Premier League - Star reveals dirty tricks training for ball boys

Aston Villa star Matt Lowton has weighed in on the ball boy behaviour row by revealing that he was taught ball boy time wasting tactics by none other than former top flight manager Neil Warnock.

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Aston Villa's Matthew Lowton (PA Sport)

Lowton was an apprentice at Sheffield United when Warnock - a former Leeds, Crystal Palace and QPR manager - was the boss at Bramall Lane during their last stint in the Premier League in 2006-07.

And apparently the outspoken Warnock was determined to keep his men in the top flight by any means possible - even if it meant using the ball boys.

"We were schooled in how to use a little gamesmanship to help the team. It was part of our apprenticeship under Warnock," Lowton told The Sun.

"He wanted us to study the first team and get a feel for how things were done at that level.

"He even taught tactics for ballboys. He reckoned we had an important role to play when big clubs came to Bramall Lane.

"He taught us when to get the ball back quickly – and when not to!"

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Warnock apparently instructed the youngsters to get the ball back at breakneck speed when United were chasing a goal – and slow down to a snail's pace when ahead.

And it was a tactic which almost worked once during a clash with Liverpool.

"United were a goal up after Rob Hulse scored but Gerrard won a controversial penalty for Liverpool when he went down in the box," Lowton added.

"There was a huge fuss afterwards over whether he dived and I did everything I could to delay giving Liverpool the ball back for the penalty.

"But eventually Robbie Fowler scored from the penalty spot and Liverpool snatched a 1-1 draw."

The tactics ultimately proved fruitless: Sheffield United finished 18th on goal difference to get relegated, and the Blades have not been in the top flight since.

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