I've never felt as shell-shocked by a performance as I did the other night. I still can't come to terms with the fact we aren't in the European Championship next year. I'd already told William we would go and watch a couple of games but I can't see him wanting to watch Russia v Austria. I suppose it is a massive lesson to everyone not to book the ticket until the buses are there.
Yes, the manager is to blame – tactics, selection, you name it. But whatever you do as a manager you cannot legislate for a goalkeeping error of such mammoth proportions as happened to Scott Carson after eight minutes. All Steve McClaren's planning went out of the window when that went in. The tension it created you could smell in my living room. I kept saying "I just can't believe it". Then Sharon came down the stairs, having put kids to bed, and told me off. Apparently I used a few expletives at the top of my voice and she didn't want William to pick them up in his vocabulary.
After England performed a miracle by getting back to 2-2, I still can't believe the winning goal could be scored with our captain eight yards away not dying to get a tackle in. A man I admire more than anyone else in England. It reminded me of an incident two weeks ago when I gave a blasting to a couple of my lads at half-time over conceding a goal against QPR because we did not close down quickly enough. I had to speak to one of the guys on Thursday as he wasn't very well. I asked him about the game and said to him: "What did you think about the third goal?" He said, "Do you mean Gerrard? I thought about you, gaffer".
In the circumstances I guess Steve McClaren had to go but I think it was good that he left the next day. He is such a nice guy he doesn't deserve what would have been coming his way if he had stayed put. I think it is wrong to criticise him for not resigning. I don't think any journalist in the same situation would resign without a pay-off, and look at the guys at Northern Rock.
I do think it was always going to be difficult for Steve, having been a No 2. You have too many close relationships with players when you are a No 2. You cannot distance yourself enough when you step up. I do feel Steve possibly persevered with certain big names when an outsider would have gone for his best team.
So who to take over? It needs someone who is positive and has that charisma. For me Jose Mourinho is the ideal candidate but I don't think for one minute he would take it. If they go local it has to be Martin O'Neill, if he can be persuaded. If he cannot what about Harry Redknapp? The more I think about it, the more he seems ideal. The England job is about getting the best of what you have. At this stage of his career he would love it.
Alan Shearer has been mentioned but he is well liked, and he likes to be well liked. Why should he put himself in a position where you get pilloried by half the media irrespective of what you do? It really has to be a foreigner. As Sven showed, they don't care what we say about them.
And as for the FA. Everyone is telling me they are going to reform. Don't hold your breath. They couldn't even get the pitch fixed after letting those American footballers trample over it.
2. I knew Golan was a good'un
Until Wednesday night I had thought a player I tried to sign last year had got England out of the cart. When I was at Sheffield United I was interested in Omer Golan, who scored the winner for Israel against Russia. I nearly got him over, but the club were not quite prepared to let him go, even though I believe his mum and dad went to speak to the president to ask him to let the boy go.
3. Strange kids' party
Amy went to a party this week. Is it me or have things changed dramatically over the years? When I took my older kids, James and Natalie, to parties they played pass the parcel and musical chairs, just as I had as a kid. At Charlotte's party I watched in dismay as they got a box of maggots out and told the girls to put their hands in to find treasure. To see their faces when they rushed into the kitchen to wash their hands! William shocked them all, though. I told him about how my dad, when he went fishing, used to put the maggot in his mouth and warm it before it went on the hook so it would wriggle when it went in the water. So William was telling the girls, "Don't worry, we put them in our mouth". They must have thought it was a strange northern habit. Another game involved hanging doughnuts from the ceiling and seeing which of the girls, when stood on tiptoe, could eat theirs first. I blame the influence of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here. If the next party involves crawling around with snakes I might have to put a stop to it.
4. Transfer frustration
I've spent the last two weeks in the office on the telephone, trying to bring in new players. It was all fruitless. I had six or seven offers in but clubs want to hang on to them over the Christmas period. I'll just have to bite the bullet. I don't want to sign anybody just for the sake of it, I'll have to be patient, hang in there for five weeks, and get the right ones in January. We did sign one player, and I was pleased to get him. And Shaun Derry, who's come in on loan from Leeds, should settle quickly as he played under me at Sheffield and has played for Palace in the past. He's always had a good attitude and sometimes you just need a new face, even one with a haircut like his. It's worse than ever. I thought I'd signed Rab C Nesbitt. The only thing missing was a string vest.
Against that success has to be set a disappointment this week when I tried to bring in Hogan Ephraim, a young lad at West Ham. We had him at the training ground on Wednesday and he and his agent, Paul Goddard, the old Hammers and QPR player, said they'd let me know. I was aware Colchester and QPR were also after him. Well, I'm still waiting for the call. It looks like he's decided to go to QPR, which is his right, but I just think it is so disrespectful when someone doesn't even give you a call. For me that's just bad manners.
5. Dog in a nappy
Megan, our dog, has been unwell. One of her problems is incontinence. We had to banish her to the kitchen until Sharon had a great idea. Now Megan's walking around the house with a nappy on. Maybe we should get it patented. She looks odd but seems happy enough and is, thankfully, on the mend.
6. Lucky Londoners
Sharon and I felt very grown up last week when we went on a train to "town". We saw Swimming with Sharks at the Vaudeville Theatre. We had a great night. It made me realise how lucky people are in London with so much going on.Reuse content