1. England must add pace to their pedestrian side – and fast
Fortunately, we had a reserve game on Wednesday, so I missed most of the first half of the England match; unfortunately, I saw all the second half. It just seemed like extracting teeth. If it had still been Steve McClaren in charge he would have got slaughtered, they'd have been throwing their seats on. I bet he was sat there in the Netherlands saying, "Thish ish not ze Engleesh vay I vanted to play".
Nothing seems to have changed. We still don't know who is best in what position. We still haven't sorted the Lampard and Gerrard issue, or worked out where to play Rooney. I haven't seen Rooney play a good game since Euro 2004.
Capello has to play one up and put Rooney on the left. They are just not recognisable as the players we see in the Premier League. There is no urgency, no pace. I don't think he knows what he wants. Most people in the country would pick nine of the XI, so you can change the manager every week and still have the same team. For whatever reason they are just not performing.
I think he has to get some pace in. They are that predictable my missus could mark them. There is no dynamic, no thrust, no excitement. Until Joe Cole, then Stewart Downing came on, no one was running at them. I'd think about Ashley Young – a lot of young players have no fear. And people can criticise Michael Owen but he's still the only one who scores regularly, or looks like doing so.
2. My TV Olympic marathon leaves me totally exhausted
Maybe I'm just sloppy, because I do love a tear-jerker movie on TV, especially if there are kids involved, but I've had tears streaming down me cheeks, watching the Olympics. I've been watching sports I'd never imagined watching in a million years, and been enthralled. I've been watching the cycling, the rowing, the sailing. It's been fantastic.
I was really struck by Rebecca Adlington, the swimmer. To see how much it has meant to her and the others, and how naïve they are commercially. They put in all that effort and they really just do it for the sport. I see she was hoping to get some sponsored goggles as they cost £35 a pop. I'm sure there have been hundreds of agents telling her mum and dad they will get a few goggles for her, if she just signs on the dotted line – and give them 10 per cent, or 30 per cent knowing agents.
It's been a breath of fresh air. I'm just so proud to be British, and yet, in the same week, I've felt so disappointed at England's footballers. I'm in the game myself, but even I look at players signing £150,000-a-week contracts, then look at the dedication of Adlington, and think somewhere down the line we've lost perspective and it's all gone over the top.
They have probably lost the desire these Olympians have shown us. What urgency, what desire, can you need at £150,000 a week? When I watch Adlington it was like life and death.
Then I find myself one morning waking up and watching BMX bikes and long-distance swimming – 10,000 metres! It's a long way, that is – and urging them on.
Watching the rowers I found myself leaning forward and going back as if I was in the boat with them. At the end I felt exhausted – I could hardly get out of bed to make a cup of tea.
What it has made me realise is that I have got to see some of it in 2012: everyone has. It is a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity.
I was absolutely thrilled to watch a Sheffield United supporter win gold, Paul Goodison in the Laser sailing class. He invited me to go on his boat – a bigger one than his Laser, fortunately – to watch the Isle of Wight race this year. To watch him in China, knowing what he has gone through to be there, was great.
It was a lifetime's ambition that drove him on, like the others, and yet I pick a paper up and see people are slaughtering Paula Radcliffe – who put in an unbelievable amount of effort and work – because she cried. That is typical of some of our press.
3. Reserves nostalgia - a steak before crowd went bananas
I usually hate reserve games. Nine out 10 times I wish I had stayed at home and watched Coronation Street. It's very hard to judge most players because players need a crowd and to have that adrenalin. Most pros don't want to be there, they are frustrated at that level. Only the young ones on the rise are up for it.
Wednesday was different. We had five or six lads available for transfer playing, and I'm sure there would have been scouts looking, with the transfer deadline two weeks away, so some of them had reason to be motivated. There's plenty of clubs like us trying to release a couple to get a couple in. We are actually looking for a striker, though I don't suppose that's a big surprise as we have yet to get a goal.
I sat with Alan Pardew and we both got quite a bit out of a cracking game. We won 3-1, but we had quite an experienced side against a young Charlton team.
We play our games at Bromley to protect the pitch at Selhurst. Reserve sides playing at somewhere other than the club's home ground is quite common these days, which is a bit of a shame. One of my early playing memories is playing Newcastle in the Central League as an 18-year-old. There were about 13,000 at St James' Park to watch us. I'd never seen a crowd like it at the time. They were football bananas.
In my career I got a testimonial from the reserves. I must have played about 500 games. Not many players do that now. Most teams are full of kids. Every time we went North we would stop at Scotch Corner three hours before the game and have a fillet steak with loads of toast and butter. I could hardly move to get back on the bus, but that was the standard pre-match meal.
Now I'm lucky to get fillet once a month at home! I can say that because Sharon is away with the kids for a few days, though I'm told The Independent is on sale where she is.
4 Why I love Elland Road and its incredible atmosphere
This coming Tuesday sees us up at Leeds in the Carling Cup. It promises to be a great game. As a Sheffield United fan and ex-manager I always get a good welcome there. It's a real good week: Leeds is followed by a trip to Reading, where I've some old mates.
I do love going to Leeds, though. Elland Road is a fantastic ground and the crowd are real fanatics. I can still remember going to see them playing Man United there – it must be a decade ago but it seems like the other day – and I have never experienced an atmosphere like it. The reception for Man U made my usual welcome there seem like a ticker-tape parade.Reuse content