#AskGregory Part Two: John on Doug, Bosko and FA Cup regrets
Q] Did you prefer playing or managing?
A] Playing is by far the best of the two options.
When I played and we won, I was very happy. When I played and we lost, it really hurt.
When you're a manager and you win, I felt ten times better. You feel incredible.
When you're a player, you're just a small cog in a big wheel. But when you're the manager you're the main man.
But in the same way, when you lose you feel ten times worse. Because it's all your fault!
You can come up with all the excuses under the sun - the grass is too green, the ball is too round, too many injuries, pitch is awful, too hot, too cold, bad night's sleep - no-one takes a blind bit of notice. You lost. It's your fault. Deal with it.
It was so hard to get over a defeat as a manager. But playing was by far the best. Managing is like second hand thrills.
Q] What Villa player would you love to work with?
A] Stephen Ireland! I'd love the chance to work with him.
I think there's a great footballer in there. We see glimpses of it but we don't see it enough.
I don't know Stephen - I've never met him - but what I see is a fantastic talent. I really enjoy watching him. Every now and then he does something and it makes me sit on the edge of my seat. There's something about him.
I thought Paul might make him captain this season just to give him more responsibility. Sometimes people react to it well, sometimes it's a burden and obviously sometimes you can't make them captain because you aren't going to play them every week.
But I remember when Paul said before the first game at West Ham: "I've picked my captain but haven't announced it." I just thought: "Hmmm, I wonder if it's Stephen Ireland." I was interested to find out.
He has a great touch, masses of energy, he can get around the pitch, he was player of the year with the fans, he should be the first choice every week on the team-sheet. But I understand why he's not because he's not consistent enough.
There's an amazing player in there but we have to see it more regularly.
Q] Why did you leave?
A] That was due to Muzzy Izzet not signing.
When we went top of the league in 2001, on the Monday I went straight into Doug.
Martin O'Neill had left Leicester and they were struggling and going out of the top-flight. They were in the bottom three and Muzzy wasn't happy.
The vibes I was getting was that Muzzy was available and would cost us £5m.
I went into Doug on Monday afternoon and said: "I want to buy Muzzy Izzet." He said: "No, we can't afford it."
But I said "We're top of the league!" He said: "Well if you're top of the league, you don't need any more players do you?"
I thought we needed to build and get players in when we were strong. The key is they're cheaper when you're stronger because when you're desperate you end up pay anything!
I wanted Muzzy and Doug said: "If we do buy him, where would you play him this weekend?" I told him I wouldn't play him, I'd put him on the bench because all the players on the pitch would be thinking they had to perform because this lad could come in for them.
He said: "No." I had an argument with him and then called a board meeting the next day with the other directors.
I said: "I want Muzzy and you can't say no. This squad isn't strong enough to stay at the top for the rest of the season." He still said no.
I walked out of the office and thought: "What is the point?" It killed me that day. Basically from that point, I lost all my motivation.
The following Saturday we lost 3-0 at Newcastle and I was so upset with Doug that I wanted to quit there and then.
We had an awful November and December and then we got to January. I just wanted to get Villa in the top seven. I thought if I can do that I will just leave.
We clawed our way back and won the last game at Charlton to get into the top seven.
I then thought 'it's time to go.' I didn't want to outstay my welcome. And I had no motivation whatsoever. I wanted to go while we were all still friends. I walked.
I sat down with the chairman and he said: "No, go home and think about it for 24 hours." I returned the next day and said: "No, I've made my mind up. It's time to go."
I couldn't be in the same room as Doug anymore. We'd had a good time and done okay for four years. I had been there almost four years. I was a month short.
I just thought we could have made that Champions League jump. If you do that, the sky's the limit.
But that ultimately is what forced me to leave. I ended up going to Derby. I was out of work for a week. But it was the right club at the wrong time.
Q] What's the secret to your fine mop of black hair?
A] I've never, ever coloured my hair. I just put wax in my hair - basic wax - that Gareth Southgate gave me one day.
I didn't have anything to put on my hair and I asked Gareth for some. It's called American Crew. I just whack it on my head and for some reason it gives my hair the appearance of being black. If you were to stand next to me and look at my hair, it's absolutely full of grey.
I have to say, unlike the fans song where they chant: "Gregory, Gregory, Johnny Gregory, he dyes his hair and we don't care, Johnny Gregory" that's not true.
I have never in my whole life ever coloured it.
Q] If Doug Ellis was walking down the road, would you cross or walk up to him and say hello?
I'd walk up to him and say hello. We get on fine. I saw him at the Villa v Everton game and we shook hands.
I respect him for the good things he did at Villa Park. He did some very good things.
We had a very good working relationship. At times he drove me crackers over financial issues and at times I drove him crackers, I know I did.
But at the same time, I have a lot of respect for him. When I think of Doug, I smile.
He gave me my chance and I feel like I paid him back with what we did over the four years. We fell out a couple of times but a lot of it was down to me.
I was always in a hurry. I wanted us to be up there among the contenders. I was fed up of Villa being last on Match of the Day. I wanted us to be first on Match of the Day. When I looked at that table and Villa were top, it was beautiful. It was magnificent looking down on everyone else.
Q] Tell us about Bosko Balaban?
A] That will be a millstone for me.
With Bosko, I never saw him play. A lot of it was going on recommendations from the scouting network.
We lost Luc Nillis with a horrific injury. I thought he was going to play a big part for us for many years. We then had to sign someone the following summer.
We kept getting these recommendations about Bosko. I never got the chance to see him but I was told he was a good finisher and might be worth a gamble.
The following summer, my last in 2001, the new season was upon us and we had to register all our players for the UEFA Cup.
We had qualified by winning the Intertoto Cup and we had a closing date. Before we knew it, that was upon us and we either had to sign Bosko or not. There was no point taking him later because he wouldn't have been able to play in Europe.
We had a decision to make. I sat down with the board and after meeting his representatives, collectively - although I had the final decision - we agreed to take him.
Obviously he needed a bit of work to get up to speed in the Premier League. Bosko wasn't doing brilliantly on the training field but he was getting used to the way we were doing things.
I just thought it was going to be a long process. Juan took some time but he got it right in the end. I thought Bosko would be the same.
As it turned out, I left in January and in the end Villa gave him away.
It was just going to be a question of time, in my opinion. I think eventually he would have made it - he'd have got into team and scored a few goals and been fine.
But I didn't have long enough to work with him. I have been haunted with him ever since. Whenever anyone wants to have a go at me, they just say: "Whatever happened to Bosko Balaban?"
Q] If you could play the 2000 FA Cup final again, would you do anything different?
A] Yes, I'd win it!
I would do lots of things differently. That game haunts me. There have been times in my life where I've sat there and thought: "Why didn't I play a more offensive style on the day and really go for it!"
I just feel tactically I got it all wrong on the day.
I thought if we could keep Chelsea quiet for an hour we'd start imposing our game.
We were always a very strong second half team. I always thought 0-0 at half-time was a good score because we were very strong after the break. There was a lot of energy and the lads were fit and in that situation we generally won games.
I just wanted to keep them quiet but we didn't, they nicked one and the rest is history. It was very poor after that and we never really had a go until the last 10 minutes.
Had it been a good game and we had lost 4-3, 3-2, even 2-1, you could draw some comfort from it.
But no, I got it wrong and I have to live with it.
Q] Tell us something about yourself which other people don't know?
I am a director of a mobile phone company - SportMobile.co.uk.
We started this company eight years ago and we've just signed Robin van Persie this week.
We have a client list that would make your eyes pop.
It's a VIP mobile phone company. We look after celebrities, but particularly Premier League footballers.
Click here to check out John Gregory's answers from Part One of Cult Heroes.
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