What a week! Newcastle United and Manchester City coming to Selhurst, and in between our transfer embargo gets lifted leaving me with a frantic week to find reinforcements.
You may not know that the embargo covered everything. We were not just banned from buying anyone, we couldn't even sign players on free transfers or on loans. Obviously I kept trying to line things up, but players don't want to risk waiting and understandably go elsewhere if they get another offer.
So when it was lifted on Monday I got on the phone. First we brought in Ryan Smith, a clever winger who started at Arsenal and had been released from Southampton. He's had a mixed career with a number of clubs but I liked what I saw when he came on trial and I feel it's good to give players a chance to put their career back on track. I suppose the same goes for Claude Davis, who's been training with us and who we'll sign as soon as his work permit is sorted. I think a few at Derby will not be unhappy Claude's gone, he is a bit of an enigma, but on his day he's a terrific player. Maybe it depends what music he has on his earphones before the game. I'll have to get him listening to Perry Como.
But the main target slipped through my fingers. I'd been working for weeks to bring Craig Beattie on loan until Christmas. He had a good spell with us last season. West Brom agreed, but wanted him to play in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. I thought he was only going to play a half, but he scored after 10 minutes and they kept him on. All the way into extra time, when he scored again. I'm sitting watching this on Sky Sports, and I obviously wasn't alone as the following morning, as we're expecting Craig to come down for a medical, we hear Swansea have come in with a bid of £500,000 rising to £800,000 with add-ons. We can't compete with that. It may be my own fault, as I told him, "go out with a bang, score some goals". A lot of hard work has gone up the chimney. The search goes on to get someone in...
2. We were not in awe of City's £160m team
Newcastle and City both beat us 2-0. But what different games. Last Saturday was a damp squib. Having prepared all week we went behind within a minute, throwing all our plans into disarray. After 15 minutes it was two-down. At least we kept our heads up and were the only team that looked like scoring afterwards.
There was another good atmosphere on Thursday when Mark Hughes paid us a lot of respect by playing their full team, including Joleon Lescott who had only just signed. Their team cost £160m-plus, and the two lads who cost nothing, Micah Richards and Stephen Ireland, are pretty useful too. I was pleased the lads were not in awe of their star names and played really well. We had some chances and might have won two penalties.
3. I was expecting violence at West Ham
Obviously the pictures of the trouble around the West Ham-Millwall match were sickening but sadly they were not that much of a surprise. Over the weekend and on Monday all my staff at the training ground were telling me how much trouble they'd heard there was going to be. The police must have heard the same. But by all accounts it was well planned and there's not a lot you can do about that. I felt for people who took their kids. It must be frightening to have your kids there with so much carnage going on. If the clubs meet again it should be behind closed doors. We've come a long way in this country, Tuesday was a reminder not to be complacent.
The worst trouble I experienced was at my first game as a League manager, when Wolves came to Scarborough in 1987. It was frightening to see the damage being caused at our homely ground. I'll never forget walking out with Graham Turner, the Wolves manager, to appeal for calm. A Coca-Cola can whizzed inches past my ear. I thought nothing of it until I picked it up and found it was full of sand. It would have killed me.
In last few years I've not seen so much in this country but I've had some hairy experiences abroad. I remember going to watch Dirk Kuyt playing for Feyenoord. That was frightening. But the most intimidating atmosphere was in Istanbul, the infamous World Cup qualifier between Turkey and Switzerland. I've never seen violence like it. I was sat with the Turkish fans and I've never supported a team like it in my life. Every time these big guys around me jumped up to cheer or complain I did the same. I knew it would all go off once the Swiss won, but it was still amazing seeing the Turkish players attack the Swiss like they did.
4. Sol may find it hard to adapt to League Two
I like to keep an eye on my old club, Notts County, especially now Sven is trying to emulate me by taking them into the top flight, albeit on a different level of resources. I'm so pleased Sven has signed someone else who is going for the challenge, not the money. Sol might find it is not as straightforward as he thinks it will be. It doesn't take long to lose your fitness, and he's not trained for a while. And even when he's fit he'll find he doesn't get much time on the ball. I always thought he was a lesser player when pressured and teams in that division will try and unsettle him.
If Sven's reading I'd like to repeat what I said to Mark Hughes the other night, if your Sheikh's got a brother, even his poorer brother, or any other relatives, please get in touch so we can help Crystal Palace.
5. I'm a very successful manager... in video games
I was pleased for Martin O'Neill on Monday night. Managers get written off so quickly now and the first weekend saw everyone predicting doom and gloom for Aston Villa. How satisfying it must have been for him to go to Anfield and win.
I did smile when he said so many people think they are experts because they play the computer manager games. We've got one ourselves. James, my eldest, plays with William and I sometimes join in. The most successful part of my career is when they have me on the computer. I always ask them to take pictures of the screen when we're high in the Premier League.
But they are not the real world. William keeps pointing out players and saying, 'Buy him, he's good'. And he's £20m. There're some good computer games but we limit the time on them. And if William misbehaves he doesn't see his Nintendo DS for a fortnight.
William's also into his golf. He's got a lovely swing. So we got some air balls and play in the back garden, chipping into the mop bucket. Will likes to count them even if they bounce out but the girls won't let him. Even at a game like that he's got to be a winner. He played his mother first game, but she wanted to win so he soon dropped her.
6. It turns out the gaffer is a genius
I had a wonderful day at The Oval last Friday. You'll remember that was when Stuart Broad took all those wickets after lunch. At lunch Alec Stewart and Mark Butcher had come into our hospitality area to have a chat to everyone. The Aussies were 61-0 and we all feared the worst. We asked Alec what he thought would happen. He said: "It'll all be over Sunday night and we'll have won." Everyone thought he had a screw loose. Turns out the man's a genius. Must be why they call him "Gaffer".Reuse content