Welcome back, and what a pleasure it is to be starting this week, not last Saturday. It had to be the highlight of my summer, seeing the Championship kick off and not being involved, especially as that is going to be a really tough league to get out of this season.
I have been looking forward to today ever since I left Sheffield United following their relegation four years ago and I'm so glad our match against Bolton is going ahead. I would have been gutted if it had been called off after all our preparation. Our owner, Bernie Ecclestone, is right. Calling matches off would be bowing down to the rioters.
I intend to enjoy every minute of this season with Queen's Park Rangers. I know there'll be ups and downs and we'll get turned over occasionally, but we will try and be positive. I'm optimistic; after all, we've already picked up silverware. On our pre-season tour to Italy we won the Barlotti Trofeo Bortolotti ahead of the Serie A teams Cesena and Atalanta and the Europa League finalists Sporting Braga.
I've kept most of last season's Championship-winning squad together, have brought in six players and hope to get a couple more. I'm delighted with the acquisitions so far. Most of them are hungry with something to prove, which is just what I like. Given his ability Jay Bothroyd has underachieved through his career, but he now has the maturity to try and win back his England place. DJ Campbell I liked immediately, and he's sure to benefit from being reunited with his family, who continued to live in the south while he was at Blackpool. He's a boyhood QPR fan, too.
Kieron Dyer knows what people think about him with his injuries and he can't do anything about that, but I've never seen anybody more dedicated in trying to prevent injuries. He's first in every day and does an hour or more stretching and having a massage and so on to get ready for training. He's not come to us for the money, he's had some decent contracts over the years and doesn't have to worry about that. He's come to show people what he is still capable of.
That fat bloke's gone now
The summer's big achievement has been losing 8kg (17.6lb) after going on the Dukan diet. I realised I'd put a bit too much weight on when I saw a picture that made me look as if I had a kangaroo's pouch. I didn't like my first chin, let alone the second. I did some exercise, cut down on the alcohol, and went on this diet which is great: I can have egg and bacon for breakfast, fillet steak for lunch, and lobster for the evening meal. No writing in and telling me I'll have a heart attack next week – besides, I've adapted slightly and now eat some vegetables and fruit.
I blame the parents
William came with me for our pre-season match at Luton last Friday. I wasn't happy at half-time, we were 1-0 up but not playing well. So I used a few expletives when telling the team what I thought. Then I saw Will there and said: "I don't want you repeating anything you've heard in here." He replied: "It's all right, Dad, there's nothing I haven't heard before." All the players started laughing.
Footballers can do their bit
Footballers have a role to play in showing kids another way. I never thought I would see scenes like those in London this week. It is obvious a lot of people have hijacked the original demonstration and used it as an excuse for looting. It has made me think, though. I have been at clubs which do a lot of community work, and Rangers have a good scheme, but for a long time I have thought we could do more. The players should get into schools and talk to kids, to provide positive male role models and show what can be achieved by hard work, in any walk of life.Reuse content