I came back from exchanging team-sheets in the referee's room before Sunday's FA Cup tie with Tottenham, handed theirs to Mick Jones, my assistant manager, and said: "Look at that. We'll do well to get a kick." Andre Villas-Boas had picked a virtually full-strength side.
Fortunately, you don't win games on the team-sheet. We set up to try to nullify their strengths, every player really pulled their weight, the fans got right behind us and the early goal settled us down. I was especially pleased it was Luke Varney who scored as I'd put him in instead of Luciano Becchio, our top scorer. Luciano's been the subject of a lot of transfer speculation and I made up my mind midweek not to play him, but Luke's not exactly a fans' favourite. So all credit: he stood up to be counted, not just taking his goal well but contributing all the way through. When you are up against wide players such as Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale you need your own wide players to help out and they did.
A terrific goal by Ross McCormack gave us a cushion but Bale produced a great piece of skill to get Spurs back into it. Our centre-half Tom Lees said he was the one who headed Gareth's cross in, but as no one seems to have noticed Tom's happy to let Clint Dempsey have the goal.
I expected the Alamo after that but it did not materialise. Then Michael Brown, who'd been magnificent, gave away a daft free-kick in injury time. I turned to my coach, Ronnie Jepson, and said: "If they score he'll never kick a ball for me again." Jeppo said: "I'm just crossing all my fingers for him, gaffer."
Then I realised Brad Friedel had come up for the free-kick and no one had picked him up. Inevitably, Friedel got his head to it but we managed to clear and should have had a third on the breakaway, but the spoilsport referee blew for time before Rudy Austin could score.
To beat a strong Tottenham side everyone had to do a bit more and they did. I did not have a man of the match, everyone was a nine out of 10 for me as they had all done their jobs. And when one did make a mistake, their mate got them out of it.
It's a match to remember because we've had a difficult few weeks. Even though we've won six on the trot at home the fans have been a bit restless; they cheered sarcastically when we had a shot against Bristol City, which these players don't deserve, they try their hardest.
I had some guests and we were about to leave when one of them said, "The fifth-round draw's in a few minutes, let's wait for it." I knew which teams I didn't want – mainly from our division. The first few names it was "we don't want them". Then Manchester City came out. Everyone went "Yes!", I went "Oh no". After the initial shock I think it is a great draw. It's good financially and Manchester City v Leeds has a big-match ring to it. We've we'll try to get it right tactically and give them a game. I wonder if my old mate Carlos Tevez will play?
Yesterday sums up why I've been in football all these years. When you defy the odds – and most of my career I have been the underdog – it is a great feeling. To send the fans home happy, knowing they'll be buzzing all week, is what keeps us managers going. These are the days I'll miss when I pack it in.Reuse content