I did feel sorry for Roy Hodgson when I saw Steven Gerrard limp off at Wembley on Wednesday. Roy needs his talisman more than ever now but has lost him for four weeks. It's sod's law. Gerrard is supposed to play for an hour and gets injured in the 84th minute.
It wasn't hard to put myself in Roy's shoes. That very morning I'd been on the phone to Craig Levein, registering my disappointment that Jamie Mackie had played the full 90 minutes for Scotland on Tuesday. I asked if he realised Jamie had played four games in 10 days and the way he plays he puts everything into every game. Craig explained the referee only allowed six substitutions, then he told me he had to take off Darren Fletcher as he's playing in the Champions League, and Phil Bardsley and Craig Gordon, as they played on Sunday, and then he got three injuries.
Maybe if I'd have rung Craig beforehand he might have added Jamie to the list of players who had to come off, but I wasn't surprised to see Fletcher subbed; who is going to risk the wrath of Sir Alex? When I watched Jamie in the last quarter of the game he had not got a sprint in him, he was absolutely exhausted. If you are ever going to pull a muscle it will be when you are tired, as Gerrard found. We were just lucky it did not happen to Jamie. As I said to Craig, "It's not as if it was a European qualifier, you were winning 3-0 against the Faroe Islands." I'm just grateful they have not got a game for 10 months.
2. Memo to Capello – laughter is best medicine for tired men
I read with bemusement the day before the England game that the players were being wired up to deliver all these energy statistics because the fitness and IT people want to know why they looked so tired at the World Cup. If they haven't worked it out by now I can tell them. It's nothing to do with their fitness, it's because they were so miserable. No matter how many members of staff are around the England team, until they get some humour in the camp I don't see anything changing.
All the gizmos obviously had a good effect on them on Wednesday. Talk about a disappointing performance. Watching the game on ITV you can see why I would rather see Coronation Street. Once again everyone was slaughtered in the media, apart from Andy Carroll. He worked his socks off so no wonder he looked sick when Peter Crouch scored. Carroll's a centre-forward who thrives on crosses, and the first one of the night comes in after he has been taken off.
France were so comfortable passing the ball around midfield I felt sorry for Jordan Henderson. It is a pity Jack Wilshere was injured because he would have played there. Henderson doesn't usually play as a defensive midfielder, but he wasn't the only one out of position. Joleon Lescott has hardly played centre-half this season and surely the manager knows Phil Jagielka's a centre-half. At times it looked as if Capello was trying to put square pegs in round holes in every position. I know Jags got criticised on the night, but if he has to play right-back surely he should have James Milner in front of him. He would give Jags some help. Theo Walcott, no disrespect, has no defensive attributes.
Mind, Milner looked in need of a breather. I bet he's thankful the next qualifier is not until March. And the time has got to be right now to give Gareth Barry a rest. Overall the only good thing about the night is that the cheap tickets allowed a lot of people in.
It was not a great 24 hours for England with the under-21s being beaten so easily in Germany on Tuesday, but at least there was better news when Burton was given the go-ahead. It can only help the development of our young players and coaches.
3. My heart goes out to those hit by the floods in Cornwall
On Tuesday I had some lads put up a tin shed at our place in Cornwall. On Wednesday morning I had a phone call saying it had been stolen. They rang back two hours later and said they had found it, two fields away, all broken up in pieces. It was blown away by the same storm that created all that horrendous flooding at Lostwithiel, which is not too far away from us.
I feel tremendous sympathy for anyone who's been flooded or affected. I remember the floods of 2004 at Boscastle, and that town has only just recovered
4. Wilkins leaves and Chelsea lose – is it coincidence?
Sunderland's amazing 3-0 win at Chelsea last weekend must have been the surprise result of the season, and it was not a fluke by any means. In the same week that Ray Wilkins leaves you might ask: is it a coincidence? It is amazing what things like that do. I'm sure if the players had any say in the situation it would not have happened at this stage of the season. It shows the dangers of damaging any cog in the wheel when things are going well.
I've certainly never seen a more lacklustre performance from Chelsea and I'm interested to see how they cope at Birmingham today. St Andrew's is a difficult place for a lot of teams and Chelsea will have to recover quickly. You have to say the winners from the weekend have to be Arsenal, but how many times do you see them get into a situation where you think they will take advantage, then they blow it? And they play Spurs today.
The problems are mounting up at Chelsea. They are obviously missing Frank Lampard, but central defence looks the real worry with John Terry out and Alex needing an op. I couldn't believe Alex was on the bench for Brazil in midweek. It does make you laugh, he must be on appearance money.
I remember my first game at one club early in my management career. A player came off injured after 10 minutes with a hamstring problem. The following Thursday the physio said, "He's fit to play." I was surprised, but I played him again, and he came off again after 15 minutes. As we were travelling back I looked over the contracts, he was on £1,000 appearance money for every game he started. He'd earned £2,000 for 25 minutes.
Come the following Thursday, sure enough, the physio said, "I think he'll be all right Saturday gaffer." I said, "Well you tell him he won't be all right until he's played in the reserves." "He never plays in the reserves gaffer," said the physio. I said, "Well he does now." I said he had to play at least 60 minutes in the reserves before he could play for the first team. He never tried it on again, but I often wonder if the physio was on a percentage.
5. ESPN won't access all areas at QPR – I'm too old for that
I was watching the Ebbsfleet-Wimbledon FA Cup tie on Thursday night when they suddenly started interviewing the managers in the dug-outs while the game was going on. I cringed. I would have done it when I was young and starting out, anything like that was worth doing, like having cameras in the dressing room, but not now. They even interviewed the chairman in the stand with 20 minutes to go.
6. Amy hits heights with her first goal but is soon laid low
Amy scored the first goal for her school hockey team in a 3-1 win against their local rivals this week. She plays in defence and doesn't score many goals. I've never heard her so excited as when she was telling me. It must have gone to her head, she had to have two days off with a temperature.
Will has been doing exams all week. I feel sorry for him. I hated exams. The house is full of revision books as Sharon's been testing him. Fortunately he really enjoys his maths, and I think he will get a good mark at that, but I don't think he'll be a historian. Verbal reasoning is another subject he's not so keen on, which is a surprise since his dad always has so much to say for himself!
7. Hughes deserves to get one over old boys City tomorrow
There is an intriguing game at Craven Cottage tomorrow where Mark Hughes plays host to his former employers. When I tell you I always like to see a manager who has been sacked do well against his old club you'll know where my loyalties lie. Whatever Mark says in the press he will be desperate to do well. If he does he won't need to say anything afterwards. It wouldn't surprise me, given how they are playing, if Man City fans wouldn't be too unhappy if Mark does win. Can you imagine a side managed by Mark Hughes not wanting to beat Man United. Well I can't.
8. I fear worst against lowly Preston in toughest game yet
Today sees our hardest game so far in my opinion, everybody will expect us to win against a club languishing at the bottom of the table, but Preston have signed three good players on loan and Darren Ferguson will be like a wounded animal. And we all know how dangerous they are. We're also coming off an international break which is always disruptive. Darren will have been working with his team all week while I didn't get my players back until Thursday.
The good news is I've checked the weather forecast and it looks OK for this afternoon in west London. Grey cloud, but dry and a balmy eight degrees. I'll be fine in my lucky shorts.Reuse content