I'd like to pass on my congratulations to David Moyes, who was voted the League Managers' Association Manager of the Year this week. It's a wonderful honour to be recognised by your peers and a great way to head to Wembley today.
David got my vote, even if voting for him a few years ago was one of the bigger mistakes I've made. It was 2003, when Sheffield United reached the semi-finals of both cups and lost the play-off final. It was shattering to come so close but we had had a fantastic year, especially given our resources. That season, when the voting form arrived, I asked Kevin Blackwell, then my assistant, who to vote for. He said, "Moyes has done well, put him down". On the night I lost the award by one vote, my vote, as David won.
All us managers are asked to vote for an overall manager of the year, and to cast three votes for the best manager in our division. In the Championship this year I voted for Owen Coyle, who took Burnley up on Monday, Alan Irvine, who took Preston in to the play-offs, and Mick McCarthy, whose Wolves team won the title. I think Owen and Alan will both be sought after in the next couple of years. They have both gone about their business quietly and produced teams that play good football on a small budget.
Back to the FA Cup and I know one person who will be absolutely gutted today even if he'll be putting a brave face on it. That's Everton's Phil Jagielka, who's injured. If anyone deserved to play at Wembley it's him. He's got a wonderful family and I'm sure he'll have another chance at a big day like this.
Chelsea will be going all out to get a win to give Guus Hiddink a glorious farewell but Everton are probably the only team outside the top four who can give Chelsea a good run. There won't be many goals, but Everton, with Cahill, Osman and Saha, are capable of scoring goals.
2. No carping, I landed a whopper in Cornwall
With Jags not playing I'm not sure if I'll watch the FA Cup final. I've managed to get this week off so I'm making the most of the weather in Cornwall. It did take 12 hours to get here, but that's because when we saw the traffic jam at Stonehenge we turned off and went down through Axminster and Beer (great name isn't it?). We finished up having fish and chips on the front at Sidmouth in glorious weather. That's got to be the way to travel down.
In weather like this Cornwall is wonderful – at the risk of sounding like an advertising man for the Cornish Tourist Board, why go anywhere else? It's a testament to the quality of life here that I meet so many professional people who have quit their jobs to become postmen, or run a café. They come for a holiday, enjoy it and decide to stay.
I've even been fishing this week – look at the whopper I caught on Thursday (below, it's bigger than it looks on the page, honest). It's a carp, I think. I got a roach as well. From our base near Looe we've been through the pyramids (the china clay mountains) to St Austell for a cricket coaching course. A fantastic coach, Sean Hooper, took William on a two-day course which he really enjoyed. I think it's great that volunteers like Sean – who is a full-time coach but still did these sessions in his own time – help to bring kids on. There's a big game on at St Austell's picturesque cricket green tomorrow, Cornwall v Wiltshire in the Minor Counties Cup. I think our boys need to win to reach the quarter-finals.
We might go and cheer them on. Not that I got away from football completely. It turns out Sean used to manage Bodmin FC, and twice came up against me when I brought Sheffield United down here on tour. Small world isn't it?
3. Barcelona confirm my forward thinking
The Champions League final, brought home to me once again how technically naive we are when facing Spanish players who caress the ball. I thought it was good for football that three of the best players were 5ft 6in and under. Andres Iniesta was superb; I thought Carles Puyol also had a great game at the back.
I did have to laugh when I heard pundits saying Manchester United did not close them down quick enough. It's impossible to close down players as good as that when they have their heads up. I was pleased for Thierry Henry that he finally won the Champions League. I think he did so much for football in England.
You could sense during United's early dominance that Barça were going to get an opportunity. When they did, they took it and didn't they punish United after that? It proved once again, as many managers know, that goals change matches and if you have the chance to score first you need to take it. It's why I'm trying to get forwards in for Palace.
It was the same with my old club. If Sheffield United had scored in that early period in Monday's play-off final when they were on top they might well have won. I didn't get the chance to see it myself, but I did listen on the radio. Don't matches sound exciting on radio? I guess it wasn't meant to be for United, though they could have had a penalty or two.
My old assistant, Kevin Blackwell, will be disappointed at the way they ended up playing on the big stage but they have had a fantastic run since Christmas and that form should give him hope for next year.
4. Toon are favourites but it'll be slog on Tyne
What a season it's going to be in the Championship. It's great for clubs like us to have teams like Newcastle coming to visit. Middlesbrough and West Bromwich play good football, I think Leicester and Peterborough, who've come up, will both be strong. They have money behind them and good managers. We're 33-1, which I think is about right , though we'll be looking to beat those odds.
I was enthralled with the relegation battle. As I said, I couldn't see any of the four in peril winning a game and as Newcastle slid to defeat at Villa Park I was wondering if Alan Shearer was standing by the dugout thinking about the goal Howard Webb disallowed against Fulham last week. I understand why Newcastle are favourites to go up but it won't be as easy as the bookies think.
5. I've found a Barclays you can really bank on
Amy brought me breakfast in bed for the first time this week. I'm not shouting from the rooftops but it could be the start of something good. My hip's feeling good. I'm doing plenty of swimming exercise and hope to be fit for pre-season. We restart on 1 July and will be going to America for a week to play a few games including one against our development club, Crystal Palace Baltimore. That match might go to The Wire.
For now I'm making the most of the break. Last night I took Sharon out for our wedding anniversary to a place called Barclays in Looe. It's run by a couple of brothers from Doncaster. There's a waiter there I've known for years called Richard, it's got wonderful sea views, and I highly recommend it.
That's it from me this season. I'd like to say a big thank you to all my readers. Your response is very rewarding. I seem to have readers in every walk of life. From the comments I have read elsewhere there's obviously quite a number of fellow journalists from lesser papers who tune in. Have a good summer, see you next season.Reuse content