Left shaking by Brown revelation
After last week's biscuit bonanza, I am going to try desperately not to talk about food in this latest entry into blogville. It'll be hard, but I'll give it a go.
Phil Brown was on last Saturday's Football Focus show. I used to see him regularly when I was a reporter in the north-west and he was Big Sam's number two at Bolton. I've always found him to be a man who loves his football.
Anyway, after the programme we had a bit of a chinwag about Roy Keane and Phil told me about an incident that had happened back in October, 2006.
Roy had only been in charge of Sunderland for about six or seven weeks when his side had come up against Hull, where Phil was working as Phil Parkinson's first-team coach. The Black Cats absolutely mauled the Tigers that day but only won with a goal from Ross Wallace right at the end.
In the manager's office afterwards, Phil was surprised to hear Roy give him and manager Parkinson some advice on how to sort out the Hull defence.
Keane's view was that the system Hull played left too much space in front of the back four. Sunderland's plan had been to exploit that area, so Keane advised the two Phils to switch to three at the back and sacrifice a man in midfield, where they were strong enough already.
Hello, is that Roy?
To my surprise, the two Phils listened to Roy's thoughts, thanked him and made the change for the very next match, an away game at Southend in midweek. It took the team a while to get used to the new system, but they eventually won 3-2 before drawing the next game 0-0 and then beating Wolves 2-0 at home.
I was amazed by Phil's story because I had always thought that football managers were rather stubborn when it came to who they picked and where they played them.
I remember being at Anfield when a group of fans stayed behind to try to persuade Gerard Houllier that Bruno Cheyrou was not the 'next Zidane' they had been promised. Despite the protestations, Cheyrou kept his place in the side. As did Eric Djemba Djemba and Kleberson at Old Trafford, even though everyone watching - other than Sir Alex - seemed to think they were not doing what it said on the tin.
I told Phil I was amazed he hadn't told Keane politely to get lost, but his point was that he always tried to listen to advice... whoever it came from. He said that even if I decided to make an observation about the way his team were playing, he would listen and check whether it was useful and/or relevant.
So could I produce an insight that a Premier League manager would find helpful?
My mind went back to the only two bits of coaching I can remember receiving. Mr Avery was in charge of our Hazelwick school team and would always shout: "Give it, Danny. Give it early, Danny!". Then at Sheffield University, our coach Neil Pearson, once told me that he wanted me to hit my free-kicks with "a bit more northern swaz". I'm still not entirely sure what that is, but I didn't think this was the sort of thing Phil was looking for.
But what advice would you give a manager if he asked you for it rather than you having to shout it from the stands? Would you try to go all technical, talking about formations and tactics, or would you just tell him to stop doing something that annoys you?
When I first started commentating on football, I used to cover Stockport County a lot and the then boss, Andy Kilner, would walk between the dugout and the touchline about 4,000 times a match.
On the way from the dugout, he would clear the contents of his left nostril and on the way back give the same treatment to the right side. There was no digging going on it was just the classic finger-on-the-opposite-nostril-and-blow-hard technique favoured by footballing types the world over. Once I'd noticed if for the first time, I couldn't stop looking at him and it started to rile me. Mr Kilner never did ask me for advice, but - if he did - I would have told him to call time on the nostril thing.
So if you've got any advice for managers, let's hear it.
I was also impressed with Robbie Savage's appearance on last weekend's programme - despite his inexplicable choice of ice-white trousers. Last time I interviewed him was during his stint at Leicester. He finished that particular chat by hurling a custard donut at me. It will come as no surprise to learn that I ate it.
Anyway, in addition to his extensive knowledge of the game, I was impressed with Savage for the very reason he is aware of his limitations. If you've got that going on, the chances are you won't end up with a head the size of Texas.
Finally, I'd like to finish by apologising for my wobbly foot on Friday Focus last week. My brother was the first to point it out to me. During my 11-minute chat with Steve Wilson my left foot was having, what looked like, a touch of the shakes. I think I counted eight involuntary movements before I had even asked Steve a question! I have been training the said appendage all week and, hopefully, the problem will never resurface.