I am writing this column from my bed. I'm lying here with some kind of bug. I've got dodgy guts, a sore backside from where the doc gave me a jab, and a general feeling of being under the weather. So you can just imagine how much better I felt when I heard the Football Association have banned my captain, Chris Morgan, for three games for the incident with Robin van Persie in our win over Arsenal last week.
I am absolutely dumbfounded by this verdict when you consider what the FA said after Juan Pablo Angel elbowed Morgs a couple of games earlier. They said the referee saw it, but I've spoken to Mark Halsey, the referee, who confirmed to me he had not seen it and that he had told the FA that. Angel's offence was obviously 10 times worse than what Morgs did. So can someone behind these black doors tell me what the hell is going on? There must be more Aston Villa fans than Sheffield United in the disciplinary department. So we're without the skipper for today's FA Cup match against Swansea, and two League games. Looks like I'll have to sign a centre half.
That was the second thing that's gone against us from a disciplinary aspect. The other concerned Joey Barton's availability to play against us on Boxing Day. He'd been sent off on 23 December and should have been suspended. But Manchester City appealed, which is their right, and because the disciplinary panel does not sit over Christmas, he was allowed to play.
At a time when there are so many games in so many days I find it appalling, and totally unjust, that the disciplinary panel can't sit for an hour or so on Boxing Day morning. Everybody else in football works over Christmas and in the modern game you'd expect the FA to ensure disciplinary procedures are the same for every team throughout the season and not just favourable to certain clubs. It seems a farce to me. I'm hoping to get some explanation, but I don't imagine for one minute I'll actually get the facts.
2. Transfer window needs draught-proofing
This is a bad time to be laid low, with the transfer window opening, but I'm not surprised I'm wiped out. You wouldn't ask a horse to do the travelling we've done since Portsmouth. It just hit me and I had to go to bed and not worry one iota about the window. That's not easy as it is all new to us. In the Championship if you're struggling somewhere you just loan a player. Now I've got every agent under the sun ringing me. I have to let Mick Jones, one of my assistants, to take it all on.
It's been ridiculous the amount of names they suggest. There's not a cat in hell's chance of us signing most of them. Some of them I've never heard of. The way we have played this year, the way we have fought for each other, I've got to be very careful who I bring in. I don't want to lose that spirit by bringing in players who may not fit in so well. I also think clubs like ours have got to invest in the younger players. We've given debuts to four players this year and they've done ever so well. It's been nice to see the Quinn brothers [Alan and Stephen] playing together in the side.
We will probably bring in one or two and we have made a few inquiries. It's been common knowledge we've been interested in David Nugent but Preston made a statement saying he's not going anywhere and you have to adhere to that. I'm having a look at a number of other strikers and we'll be going for our next target when I'm up and running.
3. Wembley puts romance back in Cup
In the circumstances, it is a relief for me we have an FA Cup tie today. The holiday period took a lot out of everybody at the club, particularly last Saturday, when we beat Arsenal. That was the best result I've ever experienced as a manager, especially with Phil Jagielka having to go in goal. I felt absolutely drained. The night had just about everything in its locker. We were decimated in team selection but the lads gave everything. It showed how good the result was when Arsenal went and beat Charlton 4-0 a few days later.
With staying in the Premiership worth so much to us financially, the FA Cup is not a priority this season. I think it is more for established Premiership clubs. You have to be a realist. Look what happened to Alan Pardew. He got to the final last year, within a few months he was out of a job. It was quite unbelievable.
But I have a romantic side and I will admit the FA Cup is back up near the top of the list now it is returning to Wembley. It never had the same appeal to me when it was in Cardiff.
Swansea today will be hoping to emulate Colchester last year - beat us in the third round and get promotion. I can remember playing at Swansea, at the old Vetch Field, for Chesterfield in 1968 when I was still an amateur. On their side was Ivor Allchurch, the great Welsh international midfielder who was coming to the end of his career. I can also remember looking up at the stands and it looked like a painting with everybody having a flat cap on. It's great to see they are now in a fantastic new stadium, but I hope we don't have to go there this season, we can do without a replay.
4. Beware of kilted men
I spent my New Year's Eve in a Middlesbrough hotel which was full of people in kilts and dickie bows. Even with earplugs I could hardly get any sleep but I could not blame that for our performance - Mark Viduka and Yakubu were just too good for us on the day. I was in bed by half-past 11 at night and watched the fireworks on the London Eye on telly. I've never had a party on New Year's Eve, I guess that's something to look forward to when I retire.
5. Technology is not remotely useful
And why is it the remote control for the television only ever packs up when you're lying on your back in bed, and there's no new batteries in the house?Reuse content