I went to Turkey this week for their World Cup play-off with Switzerland. It was a scouting trip to watch a few players.
Well, I've never seen anything like it. All afternoon the atmosphere was building up in Istanbul, and when we got to the ground the crowd was fantastic, everybody was so noisy. But when the game started the intimidation was something else.
At free-kicks there must have been eight Turkey players surrounding the referee, pushing him from every angle. He couldn't book or send them off because it would have been the whole team.
I felt for him. It was so intimidating. I don't think the game was referee-able. I've never seen so much pushing and shoving of an official. Throughout the game missiles were being thrown on and, in the second half, every time the Swiss got the ball the guy on the Tannoy was shouting in Turkish, "Come on, boo them".
There were 60,000 booing until they lost the ball. They must put aside some money to pay the fines. Even before the game the announcer said, "Make sure you don't booooooooo the Swiss national anthem". I never heard a note of it.
The game itself was enthralling. To give a stupid penalty away within 20 seconds, when you are already two down from the first leg, as Turkey did, was incredible. And the game just got better and better, it could have been 8-4 either way. In the end Turkey won 4-2 but lost on away goals.
The Swiss lads were quite tolerant but they snapped when the final whistle went. They were running for their lives to get off the pitch when I saw one Swiss lad whack someone. Then everybody dived into the tunnel and that night they had pictures on television of four or five Turkish lads getting stuck in.
I loved it over there. It's a beautiful city. But you wouldn't want to have to take a team over there. They asked me if I would think about bringing Sheffield United over for a friendly. I said, "You must be joking". But maybe I'll threaten the team if they don't win promotion ... we'll go.
2. Club loyalty comes before a Big Mac
The funniest part of the trip was the tale I heard about the restaurant McDonald's built at Fenerbahce, which is on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and where the Swiss game was played. It was in McDonald's usual colours, red-and-yellow. But that's the colours of Galatasaray, their rivals. No one went in. So they made it blue-and-yellow, Fenerbahce's colours, and now it's absolutely heaving. That summed up the rivalry.
3. I'm lost without my mobile
The only thing that marred it was that I had my mobile phone stolen out of a zipped-up pocket at the ground.
It happened while we were queuing to get in. They obviously hadn't catered for what was going to happen because they had everybody going through airport-style security barriers. You could only get two through at a time and there were 200 to 300 trying to get through. It was frightening and quite nerve-racking.
Although I grabbed the guy who took it I had to let him go because you fear for your life in those circumstances. He'd already given the phone to his back-up and though I had two lads with me we were right in the middle of it and couldn't do anything. It was hopeless.
I am absolutely lost without the phone. You're always on it in this job. To make it worse I had my SIM card copied in case I lost it. Now I'm one of those guys who always puts things in a safe place. I've come home and I haven't got a clue where that safe place is. I've ransacked the house. It looks like we've had burglars in. I can't find it. Still, it's a good time to change my number. Over the last few months I've had a few calls I could do without, as managers do.
And at least losing the phone will stop the press calling me about my position. It's obvious the chairman and I disagree on certain things, but I don't want to comment on it any further. I just want to concentrate on this job.
4. A winter in Whitby pays off
Yesterday I was delighted when our keeper Paddy Kenny committed himself here to 2010. The deal makes him one of the club's top earners and he deserves it.
I saw him at Bradford Park Avenue as a chubby little lad. I took him to Bury, then, when I thought he was a bit soft, sent him to Whitby Town in winter. People asked me why and I said: "Because there's nowhere colder". He had two months which made him a man.
He came back to Bury, got in the team. Now he's cover to Shay Given at the Republic of Ireland. He's got a bright future. I wouldn't swap him for anybody, except maybe Petr Cech, but he'd cost me too much.
5. Sometimes you don't take the money
I've knocked back £60,000 this week. That's what television would have paid us to switch a match in February.
They wanted us to bring our game against Watford forward to a Friday night. But we are already playing on the Wednesday at Derby. We'll get back late so we'd have Thursday off and our only preparation would be Friday morning. So I've said no.
Some clubs in our league would have had to take it but that £60,000 would cost us much more if it affected promotion. The Sky money has been vital with the collapse of ITV Digital, but you have to look at the big picture.Reuse content