Lee Dixon: I was so honoured to represent Arsenal I stole my peg! United's players have a similar pride

The Weekend Dossier

The first thing I did when I walked into the Highbury dressing room every week at Arsenal was look at my Dixon 2 shirt hanging on the peg.

I took an immense amount of pride in seeing my name there.

That peg meant so much to me that I nicked it when Arsenal moved out of Highbury. I took my wife around Highbury after it had closed and before it was knocked down, to show her the dressing rooms and the boot room, areas she hadn't seen before.

I went into the dressing room, and saw my empty peg there. At the time the club were auctioning off various parts of the stadium and I just decided there and then that I had to have my old peg.

So I asked Paddy the old stadium manager if I could borrow a screwdriver and I took it down and kept it under my coat until we had left. It's a pretty, art deco design and I now have it up at home and keep my cycling gear on it. It is the only thing I have stolen in my life, but in a kind of a way it was really mine, because I had used it more than anyone else.

I always had a huge amount of pride in playing for Arsenal. I played 619 games for the club but the last time I pulled on the red and white shirt I had the same feeling of pride and responsibility that I had felt the first time. It really did mean so much to me.

That sense of pride in playing for a club is just what Manchester United have been showing this past week. They are starting to have an air of invincibility about them with their two victories in London in seven days. That win over West Ham United, after they were 2-0 down, will have given their self belief another coat of enamel. And their comeback helped set them up for going to Chelsea and winning there – for the first time in nine years – in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Those results are born from the spirit and desire to win that has been drummed into the players by Sir Alex Ferguson over his years in charge.

The personnel has changed over the past few years but United still have that winning mentality. The players will almost feel like they are growing a couple of inches when they pull on the famous shirt. There is all that history behind them and that goes towards building up their mental strength.

United were a bit lucky at Stamford Bridge, because it was a stonewall penalty when Patrice Evra brought down Ramires in stoppage time. Someone please has to tell me what is the point of that berk behind the goal who is meant to be helping the referee. He must have seen it but he didn't have the gumption to put up his hand or his flag or whatever and tell the referee. In which case what is the point of having him?

But the luck went with United and that will feed into the winning psyche that the squad is currently feeling. Rather than coming away from Stamford Bridge thinking they have got away with one, the players will be thinking it could be a sign their name is on the trophy.

Players like Ryan Giggs will be saying that West Ham could be the key game that decides the title race, or that the referee's call at Chelsea was only what they deserved. It all goes to cement a positive message into the dressing room.

Much of that positive mental strength is down to Ferguson. This is very much a team he has built. No one else buys the players at Manchester United. He does due diligence on their characters in an old school scouting system that goes in depth and finds the right players who will fit into the existing team framework.

People might say this United side is not as good as others in the past, but one thing you can say is they are a real team. They have been in transition, with older players coming towards the end of their careers, but others are now moving to the fore, like Nani, Rafael and Antonio Valencia.

These newer players are showing the same sense of pride and mental strength as the United teams of the past. And that is down to Ferguson and his unquenchable desire to win.

Rooney will benefit from his swearing ban – and so will the English game

The Football Association has done the right thing in punishing Wayne Rooney for swearing into a TV camera last weekend at West Ham. And hopefully he will come to see that it is the right decision, too.

It was unacceptable what he did. It is one thing to swear in a game but totally another to run to a camera and shout obscenities into the lens. I am not being anti-Rooney when I saw that; my opinion would be the same if Cesc Fabregas had done it.

You cannot have players running around swearing into cameras. The punishment will hurt Rooney, which a fine would not do, so I believe it will stop any other players from following suit and doing the same.

But I also hope it will do Rooney some good, too. At the moment he is feeling hard done by but as he matures as a player and as a man he should see it as a learning process. Hopefully it will help to make his behaviour better in the future.

No one likes being told off, so his immediate reaction is to be rebellious. But when he looks back perhaps he will see he has done something wrong and it will make him change his behaviour. Because we all want to celebrate him as a footballer.

He had an outstanding game against Chelsea on Wednesday night. It was great to see him like that. He is now 25 years old and is in his peak. His England career stands at 70 caps and 26 goals. That's a decent career but not a great one yet.

Rooney can still do it all and will be remembered as one of England's greatest players, like Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore. But not if he continues to behave like he did at West Ham last weekend.

Five Asides

1. Heat's on for Harry

This is where Harry Redknapp earns his corn as Tottenham manager, starting with today's game at home to Stoke. Virtually everything that could go wrong did go wrong when they were beaten 4-0 by Real Madrid in midweek, losing Aaron Lennon in the warm up and then losing Peter Crouch when he was sent off. People have been saying Crouch needs to apologise publicly, but I am sure he has done so in the dressing room and that is enough. He knows he has let people down, and that is punishment in itself.

2. Adebayor slur is racist

The chant directed towards Emmanuel Adebayor by Tottenham fans in midweek was unacceptable. Tottenham have apparently claimed the Crown Prosecution Service have decreed that it is not racist, but if someone said things like that on TV they would be condemned. The same should apply to football fans.

3. Gerrard best to rest

The news that Steven Gerrard has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a groin injury suggests that Liverpool have settled for sixth place. It is much more important to have Gerrard fully fit next season than anything that can be achieved this one.

4. Raise your game, Poults

I stayed with my mate Ian Poulter for the Masters a few years ago, so I have been keeping my fingers crossed he does well at Augusta. On Thursday he dropped four shots over the last four holes. I'll give it a while before I rib him about it.

5. Nice gag, Mohamed

Mohamed Al Fayed must have been trying to cheer everyone up with his statue of Michael Jackson at Craven Cottage, because it was the best laugh I have had in ages.

Dixon's verdict on all the weekend action

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Everton

Dixon's verdict: Everton are missing a number of players, most notably Louis Saha and Mikel Arteta, while Wolves welcome back Steven Fletcher, although the visitors have the strength of squad to take a point.

Kick-off: Today, 12.45pm (Sky Sports 2, HD2; Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction Draw

Blackburn Rovers vs Birmingham City

Dixon's verdict: This match is your typical relegation six-pointer, both sides desperate for points in what is shaping up to be a remarkable run-in. Rovers are inconsistent but hard to beat at home and will take the spoils.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Home win

Bolton Wanderers vs West Ham United

Dixon's verdict: West Ham had been in good form until last week's defeat against Manchester United but I don't think they will get much here against a Bolton side unbeaten at the Reebok in more than two months.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Home win

Chelsea vs Wigan Athletic

Dixon's verdict: Wigan picked up an invaluable three points against Birmingham last week but won't expect anything here, especially as their last two meetings with Chelsea have been 6-0 and 8-0 defeats.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Home win

Manchester United vs Fulham

Dixon’s verdict: United have one foot in the Champions League semi-finals after a professional display at Chelsea and, even with a number of changes likely, will be too strong for the other west London side here today.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Home win

Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion

Dixon’s verdict: Steve Bruce’s side are in a horrendous run of form, with just one point from seven games and no goals in the last four. West Bromwich at home used to be a given, but Roy Hodgson’s side are playing well.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Draw

Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City

Dixon’s verdict: It remains to be seen how much events in Madrid affect Spurs here, in what is a key match if they are to have any chance of making next season’s Champions League. They should win, though.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.15pm)

Prediction: Home win

Blackpool vs Arsenal

Dixon’s verdict: Two of the most out-of-form sides meet at Bloomfield Road with eyes on opposite ends of the table. Blackpool have won just once in their last 11 games and I fear they could be disappointed again here.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 1.30pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Away win

Aston Villa vs Newcastle United

Dixon's verdict: Newcastle won the reverse fixture 6-0 back in the Andy Carroll era and Villa will be desperate for revenge. The visitors are inconsistent, but you never feel confident watching Villa at the moment.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 4pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 1, 10.25pm)

Prediction: Draw

Liverpool vs Manchester City

Dixon's verdict: Steven Gerrard being out for the season is a huge blow for Kenny Dalglish's side, but the Suarez-Carroll partnership has shown signs of clicking and I fancy them against a City side who are up and down.

Kick-off: Monday, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights Tues, 12.30am, SS1)

Prediction: Home win

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