What a difference a win makes. At Colchester last Saturday I had my first victory since joining Crystal Palace and it was as though we'd won the World Cup. The travelling fans have given us great support and I was so pleased they had something to celebrate.
I gave the lads a few minutes on their own in the dressing room after the game. I wanted them to enjoy the moment. I told them afterwards: "Remember how this feels. This is what we're all in this for. Let's make sure we keep enjoying this feeling."
And we did, because we carried on where we'd left off and beat Preston on Tuesday. There's nothing quite like that feeling when the final whistle goes and you've won. Results breed confidence. Before Saturday we'd drawn our previous three games, which showed we were turning things around, though I still think most people expected us to lose at Colchester.
We've got an even bigger test today at home to West Bromwich Albion, who in my view are the best team in the Championship. I was surprised they didn't go up last year because I thought they had the best squad in the division. I think they would have done OK in the Premier League this season. Any team that can score goals like they do will always have a chance.
I tipped West Bromwich to win the Championship and I'm sticking with that, though we'll be going out to win. Watford and Charlton losing at home to Burnley and Sheffield United in midweek just confirms my view this is a division in which anyone can beat anyone. If Norwich, the bottom club, were playing Watford, the leaders, I don't think you could be certain of the result.
I remember my first win at Sheffield United, which was at this time of year eight seasons ago. The club were planning to appoint me as manager the following week, but I looked at the fixture list and begged them to do it on the Thursday. The team hadn't won for 10 games, but we were playing Portsmouth at home on the Saturday, which I thought we could win. After that we had a really hard sequence of fixtures.
I asked to be appointed in time to take a training session on the Friday. We beat Portsmouth 1-0, then went on such a good run that I was named manager of the month. As I said, one win can do wonders for your confidence.
2. Managers' toll now a national disease
I can't recall when so many managers have been sacked. It's like a disease spreading around the country. Everybody is demanding success whether you're a big club or a small club.
The average tenure for a Championship manager is apparently one year and four months. That's ridiculous. I left Sheffield United in the summer after nearly eight years in charge. Now Aidy Boothroyd at Watford is the longest-serving Championship manager at just two years and nine months.
The disease is spreading to national teams, with England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland all looking for new managers. I think it's very sad that so many managers say they don't want the national job, which should be the pinnacle of your career. Look at Alex McLeish, who left Scotland to take over at Birmingham.
In Alex's case it may have been down to money I hear he's tripled his wages and with a three-year contract you can hardly blame him, though he might have also thought that he had taken Scotland as far as he could. Walter Smith probably felt the same when he left for Rangers and might have been as surprised as anybody when he saw what Alex achieved.
I do think it's very hard for a No 2, as Steve McClaren was, to take on the national job. I fear we've reached a stage where some of the big-name players from the Premier League need to be dropped from the England team. Maybe it needs someone from the outside to make that sort of decision.
Jose Mourinho would be my choice as England manager. I watched him being interviewed on television outside his house. From his body language I would say that he wants the FA to offer him the job just so that he can turn it down.
3. All screen play makes Jack a dull lad
Well said, Robert Green. West Ham's goalkeeper reckons that one of the reasons we're not bringing through enough kids is that too many of them spend their time sitting in front of computer screens.
We've banned William from having computer games. When he goes to a friend's house and plays on their computers he becomes a zombie. I think too many parents find it easier to sit their children in front of a screen rather than encourage them to go outside and play.
William goes training every week with Palace's Under-eights and loves it. Some of the things these kids can do are fantastic. When people say we're not coaching kids properly, they should come and watch the Palace coaches at work. I thought we had a good academy at Sheffield, but I've been really impressed by what I've seen at Palace. I've watched all the age levels and they're terrific.
4. We're right at home in urban jungle
The whole family are really enjoying life in this part of the world. At breakfast the other day Amy suddenly screamed: "Green parrots outside!" They were there on our outside table. I hadn't realised you see birds like that in the wild down here.
Getting the first win last Saturday meant we could go out for a walk the following day. We went down the high street, with William on his scooter, and ended up going to see Ratatouille at the cinema. We had a big bowl of popcorn and obviously were not the only ones as I couldn't believe the mess on the cinema floor when the lights came on. I felt sorry for the cleaners and said to one: "I bet they wouldn't make this mess at home." She replied: "Do you want to bet?"
The other day we heard bells ringing. We nipped down to the church and found the choir practising. There's something lovely about a choir, especially with Christmas around the corner. I don't think William and Amy have ever been as quiet as while they listened. It was magical.
5. Jams hard to beat
Amy's made the school netball team. Her first match was at a school four miles away. We got there at half-time. The traffic in the London area takes some getting used to. I drove 14 miles to a reserve match at QPR and it took me an hour and 50 minutes. When I was at Sheffield I used to get to Bolton quicker than that. We didn't make any mistake with Amy's next game. Mind you, it was at home.
6. It's six of one...
It's my 59th birthday today, though I keep telling William I'll only be 56; it's just that someone keeps putting the "9" the wrong way up. William, who's six, says that in that case he's older than his sister, who's nine. He's a clever little so-and-so.Reuse content