This week has been one of the most disastrous I've ever had as a manager. It started with losing a number of players to injury, including Claude Davis at Hillsborough which turned the match in their favour. Then on Tuesday we found ourselves playing Birmingham with 10 men.
I have to be careful what I say as it is obviously tea and coffee money for the FA. But I just cannot comprehend the interpretations of Mr Paul Taylor who refereed the game. He gave a penalty at Bramall Lane at Christmas for an "offence" which, if applied consistently, would result in a penalty every time a corner came into the box. But he did not give one when Victor Moses was deliberately pulled back on Tuesday. Then he sent Nick Carle off for a good, old-fashioned tackle.
I was even more amazed when the panel at the FA refused our appeal against the red card when it is obvious there is no two-footed jump or anything like that. Photographs, like the one on this page, are inconclusive, as is often the case. I've seen the video which shows it is OK, and so, I assume, have the panel. Who are these invisible people? Have you got to be in charge of Chelsea or one of these other top clubs to get justice with the commission? I thought the lads did super in the circumstances to come away with a point.
To top it all, on Wednesday I found we now have to play Burnley on a Wednesday night, 11 March, instead of the Tuesday, because they are involved in the FA Cup the previous Sunday. Having got £300,000 for the TV coverage of that match, plus the gate money, we have to change to accommodate them. Apparently it is a rule which was brought in because of my then club Sheffield United's involvement in the semi-final against Arsenal in 2003 when we had to play Nottingham Forest two days later. So I've been personally done twice.
Why am I so upset? Because in six days we now play Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley away. We will get back to Palace from Burnley at 4am on the Thursday – so there will be no training that day. We set off for Swansea on Friday morning returning at 11pm. After Sunday off we travel to Barnsley on Monday. So the team are playing in three long-distance matches on the road in the space of six days – they will be travelling 1,256 miles. So will our fans. Yet we have eight days' spare at the end of the season between the last two games. The fixture guys are saying we cannot play then. Obviously there could be tornadoes developing.
I ask you, first the FA, now the Football League, it has got me thinking it has to be pay-back time. Do you think Alex Ferguson or any of the others would be asked to do this? Is there any wonder we complain, and ask the question, "why are amateurs running the game?" It is obvious to me the people making the decision on the fixtures and on the commission cannot have played the game.
I tried to ring Dave Cookson and Paul Snell, who I'm told are the officials responsible at the Football League, but they have had to deal with more important business with the Carling Cup. I wouldn't think Crystal Palace are high up on their agenda.
I want to invite Dave to travel with me for those six days as my guest. I will personally pay his travel, accommodation and expenses to be with me. That is the only way to show people sat in an office making decisions like this just how ridiculous it is. I'm still waiting for an answer.
So if I put the kids out like Weymouth did the other night for one of the games, which one do I pick? Burnley and Swansea are going for promotion, Barnsley are trying to get out of relegation. Either way the clubs around them would be very upset and rightly so. We are already decimated by injuries. To say this is a very good test for everyone around the football club would be an understatement to say the least.
2. Amy slots in well after netball clean sheet
The good news is Amy's team won 9-0 at netball before our game against Birmingham. When she told me I said, "I wish we could keep a clean sheet". She said, "Well that's it, you will now". No-one noticed Amy disguised as a player against Birmingham, she slotted in well beside the centre-half.
3. How old lady sussed I was a fake Bob-a-Jobber
I've a confession to make, which has been prompted by Amy joining the scouts. I was never actually a scout, but at Bob-a-Job time I used to borrow my mate's cap and woggle, do a few jobs and keep the money. But there was an old lady down the road who sussed me out. She gave me a stack of gardening jobs which took a day-and-a-half, then gave me a single shilling.
4. Fitness claim just an excuse for Hiddink
I was disappointed to see Guus Hiddink's comments about the fitness of Chelsea's players after their game with Juventus. When a manager takes over he always has to have a go at the previous management over the players' fitness. Why? If they lose the second leg in Turin maybe he'll say it is Luiz Felipe Scolari's fault because of his fitness regime. Why not admit the system makes them look unfit? Why do you have to knock someone when they are down? It's just passing the buck.
5. A perfect pancake flip and a cup of tea in bed
I had my Pancake Day last night having missed out on Shrove Tuesday because of our game. I missed Amy's first pancake toss, which Sharon tells me was "perfect". They do grow up fast but when you get a cup of tea brought to you in bed, as I had this week, it makes all that hard work bringing them up seem worthwhile.Reuse content