You played with Les Ferdinand at QPR and played when he took us apart in the game that persuaded Keegan to sign him (3-0 defeat Jan 1995) Just how good was he as a striker?
Yeah, he was unplayable that game, I set up one his goals early on. He was one of the best! I remember my first game when I signed for QPR, I’d recently been signed from a fourth division team and I couldn’t believe how high a standard he set.The way he could just bully defenders, he was head and shoulders above everyone else. I was hypnotised by him, we lost 4-1 to Aston Villa but he was the best player on the pitch by far, he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side that day. It was actually a little worrying and gave me a boot up the bum because I realised I hadn’t yet made it and how much work there was to be done. I ended up getting in touch with the coaches and doing extra training. He’s back in a role at QPR now and it’s great to see him there.
Do you think he is up there with the best strikers to have played in the premier league?
Yeah, got to be! He could hang in the air like Michael Jordan! I don’t even need to talk about what a gent he is as well. He was and is an absolute gentleman, up there with Sir Bobby. He’s a credit to the game.
What did you make of Joey Barton when he first came on the scene at Man City?
I thought he was a top player, a fit fit boy and very combative on the pitch. Despite his off-field problems I always found him to be a good lad, very respectful. I liked Joey.
He seems to split opinion amongst the media. Do you believe he could have been the one to offer the leadership on the pitch that Newcastle badly need?
He definitely offered that leadership when he was there, he was certainly a fan’s favourite too. I was surprised when Newcastle let him go and expected some French lad I’d never even heard of (Cabaye) to come in and fill his boots. People have got the wrong idea about Joey due to the occasions the ugly side of his personality has come out but he’s worked on that and the good thing is he now doesn’t put himself in those environments that he used to so it’s not able to rear its ugly head. It’s easy to forget as well that a lot of these lads come from working class backgrounds and know how to look after themselves, he was a very highly trained athlete and with his reaction speeds being so high it could sometimes cause trouble when people upset him.The way these lads grow up with the additional pressure as well as all the extra training to react to situations so quickly makes it very different from a normal upbringing. I always found him very humble though.
I know you’re a Blackpool fan and used to play for them. How do you read their plight this season?
I think the whole situation is very unprofessional. There was a complete breakdown in communication and there was no recruitment, not unlike Newcastle really, for that still to be going on ten games in was very ill-prepared for the championship which is a very tough division, one of the best second divisions in the world. I think they’ve got exactly what they deserved to be honest and there’s now a huge rebuilding job to be done this summer.
How much do supporter campaigns and boycotts affect players as they’re going into matches?
It’s not helpful. Players want to be supported, especially at home. You find a lot of teams in that position end up playing better away where there is less of that pressure. I’m off to Bloomfield road this Saturday and I hope they can end the season on a high but theres rallies and all sorts planned for that one too. They just need to put it behind them this summer.
What’s the media perception of Newcastle supporters - Passionate? Deluded?
Newcastle supporters aren’t deluded. They’re passionate about their club and they want someone in charge who’s going to look after the club and want it to do well which they haven’t got at the moment. They don’t actually want a lot, there’s just been no player recruitment. They shouldn’t be in a relegation battle.
Do you have any specific memories of playing against Newcastle?
Yeah, like I said I had a good record there but two games in particular stand out. The first was when we were playing away with West Ham in the late nineties and all the lads went out for a Chinese in Essex. We then flew up and stayed in this hotel just outside of Newcastle where we tended to stop over. It was our first-game social and we had to do a ritual, there was a few of us - Hartson, Moncur and Kitson as well. Anyway, lets just say we had a few and weren’t feeling so well the next day. It’s ok having one or two the night before a game but to have a dozen - or at least half - wasn’t good. None of us played well at all that day. Stan Lazaridis scored an absolute worldy! it flew in, I think he meant it as a cross and shanked it. We ended up winning 1-0 but I’m not sure how, we really weren’t feeling great!
The other was when I scored up there in a 3-0 win. Ian Wright scored two that day. Wrighty was so generous. I was the type of player who tended to play better when people put their arm round me and told me I was a good player and that’s what he did. He said “lets rip them apart” and we did. We played really well that day.
Where realistically should Newcastle be finishing in the league?
I think if you look at the fanbase and the history of the club they really should be aiming towards the top eight, obviously the top four is very hard to break into these days but I think the supporters would be happy even if they were looking towards the top half as long as they started challenging and giving it a go.