The last day of the season, clubs threatened by relegation wondering what team Manchester United will field against one of their rivals. Yes, this weekend does bring back a few memories. None of them good. As you might imagine, I've been asked a lot this week about the Hull v United match, by people who remember my Sheffield United team going down after West Ham beat a threadbare United side at Old Trafford two years ago.
I've told them all, "Sir Alex hasn't become the greatest manager of my era by not being focused on his job." Alex's No 1 priority is winning the Champions League. Nothing else matters to him. It won't matter what pressure the papers put on him or anyone else. He will rest the players he knows are invaluable for that game on Wednesday. I'll even be surprised if Rio Ferdinand plays, even though he said he'll have to play to be considered for Rome. I had to laugh when I saw some columnists reporting some Football Association rule which insists clubs play their strongest team. I bet Fergie was quaking in his boots to think he might get charged.
Sir Alex did call me after the game in 2007. He described how his team had had load of chances, plenty of shots, he said West Ham's keeper pulled some great saves off. Basically he was saying even his United should have won on the balance of play, and would have done nine times out of 10. I understood all that, but there is also that psychological feeling that Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough will feel when they learn the team United put out tomorrow. Also Hull will really fancy themselves against a lesser XI. And quite rightly so. The one thing Hull have got is 100 per cent effort. The bright spot for the other clubs is that the one thing Hull have not got is a guy called Carlos Tevez. It promises to be an interesting weekend but can anyone see any of the four teams in danger winning a game? I can't.
I'll also keep an eye on referee Mark Clattenburg, who is back from suspension at Manchester City v Bolton. I might give him stick when he refs my games but I am delighted he's back. Like so many things in this life, you don't realise how good something is until you haven't got it. Mark has been, and I am sure will be again, one of the best.
2. Millwall memory of ending up in hospital
It's a big weekend at Wembley with the play-offs. Being laid up after my hip op I saw a lot of the semi-finals. There weren't many goals but they were compelling games and I think these will be the same.
The sequence kicks off with Gillingham and Shrewsbury in League Two today. It's a tough one to call but if Shrewsbury can cope with the front three of Gillingham, who have pace and power but tend to blow hot and cold, they've a great chance. Having just crept in the play-offs on the last day of season, then beaten a Bury side, who had missed a hatful of chances, on penalties, Paul Simpson must think his time has come. And in Grant Holt they have a striker capable of scoring.
Tomorrow is Millwall v Scunthorpe in League One. Now there's another fixture that stirs a painful memory. I spent several seasons at Scunthorpe and one year we played Millwall at the old Den. That was an intimidating ground and it was just as tough on the pitch. I remember going up to head out a corner when Alfie Wood, who was a tough player, hit me like a train. He caught me with a rabbit-punch and a knee in the kidneys. I went out like a light and woke up in the local hospital. Happy days.
Both sides have real battling qualities but it won't be a match for the purists. There are two excellent managers in Kenny Jackett and Nigel Adkins and I've have to toss a coin to pick a winner. I imagine Palace fans won't agree but I'd like to see our local rivals win because of Tony Craig, Lewis Grabban and Dave Martin, who I sold to Millwall last summer. You could not to wish to meet any nicer lads.
I think most clubs with ambition in our league will, from a selfish point of view, be pleased Leeds were knocked out as any club pulling in 30,000 have got to be a threat in whatever league they are in. Personally I'm disappointed as I always look forward to going to Elland Road and I've a lot of time for Simon Grayson and Ken Bates. I'm sure they'll come good next year.
Then on Monday it's the big one, Burnley v Sheffield United, two great clubs with loads of tradition and terrific fans. My old club will be favourites and, worrying for Burnley, I can see parallels with our good side of 2003 when we reached the semi-finals in both cups but found the play-off final one match too far for us. Burnley have had a great season, I'll never forget feeling so proud to be a Championship manager when they were giving Spurs the run-around in the Carling Cup semi-final. Owen Coyle's a cracking manager. It's no coincidence that the successful clubs have good managers.
I think the pure strength of United could wear Burnley down. In their favour Chris Eagles, Martin Paterson and Robbie Blake will cause problems and in Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell they have centre-halves who will not be intimidated by Darius Henderson. Still, Kevin Blackwell will feel the omens are in his favour. He was by my side for four Wembley play-off finals and we won them all.
3. Birthday boy cuts Boycott down to size
Today's a big day for the family as William is eight. For his birthday we got him some cut-down golf clubs and a lesson from the local pro. But this week he said, "What am I getting for my birthday?" I said, "You've already had it, the golf." His little bottom lip quivered and he said, "Does that mean I'm not getting any presents on my birthday and not having a party?" We are strict on certain things, but we did organise a surprise party on Thursday with all his mates which he loved.
William's been practising his cricket. Every night he comes home, gets the ball, bowls, then fetches it. He does it about 100 times. I said to him, "Why not get four balls, bowl them all, then fetch them at once?" It's all paid off by the look of it and I hope to organise some lessons for him. I'm really looking forward to watching him play matches as he gets older. I know some people are bored to death by cricket but I find it therapeutic.
Of course the game has changed, as I find when I'm trying to coach William to play a straight bat. "Like Geoff Boycott", I tell him. Then he watches Mahendra Singh Dhoni and says to me, "Why do I need to keep it straight when I can hit it a long way like this?" I suppose he has a point.
4. Be nice to Arsène
All you Arsenal fans, I've told you before, lay off Arsène. If you've any sense you'll chant his name all afternoon because, trust me, you'll not get anyone better if he goes to Real Madrid. Appreciate what you've got.
5. Blind singer outshines our Player of the Year
At our Player of the Year award, which was won by Julian Speroni, though Clint Hill must have pushed him close, we had music from the Brit School in Croydon, which specialises in performing arts. I was gobsmacked by the amazing voice of one of the girls. When I met her I found she was blind. I said, "Come and have a picture taken, I'll get you in one of the top newspapers in the country." She's called Georgia Collins. Remember the name.Reuse content