Gregory saw the Collymore warning signs (15 Mar)
Aston Villa manager John Gregory has admitted he first saw the warning signals over the clinical depression currently affecting striker Stan Collymore 12 months ago. 

Gregory has not been slow to verbally attack Collymore as regards his current problems and has been sceptical about him needing medical treatment. 

But the Villa chief appears to have mellowed in terms of his attitude towards Villa's £7million club record signing in the last few days. 

And Gregory admits in hindsight that Collymore's reaction to his first match as Brian Little's successor at Villa Park should have acted as a warning light about what was to follow. 

Gregory's first game in charge last February saw Collymore face his previous club Liverpool and he responded with a two-goal blast to earn Villa a 2-1 win. 

But Gregory said: ``Afterwards he was the most miserable man in the world. I could not cheer him up after the game. 

``He had just scored two goals against Liverpool and I sat there with him and he was totally fed up. I just couldn't understand it. 

``This was more than Villa v Liverpool. This was Stan Collymore v Liverpool and he'd not only won the battle but had scored two superb goals as well. 

``He had walked off to a standing ovation, yet he was down. For some reason it did not mean as much to him as it would to any other player. 

``Looking back I could see that something was wrong. The problem Stan has is coping with the highs and the lows. 

``For most players the highs last all week after you have won. With Stan it is going by Saturday night and by Sunday he is down again.'' 

Gregory admits that he now has a more sympathetic view of Collymore's plight after a 90-minute heart-to-heart with the player. 

``Stan has been diagnosed as having clinical depression and I sat down with him to try and understand what it means to have this problem,'' he said. 

``He explained lots of things to me and I have since taken more of a sympathetic view. 

``The rest of the Villa squad took the same approach as me when Stan's problems first came to light. I dismissed the whole thing. 

``I thought it was something Stan was hiding behind and it does seem a little bit trendy now to go into a clinic and spend a couple of weeks there. 

``I didn't really think he had clinical depression but since I've tried to understand what he is going through a little bit more I've become a bit more sympathetic towards him.'' 

Martin Sivorn © 1999.E-Mail Me