Four managers have left their posts "by mutual consent" in the Championship in the run-up to Christmas.
Not much of a present is it? I always feel disappointed for managers who are relieved of their duties around this time. I remember my old chairman Derek Dooley telling me of the devastating effect it had on him when he was told on Christmas Eve he was getting the sack at Sheffield Wednesday. He used to say, "why not do it at the end of November, or the middle of January? There's just no feeling". But I suppose chairmen and owners have their own reasons.
I wonder how many of the managers that have left in the last few weeks are thinking back to certain games where a decision, the thickness of the post, or a defensive mistake, could have just given them that lift to push on.
It is a horrible thing, but we are all aware it's part of the job and there's usually another opportunity. All the departing managers have their own strengths. Paul Sturrock moved upstairs and I'm sure the others, Brendan Rodgers, Jim Magilton and Brian Laws, won't be long out of work.
2. Why the Wolves fuss? Well done Mick, I say
What a wonderful result for Wolves at Tottenham, and what a fuss over their weakened team at Old Trafford. Although I'm Arsène Wenger's biggest fan, I don't recall him complaining about the integrity of the league when I got stuffed with Sheffield United as Liverpool and Manchester United played weakened teams against our relegation rivals and lost. And boy, did I laugh when I saw the Premier League were going to ask Wolves for their comments. I'm sure there won't be any comeback whatsoever even though the Premier League will go to every length to turn over the evidence. Don't hold your breath. Good luck to Mick McCarthy, I say. His first team could have lost 5-0 to Man United.
3. Giggs the greatest role model deserves award
I've never been to the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year before, I've always watched it on TV. After being at Sunday's show I realise there's nothing to compete with being there. It was a wonderful night.
I found it fascinating seeing so many of our best sportsmen and women, at so many different events. The number of times I got goose pimples down my back, and almost a tear at some of their tremendous achievements, it really brought it home for me that that is what we are in it for. When that final whistle goes and you've won, especially when it means you've gained promotion or won a cup, there's no feeling in the world like it. When I do pack it in that will be the most difficult thing to replace.
I was pleased for Ryan Giggs (below). I would say, as a role model, he is head and shoulders above all the other players in all the other Premier League sides. He is a great example to all youngsters that you can be successful and live your life without being in the headlines every five minutes.
I did feel a tinge of disappointment for so many other athletes who also deserved to be sports personality. After all, Ryan has at least 70,000 people to ring up for him, and that's just United's home attendance, let alone the armchair fans. It was always going to be difficult for, say, Beth Tweddle to match that being a gymnast, or young Tom Daley.
As it happened I was sat next to a member of a world champion team in another sport which finds it hard to get headlines: women's bobsleigh. They won the world championship in February, a fantastic achievement given we don't get that much snow and ice in this country (not normally, anyway). In between awards Fiona Harrison explained they were now preparing for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February.
Fiona, who has a background in athletics, only joined the team this winter. Listening to her training schedule underlined the sacrifices many of our sportsmen and women make. They have to really train hard and be dedicated.
I was really impressed that a live show like that went without a blip. The audience were fantastic and did Sheffield proud.
4. Sickness sinks Palace – and the players' party
That was the highlight of my weekend following Saturday's match at Bramall Lane, where we were absolutely pasted and did well to lose 2-0. Sheffield United's first goal did look a bit suspect whether the ball had crossed the line, but when all the press expected a rant from me I just muttered I wished the linesman had been at Bristol City. Christmas is expensive so I didn't want another fine.
It didn't help that half the side were sick. I was woken on Saturday morning at 7am by the physio telling me four players had sickness and diarrhoea, and Darren Ambrose and Neil Danns appeared to have a virus. I had a sick parade at half-ten but there were so many I thought we might as well go ahead with the normal team and see how they got on. In fairness to Darren he should not have started, but when you have someone who has scored 12 goals, and who is playing against their old club, you want your best players to play.
The sickness spoiled the lads' Christmas night out as quite a few had to go back to London. Fortunately I've heard nothing untoward about those who did go out.
5. Freddie Sears at home with Junior Eagles
We had the Junior Eagles party this week, which is always great fun. When I arrived, just one player was sent along. Now we get most of the squad involved, and they play the part of waiters serving the food up to the kids. I'm sure Victor Moses and Freddie Sears sat down to eat it as well.
6. Two kids, two sledges: let's hit the golf course
What do managers do on a Friday afternoon? Worry about their team for Saturday? Not when you've two kids, two dogs, two sledges, and there's six inches of snow on the golf course round the corner.
We've been out sledging down the fourth, and drinking hot chocolate in the snow. Believe me, there's no better way to prepare to play in-form Barnsley today.
7. £75 gloves! Welcome to the modern world
I realised I was not part of the real world on Tuesday afternoon when I went with Sharon to get William some clothes from the school uniform shop. I thought I'd get a pair of gloves as it was going to get cold this week. When I came to pay I thought "that sounds a lot". Then I glanced down at the till and saw "gloves – £75". I couldn't believe it, I thought I'd get 10 pairs for that. But I was too embarrassed to tell them to put them back. When I got home I put them in the glove compartment to use them "for best".
The following morning I went to take William to school and found the windscreen frozen over. I sprayed anti-freeze everywhere, started the engine up, then got round to the back window. I thought, "crikey, this ice looks thick". To my horror I realised the glass was shattered. At first I thought I'd been broken into, and my immediate reaction was: "how did they know about my gloves?" Fortunately everything was still here. It turned out the glass had just shattered, the garage said there must have been a stone or something in it, and the frost shattered it.
8. Clatt chat was not such a terrible crime
I felt a little bit sorry for Mark Clattenburg in the Craig Bellamy incident. He totally got the second booking [for "diving"] wrong, but I was so disappointed to see Mark Hughes's comments regarding Clattenburg talking to his staff about Bellamy at half-time. I think the way he is refereeing now, talking to people, is much better and like to think he was just having a laugh. It's unfortunate he then wrongly sent Bellamy off as it is easy for a manager to bring things like that up. I hope Mark [Clattenburg] doesn't change because of it.
I'm sure results at the moment are getting to Mark [Hughes]. I think he can ride out the storm but he'll have to weed some of his big-name signings out in January. The one thing City's season has shown is you have to be a team to get any success.
9. This year's fashionable present? Bubble wrap
The kids received a big present on Wednesday. They took a couple of minutes to open it, and then played for the rest of the day on what seemed to be 50ft of bubble wrap. It makes you wonder why we don't just give them bubble wrap. I remember James, on his second birthday, getting hundreds of presents, yet all through Xmas all he wanted to do was open the bottom of the cupboard and play with the saucepans.
There's got to be something in the old-fashioned Christmas, when you just got an orange and an apple and a chocolate coin in the stocking. I know it's progress, but you can't tell me kids are any happier now.Reuse content