I would like to wish Harry Redknapp the best of luck filling my old seat in the dugout at Queen's Park Rangers. It was one of the achievements of my managerial career getting QPR back into the Premier League after a 15-year absence and I would be very sad to see them go back down after all the hard work the players, staff and myself put in. Neither the fans nor the owners, Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia, deserve that.
Harry did a great job keeping Portsmouth up against all odds a few years ago and I'd back him to do the same with QPR. You can't fault the backing Tony and Amit gave Mark Hughes in the transfer market and I'm sure they will do their best to enable Harry to wheel and deal in January and enable the club to move on at last.
I have to admit there have been times this year when I have had to bite my tongue. I kept hearing the team were playing well without getting the results they deserved: so were mine but we did win away from home three times. There was also the comment at the end of last season when my successor said after coming 17th, the same position I left them in, "we won't be in this position again". Unfortunately he was proved right; QPR have not been that high since.
It was difficult to accept when I was replaced. Having met the mandate of keeping out of the bottom three we were about to make the signings in the January window we needed to head towards mid-table. Having kept QPR up I planned to retire and hand the reins over to someone else for a smooth transition. It is easy to look back in hindsight but I think Tony might now reflect and feel that would have been a better way to proceed.
2. Takeover relief at last
As anyone who read last week's column will appreciate, I am delighted the takeover has finally been agreed at Leeds United. It's been a long time developing but the new people are in it for the long term and, hopefully, it'll have been worth waiting for.
In the short term it has created a bit of a buzz in the city and enabled me to bring in a couple of players on loan, Alan Tate of Swansea and Jerome Thomas of West Bromwich, which we needed as we have been decimated by injuries and suspensions. I am also lining up targets for January, but first there are a couple of very tough games to play, with us facing two of the Championship's top five, Crystal Palace and Leicester City, in just four days.
Today's match reunites me with Wilfried Zaha, who has progressed very fast since I invited him to train with the first team at Palace three years ago. He is a fabulously talented young lad and I am sure he will go to the very top.
I just hope he commits himself to England. As I said earlier this month, I was saddened to see Victor Moses go to Nigeria when I am sure with a little persuasion he would have played for England. It beats me how we let Victor get away. It's not as if we're blessed with top-class forwards here.
Working at Palace was one of the happiest episodes of my football career, even though the ending was one of the most upsetting and traumatic.
I'm towards the end of a book about management (available next summer at a bookshop near you) and have really enjoyed recalling my time there. Personally, I would love to see them get promotion for the fans because I know what they have had to put up with. Make no mistake, there were bleak times for them in that period of administration, but it shows you can come out of these situations stronger.
I wasn't able to go to Turin for a few days this week on the pretext of scouting Chelsea in advance of our cup tie against them. Maybe the new owners will let me go to Japan for the Club World Cup. Then again, with a team like Chelsea maybe I'm better off not watching them at all. It will only make us more nervous. When you play a top team you just hope you don't get hammered; results like the one against Everton are a bonus.
3. In hot water again
It's been a while, but I got one of those letters this week from the FA charging me with misconduct after Sunday's game at Millwall. It is in relation to an exchange with referee Mark Halsey. To say I was surprised is an understatement; it was one of the least offensive such exchanges I've had with a ref in my career. I will be replying to the charge in the next few days so there's not much I can say at the present but I'll keep you informed.
4. I'm glad for ref Mark
I am very pleased that Mark Clattenburg was cleared this week. I supported him from the beginning. I simply didn't believe it. I couldn't imagine him saying what he was supposed to have said and I'm pleased there will be no action. No doubt my support won't stop him booking me if he has to, but I am thinking of asking the FA if we can have him refereeing us against Chelsea in the next round of the Capital One Cup.
Before I get anyone complaining, I am only joking. Besides, he would probably give all the 50-50s against us so as not to appear biased, so we could probably be better off with someone else.
5. And in cold water too
I was brought down to earth on Wednesday night when I got home to find the heating had packed in. It was too late to get anyone in, so with the help of a neighbour I investigated. We worked out the problem was probably in the loft and after much ado we managed to open the hatch. It then fell out, covering us with dust and spiderwebs. It obviously hadn't been opened for a while.
After all that we couldn't get it going, so Thursday morning I had to go downstairs and boil up a kettle to have a shave. I then went for a shower thinking it was electric so there would be no problem. Wrong. The water was freezing. So I had to boil up another kettle and wash my hair in the sink. It took me back to being at my grandma's as a boy when I had a tin bath in the middle of the room and a pot sink to wash my hair in. I thought to myself: "There can't be many managers at this level running up and down the stairs with a kettle of water so they can wash."
6. Happy Valli
On Thursday the coaching, management, support and academy staff had our Christmas party at a local Italian restaurant, all 40 of us. They had a Frankie Valli night so it was the obvious choice for me. His songs are at the centre of Jersey Boys, which, if you haven't seen it yet, is a must.
7. Top marks, William
William got such a fantastic report from school we think he might have Tippex-ed over someone else's name. My first thought was "this can't be my son", then I remembered Sharon is always saying he takes after me, so I reminded her of that.
The report I remember most vividly from school is the one I destroyed before I got home, telling my parents I'd lost it. Three words stood out, and still do: "Must try harder".
8. No shock over Robbie
While most people were shocked at Robbie Di Matteo being sacked this week, it did not surprise me in the slightest – I predicted it in this column back in March. It was always obvious he was never Roman's choice but you have to say "well done" to Roberto for not just taking the job but winning the Champions League and FA Cup, which they will never be able to take away from him. I'm sure they will get through a lot more high-profile managers than him but will they ever do that again?
I was not surprised to see Rafael Benitez take on the role either. I am sure his people will have been urgently working the phone to Russia, because it is a great opportunity for anyone to have six months with the players Chelsea have. He will be thinking if he does really well, like Roberto last year, they might even give it to him permanently.
Rafa was one of the first managers to "rotate". I'm hoping he'll rotate most of his best players out of the team when we play them next month.Reuse content