I decided to take Sharon for lunch at the St Pancras Grand before we set off by train for today's match at Doncaster. Sharon likes the romance of a beautiful railway station and we gave ourselves plenty of time to look around what I think is a wonderful building. I remember what it used to be like, and it is amazing now. We had a lovely lunch, then I said my goodbyes and went to get my train.
As we were setting off I felt for my two mobile telephones. Not there. Haven't we all had that sick feeling? I immediately tried to think back to when I last used them. Then I realised they must have been left on the table. I had to borrow a fellow traveller's phone. But while I was very appreciative to Ray from Leicester, his phone was a Blackberry. It was like a computer and I haven't a clue about them. Knowing about all the tunnels the train goes through just outside St Pancras I was desperately trying to dial Sharon's number but the keyboard's different and in my panic I kept dialling letters by mistake. Eventually I got through but Sharon was already underground so I left a message. Then I rang the restaurant. On the third try, after the second tunnel, I got through. A waiter came back and said he'd found one, only one. Then we went in another tunnel. The next time I got a signal I rang our secretary, Chris, gave all the numbers, and she sorted it out.
I learnt two things. Isn't it great to have a good secretary; and what on earth did we do before mobiles? I spent the best part of two-and-a-half hours on the train thinking about all the people I said I would ring that afternoon, all the messages I had to return, and how was I going to file this column? And then I relaxed, and it was nice to be able to sit and read the paper, have a drink, and not be saying every few minutes, "Hello, hello, oh the signal's gone". It might be an idea to have a day a week when you leave your phone at home. I could just let people know, don't bother ringing on a Wednesday. It would be brilliant, and everybody who reads my column will be thanking me for giving me the same idea.
Sharon got the kids from school and went back to St Pancras, bribing the kids with tea out. It wasn't oysters in the champagne bar. I can't see William appreciating oysters, he'd sooner have a gourmet burger.
2. I tried to sign Torres, then I heard the price
Back to football... what a week, again. Just when we think it can't get any better after the Chelsea-Liverpool match we get another 4-4 draw. Before he scored I was thinking, 'this Arshavin's not getting a kick'. Then, bang, bang, bang, bang. Even then I spoke to someone the following day and he said, "I didn't think he played very well". I hope he never has a good one against a team I'm managing.
Fernando Torres was just as clinical. To me he is the complete striker. Did you know I tried to buy him for Sheffield United? Mick Jones was in Spain watching a couple of players at Osasuna, including Carlos Cuellar, who's now at Villa. I offered £2.7m for Cuellar, but he went to Rangers who received nearly three times that from Villa. Mick watched them at Atletico Madrid and rang me during the game saying he'd seen three players who, if we signed, would put us in the top half of the Premier League. They were Torres, [Mariano] Pernia and [Luis] Perea [the latter two are still at Atletico, and have 48 caps between them from Spain and Colombia]. I rang Martin Ferguson, Alex's brother who's Manchester United's foreign scout and really knows his stuff. He said, "Has Mick lost his marbles? They'll cost more than £40m with Torres at least £20m."
We could have done with Torres at Palace this season. Not scoring goals has been our downfall, though if I asked you who you thought has scored more goals, us or Birmingham, who go up if they win today, how many of you would answer "Palace"? Our excuse is we've not had any strikers for most of the year, theirs, according to Karren Brady, is they have too many.
We did at last get a win last week, which was great especially after Vic Moses was sent off for two unwarranted yellow cards. It's ridiculous we can't appeal which means we'll be without him today for what's a tough game, but a real end-of-season one, though Donny will be delighted there's nothing riding on it after their start. They have done brilliantly to get where they are, all the while playing good football, especially when you look at the size of some of the struggling clubs. It's interesting that only Doncaster and Plymouth, of the bottom nine, have kept faith with the manager they started the season with. There may be a moral there.
3. Roy should do very well at Ipswich
I think Roy Keane is a brilliant appointment for Ipswich. I don't think a Premier League club would have gone for him but this is a great club and an owner who I think will back him, which he needs, and let him manage the way he wants. He'll have to move but it's a nice part of the country with fans who know and love their football. He'll be better for the experience at Sunderland, you always learn more from a bad spell, and he will even if he never actually came through it. I like Roy, I have always got on well with him, and I think he will do very well.
4. Turner has done a classic job
Let's not talk about Burton Albion. I'll speak next week. I fear the worst but best of luck lads and I hope you confound all the doubters. A word, though, for Graham Turner who's stepped down at Hereford after doing a fantastic job. I remember thinking his brains must have gone when he went there. I thought he would last two minutes, instead he did 14 years, even becoming owner-chairman and keeping the club alive.
5. Budget warms me, but not the top players
I bet the budget went down a bomb in Premier League dressing rooms with that new top rate of tax. I'm personally delighted the enhanced winter fuel allowance remains for the over-60s.
6. Any urban foxes want a break in the country?
I have to pass on my congratulations to Phil Jagielka for taking that penalty last week. I had rushed to Cornwall after our game to try and get some jobs done before my hip op. I deliberately didn't watch the Everton-Man United game thinking I'd wait for the highlights. Then I saw the headline on Teletext. So I texted Jaggy remembering at Sheffield he absolutely panicked about penalties, saying "Congrats son, bet you didn't take one". Within a couple of minutes he assured me he took the last one.
Even then, watching the highlights, as he ran up to take it I was convinced he would miss. It just shows sometimes the nice guys do win, but he will need some tickets for that final knowing all his family.
Not that I'm sure I'll watch, it won't be a fast-flowing game even with the pitch replaced. It looked like the field I'd been driving my tractor over. All it needed was a few of my rabbits. I've got thousands. I don't know what the foxes are doing round here but they are letting me down big time. I'm thinking of kidnapping the ones that roam around London and bringing them down to do the job.Reuse content