Getting rid of a really popular player is very difficult for a manager. Sometimes you come to a club and don't want a certain individual. Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea seems to be in that position with Frank Lampard and it is becoming messy.
My toughest was Gavin Peacock at QPR. The fans loved him, he was a great lad, but he was also very highly paid and the club were in financial trouble. I knew I had to move him on and it was very awkward.
All I could do was be honest and tell it how it was. I called him into my office and said "look Gav, you are 33, you're having trouble with your knee – are you thinking about your long-term future?" I suggesteda move into coaching. I was up front with him and, luckily for me, he didn't kick up a fuss. He went into the media and has since become a Christian minister in Canada... though I'm pretty sure that wasn't my influence.
I had a similar problem with Andy Tilson, a very fine captain at Bristol Rovers, who I also had to move on. Again I was honest with him. That way, even if they don't like what you are telling them, they respect you for being truthful and letting them know the score.
This is where I think Villas-Boas has made a mistake. If Lampard is to be believed, the manager hasn't spoken to him for weeks. That is poor.
If Villas-Boas was going to leave such a senior player out, he should have pulled him and told him why.
It isn't always possible mind. You don't always have time. And as a boss you don't pull a player to one side to tell them they are playing, so why should you when you leave them out? They are big boys, they should be able to take it.
But with someone like Lampard, a hugely popular club legend, Villas-Boas should have realised what a can of worms he was opening and made a point of talking to him and being honest. I just hope he wasn't scared of doing it.
If he wants an example of how to carry on, he should give Sir Alex Ferguson a bell. That man is the best at breaking up teams and easing legends out of the door. He has done it with Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, and the club are never affected. It remains a happy ship. But Ferguson has had the benefit oflong-term planning. Villas-Boas hasn't got that.
The fact is that he has inherited a squad which is clearly too old and needs revamping. No matter how you cut it, football is a young man's game. You need experience to balance it out but too much experience and suddenly you fall behind rivals who have evolved.
Villas-Boas realises this and, fair play to him, is trying to sort it out. But will it be possible to keep winning at a time when there is so much change and unrest? I doubt it, as he has already found out.
The man is in a very difficult position but what he has to do is be honest and up front with his own players – make enemies of too many senior pros, especially those with the power and standing of Lampard, and you are in big trouble.
Black mark on Brown
The dismissal of Phil Brown at Preston has been headline news in Lancashire this week.
I don't really like talking about Preston because they are Blackpool's main rivals and anything I say is pounced on. But I can't help myself on this one because I think Phil's sacking is ludicrous.
Preston have financial problems and Phil was doing his job under incredibly difficult circumstances. The club had a giant leak in it and he was trying to patch it up.
I'm sure he will bounce back but now Preston are searching for a new boss, they need look no further than a few miles down the road. Micky Mellon has been doing a terrific job at Fleetwood Town. He has led them up the divisions and they are currently joint-top of the Blue Square Premier – on the verge of making it to the Football League for the first time. I'm delighted for Micky because I've known him for a long time. We have been pals since 1990 when he played for Bristol City and I was at Rovers. It's ironic we have ended up being managers of clubs that are about 10 miles apart.
There is also another coincidence – we have been drawn against Fleetwood in the FA Cup third round. It is great for the area and I can't wait. Whatever the result, the winner will buy the other a drink. So I'm planning a beer off Mick.
Don't write off United just yet
Today's game between Manchester City and Arsenal might not be as straightforward as some people seem to think, especially if Robin van Persie carries on as he is. It just shows the importance of having a striker who can score 30 goals a season.
Bolton had Daniel Sturridge last season. Look where his goals took them then and see where they are now.
City have half a dozen players who can score and I am liking Roberto Mancini more by the week. I wasn't sure about him at first but the way he has handled himself this year has been exemplary.
City won't go away but United still have to be favourites. They know how to win things – City don't yet and that could prove crucial come the end of the campaign.
What a surprise! BBC don't want me now I'm not Premier League
I was nominated for best coach at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year 12 months ago... this year I haven't even got an invite. I'm obviously not important enough now I'm no longer a Premier League boss!
But I don't really mind, It is all about the present – that is why it is such a fantastic award to win. If there is any justice, Mark Cavendish should walk away with the trophy. He is a phenomenon.
In a sport which is as tough and gruelling as can be, it is hard enough winning the odd event, never mind to keep doing it. I am a big fan of his and I'll be rooting for him.
I also admire Luke Donald, who has come from 23rd in the world to No 1. He has a great attitude, as does Darren Clarke who, after all that has gone on in his personal life, held it together at the Open and produced four tremendous rounds of golf when it would have been easy to crumble. Mental strength is the mark of a true champion.
I don't buy into the controversy over no women being on the shortlist. We are not a sexist country, women aren't chained to the kitchen sink any more, and if they had deserved to be nominated they would have been. Maybe some of them haven't been good enough this year.
Hopefully, next year we will be hailing a female winner, and maybe not being included this year will spur them on.
Cowell needs a reality check
What is it with this country and people wasting their hard-earned money to vote on crappy TV programmes? Simon Cowell must be laughing all the way to the bank. He gets millions from his show and then, just to make sure he's not missing out on anything, he gets to sign all the winners as well.
If this programme is about helping young people, why doesn't Mr Cowell give all the money from the phone vote to help students pay off their debts? Some of those poor kids end up 50 grand in the red, and I bet some of them spend money voting on Mr Cowell's show.
It is so wrong it is untrue.
As much as I hate those shows, I must admit I found myself watching the X Factor final last weekend. I had no choice – it was on the TV on our coach back from Southampton.
I thought Amelia was the best, which shows how much I know because she went out first.
On the same journey, I watched Strictly Come Dancing for the first time too and I was hooked.
I watched the final last night with my wife Kim and the celebrities were so good you couldn't tell who the professionals were. Someone asked if I'd fancy going on it but I told them no chance. It's way too personal for me. I wouldn't like all that touching and grabbing – I'm quite happy watching it on the sofa with the wife thank you very much.Reuse content