Sometimes managing the team is the easy bit. Let me take you back to 11.45 last Saturday morning. It's an hour before I have to head off to Selhurst Park for our match against Blackpool.
On my mind is the fact we had not scored in the first half for 19 games, a run that went back to March, but there are a couple of distractions. Sharon and the kids were away for the weekend and I had two chameleons who were relying on me to fix up a water spray and timers for their light and heat. Being away for the night myself, I can't get it wrong otherwise I'll come back to a domestic calamity. So I'm stood in my Y-fronts, locusts in one rubber-gloved hand, crickets in another, talking to myself saying, "What the hell am I doing here?" You'll be glad to know I wasn't able to take any pictures of myself at the time for this column.
Then I realised I'd not fed the fish, and I would be away overnight. So I'm rushing about like a blue-arsed fly, still with my rubber gloves on, when I have two phone calls. They tell me Jose Fonte and Freddie Sears won't be available in the afternoon for the game. One was due to play and the other was to be on the bench. So now I have to think about that as well, when I finally get out of the house and head for the ground.
I arrive to find we've only six subs. Although a lot of managers this year have gone with six on the bench to make a statement about their lack of players I always think it is a great opportunity to involve one of the kids. The only one registered who was available was an 18-year-old who had a few games last season and had just come back from a loan with Crawley Town, Kieran Djilali.
I tried to phone him and could not get anything, so I left a message. He phoned back at 25 to two, I asked where he was. He said he was in a shopping centre in Croydon. I told him, "Get to the ground". He said he'd not got his tracksuit on. I told him, "I'm not bothered if you're in your birthday suit – just get down to the ground." He arrived 35 minutes before kick-off.
The whole day had disaster written all over it. Then we kicked off. We broke our hoodoo by scoring in four minutes, added another before half-time, and went on to win 4-1 against, I have to say, a very good Blackpool team who had been in good form. As always in sport, you never know what's round the corner.
2. Don't worry Alan, you can referee us anytime
I can see all the media are desperate to get Sir Alex Ferguson banned from the ground, never mind the touchline, after what he said about Alan Wiley, but no matter what the referees' union say, and all the press, the FA can only go by the book. I expect he won't even get a touchline ban, just a fine – he'll probably use the solicitor who got him off that speeding ticket.
I don't think it is a co-incidence Alex has gone off like he did when the team didn't play as well as he hoped, but as long as we're not playing Liverpool I'd have Alan Wiley every day of the week. I did read somewhere that in the last eight games he's refereed United, they have only won one, so I presume Alex hopes by going off like this they won't have him again. The only problem he's got is that now the refs are on ProZone they can prove Alan's fit enough to do all the running he has to.
Sunday's big game proved one thing, there's no way Chelsea can do without Didier Drogba. He is unplayable. I can't see Chelsea losing to anyone if he's playing. What a blow it will be when he goes off to the African Nations Cup in January.
3. Carle's odyssey highlights the global game
Talking about long journeys, what about little Crystal Palace and our player Nick Carle who plays for Australia? He flew off last Sunday, they play Netherlands today, in Sydney, then they play Oman – yes, Oman – on Wednesday, in Melbourne. He gets back to England at five o'clock on Friday afternoon, by which time we'll have already arrived at Cardiff for next Saturday's game. I've told him to go home, get to bed, and if he feels like it, to drive up Saturday morning, if not, we'll do without him. How can you ask somebody to do all that travelling and perform? But it's difficult for players. Australia have already qualified for the World Cup and he's desperate to be in the team.
I'm taking advantage of the international break by watching Amy this morning in her first hockey match for the school, then I'll take in a game this afternoon. Tomorrow I'm on Sky covering two of my old teams, Notts County and Torquay. I'm looking forward to seeing Sven. I'll ask him if he really meant it when he said the WAGs' presence didn't affect the players in the World Cup! It'll be good to see Ian McParland, County's manager. He actually played for me at Notts Co, he was one of my strikers.
4. Some of us aren't in it for the money
To cap a bad week for Fergie I see a football rich list out this week claims Roy Keane has more money than him. So what if Roy gets the sack? He'll obviously survive.
I wasn't on that list, if I had there's no way I'd be doing this column and managing Palace. I'd be on my tractor or fishing...in Barbados. I'm only joking. I don't do it for the money. I'm just like Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor when they went to City, it's not about the money.
5. Going back to school left me a nervous wreck
Amy's having a sporty time of it at school. She got in the house team for the swimming relay and they won, so we're all delighted with that, and this week I went to see her first netball tournament. It was good to discover she's in a decent team, they won both games in a three-team tournament.
I also did an assembly for the school's sixth form. I had as many nerves, if not more, standing up before nearly 200 of them than I do walking out in front of 25,000 fans. But I enjoyed it. I spoke about life in general as well as football. At that age you always think your parents are in the clouds, but when you get to 30 you realise your mum and dad weren't that far wrong after all.
They may not always listen, but kids need our advice. They have so many obstacles to overcome that we didn't have; you have to hope they can avoid temptation and come out on top.
I told them I didn't get many qualifications, but that doesn't mean you can't be successful in life. I said, "Some of you kids, who won't get so many GCSEs and A levels, have as much chance of being successful in life as the ones who get loads, just as long as you go for it." I could see the teachers thinking, 'No one will do any work now', so I did add that qualifications do help, not having them doesn't mean you can't succeed, but they do help.
6. Computer love is blind to today's England game
Thank goodness today's England game is on the internet. It saves wasting three hours of the day. Even if it was an important game there's no way I would be watching it. I've only just learned how to turn the computer on. Believe it or not William, aged eight, is giving me lessons on computers. It doesn't seem right somehow. How is it kids are now so clued up? I can't see the game being a big hit on the internet, can you?
7. Vet virtually moves in to terminate the termite
Donald, our Norfolk Terrier, has got a termite in his skin passed down from his mum. It's a difficult one to shift apparently, he'll need this stuff painted on him for six weeks, and regular bathing. Sharon looked down the microscope at the vets and saw it. She said it was horrible. Fortunately it's not something that can be passed on to us or the kids. The vet, incidentally, is becoming one of the family, what with the dogs, the chameleons and so on.
8. Aussies' triumph kills off hopes of revenge
I have to say I reluctantly watched the Aussies batter New Zealand in the Champions Trophy final last week. I thought England lost to New Zealand so they could have some revenge on Australia in the semis. It just shows I don't know what I'm talking about regarding cricket, even if I like it. There's a few surprises in the Test squad to play South Africa. I was delighted to see Adil Rashid, a fellow Yorkshireman, selected, but disappointed Joe Denly, from my adopted county, Kent, is not in.
9. Grant's return puts a youthful spring in my step
I'm so glad that Avram Grant's back in the English game with Portsmouth. He makes me feel good about being 60 when I see he's only 54.Reuse content