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"I did not swear." The Boss lifts the lid on the cabbage gate and that night at the Aston Villa

Aston Villa's bow in such unpleasant circumstances has never been in the screenplay of Colin Calderwood.

The former assistant to Steve Bruce watched in horror as a cabbage landed at the foot of the boss in that fateful 3-3 draw with Preston North End in October.

The heated discussion of Calderwood with a supporter sitting next to the house pirogue also highlighted how toxic the whole situation is in B6.

Change was necessary and for the Scotsman who opened a new path.

It was the right time to return to management and abandon the "comfortable" tag of a second in command when he was relieved of his duties alongside Bruce and his close allies.

Cambridge United – Club Calderwood has emerged from the relegation zone of League Two with five wins in nine games – presented the perfect opportunity.

Colin Calderwood manager of Cambridge United

And as we talk to The U's training camp on the new challenge of keeping his team in the Football League, it's clear that the 54-year-old is in a better place than those last days at Villa.

"The atmosphere in the stadium that night against Preston was not beautiful," he told Birmingham Live.

"Steve is a man of absolute class and manager.

"These things, like that cabbage accident, happen to the wrong people.

"He behaved with great dignity in a difficult moment.

"We were 2-0 up and running until Chezzie (James Chester) was not kicked out, which changed everything.

Stephen Clemence, Colin Calderwood and Steve Bruce
Stephen Clemence of Aston Villa, Colin Calderwood and Steve Bruce

"There was a feeling on the stands that we had thrown away before we actually had it.

"It is important for the fans to support the players on the field, especially in that situation.

"If you take that game alone, I think the fans can support the players a little more.

"This is football across the board.

"But there are not too many places where the atmosphere would have been like at Villa Park that night."

Calderwood plays the incident with the canoe who saw him confront a fan seated nearby, insisting:

"I did not swear at him, I just said" support the team ",

"This guy was giving Steve the stick for the whole game.

"When we got the penalty in the break time, I was sure I would sit next to him and say" we won the game, let's continue ".

"But I turned around after getting the penalty and if he was gone.

"(Glenn Whelan) was missing him anyway.

"This is my memory of it." He probably will say that he's not gone.

"But he was not there when I looked and I just wanted him to support the team.

"Support is necessary in times of adversity".

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What's happening at Aston Villa?

Despite the disappointing end, Calderwood traces his two years at Villa as a pleasant time.

He has maintained close ties with his former employers and has already taken his Cambridge team to Bodymoor Heath for a training session ahead of his last trip to Exeter.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Jake Doyle-Hayes were also granted the loan with Calderwood for the rest of the season on loan – and, crucially for Cambridge, Villa has agreed to cover most of the cost.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy of Cambridge United

"If any clubs compete with us for wages, we will lose," revealed the boss.

"But I hope that our principles and our ambitions to play exciting and exciting football in the long run will help us attract young quality players from the aforementioned championships and also to develop ours."

The first signs are promising and the wellness factor is back.

Cambridge has won the largest number of games in the eight-week reign of Calderwood as they have done throughout the season before his arrival.

But it is not to be carried away by the progression towards the middle of the table, since the only goal remains to remain in the division.

Years of excessive spending after the 2013/14 promotion by the National League and the double challenge of the FA Cup with Manchester United, a year later, required cuts in the term.

Colin Calderwood manager of Cambridge United

But in Cambridge there are no funds, which certainly succeed in replacing with spirit, guidance and determination.

"Our group of staff is small but everyone gets together.

"There is a real tension in the group.

"Our sports scientist has a budget for food that goes and picks up and takes us to the bus after the games – and sometimes before the games if we have a long trip.

"Last week he did not have enough, but he went to cook pasta and chicken for everyone and he filled everything.

"They do extra things that people would not do elsewhere.

"Everyone here is a job and a half and many people are doing two jobs".

Coincidentally, the Cambridge team bus has been used by Villa in the past, but the seating plan is very different.

"We have five or six staff members – the goalkeeper's trainer, the assistant, the sports scientist, the analyst and I," added Calderwood.

"On that bus at Villa there were 15 staff members and one chef!

"This is the right way to do it, but you can do it at this level with the right protocol and excellent levels of professionalism.

"I have to commend the staff here for their efforts."

Calderwood is widely recognized as an experienced assistant after years spent alongside Chris Hughton in Newcastle, Birmingham City, Norwich and Brighton.


But there was a time when it was hot alone, winning promotion as head of Northampton and Nottingham Forest before a spell in Hibernian that admits did not go right to the floor.

During his most recent spell, the 54-year-old has traveled the country watching the games, studied management style at the Saracens Rugby Club and "walked the dog for longer than usual".

"I did the full spectrum of Nuneaton and Under-23 games until Barcelona against Tottenham in the Champions League," he continued.

"It gave me the opportunity to go out on Saturday in a different way.

"At that point I've never been relaxed about things.

"I missed the buzz and the work environment every day.

"But I wanted to be a manager again."

So there were moments "what am I doing here" for the boss since I left behind practical pulls and structures at the vanguard at Villa?

"Probably last week I noticed," he said.

"There was not an indoor facility to use or a gym (when the snow went down).

"But once you're gone, you're gone.

"I wanted to get back into management.

"Deciding to follow the path of the assistant in the past prevented me from becoming a manager in several clubs, yes.

"I've been with Chris (Hughton) in four big clubs.

"But I would not have changed it just for that.

"I was certainly selfish but for me they were excellent opportunities.

"Newcastle, Birmingham City, Norwich, Brighton, Villa – all the big clubs.

"I'm not doing too well in the playoffs, mind you!

"In this job I felt safer than before, though.

"In a sense there is less pressure from week to week when you are trying to keep a club in the division because you do not have to win every week.

"But there is more pressure in general because there is no insurance policy.

"You can not hide behind a result and say" we are close to automatic or play-off "because we are not.

"Keeping this season is the brief, so next year I want us to become a team that people enjoy watching."

Keeping the cabbages out of the Abbey Stadium will be a sign that it's going in the right direction.


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