Football: My display on the wing in Kathmandu made Sir Alf adopt 4-3-3


Dramatic news from the Old Cornfield where the chairman has given me permission to enter the chase for Paul Gascoigne. I've already spoken to his agent's brother's gardener and he tells me we've a very good package.

I think we've covered all the bases. He can go fishing on Sir Hirem Firem's private lake whenever he wants; Deidrie the tea lady is lined up to be his personal counsellor; Jimmy Five Bellies is to be given a grace-and- favour flat above the Mop & Bucket where they are going to install a dentist's chair in the tap room; and he'll be allowed to straighten all the dressing- room towels before a match.

I know there's no way the others can compete with that. Stan Collymore's contract stipulates that only he can be towel man at Villa Park while Duncan Ferguson is Everton's counsellor and Alan Sugar hasn't got a lake.

It'll be good to sign him as I've had a bad week. I was late getting back from Rome having been arrested for swimming in the Trevi Fountains. I kept telling them I was innocent, that I was merely trying to wash Paul Ince's blood off the jacket I'd lent him at half-time. This followed the embarrassment of Saturday morning when Glenn and I went for a quick prayer at St Peter's. Apparently you aren't allowed in wearing shorts. Glenn seemed very nice about it. He said he'd just make it a quick prayer so I wouldn't have to wait outside for long, so I don't think it was related to the team bus leaving me behind at the ground after the game.

With the carabineri bashing heads outside that made for tricky journey back into Rome. I eventually wangled a lift on the back of Angelo Di Livio's scooter but, sad to report, he was still a bit wound up and I actually ended up in the Trevi fountain when he took objection to my singing "Three Lions" as we drove past. It could have be worse, I could have got a lift with Christian Vieri. The poor fellow took a wrong turn and found himself making a very hairy journey down the Spanish Steps.

If that wasn't bad enough I got back to find I'd been snubbed by the FA. They launched a new book, "England: The Official FA History", and invited a few has-beens and never-weres like Trevor Brooking and Ray Clemence to promote it. Not a mention of my six minutes for an FA XI against Nepal in 1964. That was a seminal performance, Sir Alf told me himself if he hadn't seen my display on the wing that night in Kathmandu he would never have adopted 4-3-3.

Of course, I realised afterwards why I wasn't mentioned. The book's been brought out by Virgin - well, you might find me looking at a book of virgins but not in one.

I've had to take training all this week as Kit Mann, my assistant, has been away on a special mission. After hearing about Spartak Moscow having to replay their European match with Sion because their crossbar was too small, I've sent him round to measure the goals at all the clubs we've lost at this season. He could be away some time.

While he's absent I've taken the opportunity of removing Howard Wilkinson's picture. When we went on that coaching conference a couple of weeks ago there was a picture of Wilkinson in the goodie bag. He's Kit's hero so he's put it up in the boot room. I haven't got used to it though, I was convinced those staring eyes were following me around. I'd come back from training an there'd be a voice saying things like "Have you worked on their ball skills? Are they fit enough? Is their shape right? Do they have kippers for breakfast?..." It was driving me mad.

On top of everything else we've had the police round. One of the YTS boys has been nicked for trying to steal the ticket dispenser at the meat counter in Tescos. He claims Sir Hirem asked him to pinch it after the physio decided to set up a queueing system in the treatment room following an unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile Shaun Prone is out with an injured hand and Ivor Niggle has an bruised jaw.

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