I had a tough decision when it came to England v Brazil. How big a box of popcorn should I order? I spent the week leading up to the match telling people it would be a joke, a waste of two hours of their lifetime. So when they kicked off I was at the pictures, watching A Christmas Carol in 3D. It is amazing watching a film though those glasses, I really enjoyed it, though as I said to Sharon, "I'm glad no one's got a photograph of me wearing them."
I was less impressed, as we prepared to leave after watching the credits roll, at the state of the cinema. It looked like a bomb had hit it. The floor was full of drink cartons, squashed popcorn boxes and cans. There were two girls coming in to clean up. I said to them, "I can't believe the mess, I can't believe people would do this in their own homes." On reflection, I suppose they would.
When I saw the football highlights later that night I realised we'd made the right decision. What on earth did Fabio Capello get out of that game? The only reason we were there was payback for them coming to Wembley. The same applies to plenty of the other friendlies. I bet Arsène Wenger felt the Dutch having a run out was worth it after losing Robin van Persie. Then Kieron Gibbs gets injured. How Sir Alex must have been rubbing his hands with joy, but just when he thought he had got away with it John O'Shea came off injured for the Republic.
2. Henry makes cheating part of coaching manual
What are we supposed to do as managers in the wake of Thierry Henry's handball? We might as well teach players to cheat and put the techniques in the coaching manual. It was a disgrace, an absolute travesty of justice.
I don't think I've ever been more annoyed watching the game as a neutral than on Wednesday. It was even worse than when Eduardo took that tumble – and got off after Arsenal hired Perry Mason.
I had got home, after taking William to academy training and watching the reserves, midway through the game. Like the rest of you, I imagine, I was sitting there, watching the Republic controlling the game, goal opportunities coming and going, thinking it might cost them because it always does. But I could never have foreseen how it would happen.
For the officials not only to miss the first handball, but then the one that, as we say, takes the lace out of it, I find incredible. After the Maradona goal I never thought I'd see another goal of such importance being allowed to stand. The Republic have gone through more than a year of qualifying games and been cheated out of what, for some of them, will be their last opportunity to play at a World Cup.
I kept thinking about Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter, and their refusal to agree with people like Keith Hackett, our refs' supremo, who want cameras on the goalposts and video evidence allowed during a game, all because "it would take the human element out of the equation". If you want to know who "the human element" favours, think back to Peter Walton giving a penalty when David Ngog dived at Anfield the other week. It helps the big teams because human nature is such that some refs will always be influenced by the atmosphere, the occasion, and give the benefit of the doubt to the bigger team when they have not really seen what's happened.
Can you imagine if the boot was on the other foot – or the ball on the other hand – and France had gone out the same way? All hell would have been on. People say, "It's up to the ref to see it." I heard the same comments after they missed our goal at Bristol City this season. It's nonsense. When it's so blatant there's a responsibility on people to own up.
My memory of the night is Richard Dunne sitting next to Henry on the pitch. I was shouting at the telly, "How can you shake hands and sit alongside him after what he has done?" Henry is one of my favourite all-time players but I'd have been on the pitch as manager telling Dunne not to shake hands with a cheat.
Henry, with Zola, Bergkamp and Cantona, has been one of the players who has given me most pleasure in the Premier League, and now he will always be remembered for the handball. That, for me, is one of the saddest aspects of the whole affair,
I think Henry should be banned for at least three games in the World Cup. He should hurt as much as those Rep of Ireland lads who gave everything. I remember thinking the same about my friend Graham Poll when he did the three bookings. I knew then that Graham felt the same pain I felt when he helped Arsenal beat us the FA Cup semi-final and he walked off the pitch smiling. That gave me closure on the affair. Fifa should have the guts now to ban Henry. Everyone says cheats don't proper. This one has.
3. Managerial milestone more difficult to reach
Tuesday night Sharon and I attended a dinner to celebrate the managers who have taken charge of 1,000 games. I think everyone there enjoyed Sir Alex Ferguson's Q&A with Harry Redknapp. It was great to listen to a few football stories. The only disappointment was when the other eight of us who were able to attend went on stage we were given about 15 seconds each to answer a quick question. I think it would have been a great Q&A with everybody involved, people like Jim Smith and Lennie Lawrence have also got plenty of good tales.
Still, the League Managers Association, who put the event on, have come a long way since Jim was in charge. We had no office or staff and he would carry all the relevant documents in a briefcase. John Barnwell did a great job putting the LMA on a proper footing and Richard Bevan's fresh approach has really lifted the profile to give managers a voice.
I'm not sure, given the rate of attrition now, how many others will reach 1,000. It obviously wears you out as, of the 10 of us there, only myself, Alex and Harry are managing now.
4. My heart's definitely in the right place
I was wired up this week for an echocardiogram – a heart screening in layman's language. It is a way of picking up a defect which, in the environment we work in, could lead to a cardiac arrest, usually known as sudden death syndrome.
It mainly affects young men and we had all the lads done. In the Premier League it is mandatory, and linked with their medical cover, but there's no requirement or funding in the Football League. It's only £100 a head and I can't believe, in 2009, we can't get enough sponsorship to have everyone up to the age of 20 screened. I'd recommend it to everyone. Imagine the trauma and tragedy it would stop if parents had their teenagers done. I even had William done, as he had a heart problem at birth. I'd like to thank Gill Thornber and Judith Harkess, of Alliance Medical Limited, for tolerating all the players over the course of two days.
When it was my turn I overheard one of the lads saying, "What will they do when they discover the gaffer's not got a heart?" He didn't know I was listening, but he probably realised after training morning, noon and night the day after.
5. Festive rituals remain a timeless turn-on
On Thursday night I took a few of the players along to the Whitgift shopping centre in Croydon to help Michelle Collins, who many of you will know as Cindy Beale from EastEnders, turn on the Christmas lights. There was a cracking turnout and we all enjoyed it. There's always something special about listening to a school choir singing carols.
6. Criticisms come back to haunt Curbishley
It's amazing what comes back to bite you. When giving evidence for Sheffield United against West Ham in the Tevez affair, Alan Curbishley and Sam Allardyce were both hypercritical of my managerial abilities. Though I didn't make it public I was very disappointed in them. So I could not resist smiling when I read how angry Alan was at Bobby Gould casting aspersions on Alan's nous when giving evidence for West Ham in Curbishley's constructive dismissal case. There is, according to Alan, an unwritten law that gaffers always stick together.
7. Button shows brains in move from Brawn
Interesting move from Jensen Button this week. From the outside it looks as though Brawn were not too bothered about pushing the boat out to keep him. While everyone says joining up with Lewis Hamilton is a recipe for disaster, having the two British bulldogs together might work. Remember, people thought me and Simon Jordan would never get on.Reuse content