A Birthday Treat?
Today was a big day. We welcomed Bolton Wanderers to Bloomfield Road for a big derby, but it was not just that which made this day a special one - it was my birthday.
The boys knew and in the dressing room they gave me a big happy birthday. All I said was that a win was the perfect birthday present - a feat which was perfectly possible bearing in mind that Bolton were languishing bottom of the table.
We went out and played our usual style. I like to call it possession with a purpose
. We started off well but it was a fiery clash, Mark Howard the first to receive a caution. But four minutes earlier, however, I was forced into a substitution. I only knew after the match how bad it would be...
Still, we pushed on and it was Nathan Delfouneso deep in first half stoppage time who got the breakthrough for us. He got in front of everyone and prodded home a corner in front of the home fans, who went bananas.
It was good, because it gave me something to keep warm as the players bounced around me on the touchline. Bolton had no time to readjust as the half time whistle was blown almost straight away.
The halftime meeting was brief. "Keep doing what you're doing - the result will come". The players seemed fine with that, but I knew I had to get Ricardo Fuller warmed up as Steven Davies had picked up a niggle.
I'd subbed him off by the hour mark and we kept at it. Everything Bolton through at us we cleared away, it was great work. Bob Harris played superbly and it was his corner in which Ricardo Fuller tucked away the second goal to seal a comfortable victory for me.
It was a bit wild in the dressing room afterwards as the players gave me a bit of a party, but in the end all I wanted was the win - and that was what we got.