HAPPY New Year to all Examiner readers and let’s hope it’s a really good one.
It was a great 2012 for Town, gaining promotion from League I, and they had a great start in the Championship, although it’s fair to say the reality of the higher division and the extra quality needed is now starting to hit home.
The wonderful thing is, though, that it takes only one win to turn everything around.
You only have to look at QPR beating Chelsea the other night to see what a win can mean. Suddenly the confidence returns, everyone wants the ball and people have smiles on their faces again.
As a former player, it’s now enjoyable to be able to relax at Christmas and, for me, that means reading a good book.
This time I was given a copy of Bounce, by Matthew Syed, the journalist who was also a top table tennis player.
It’s been out a couple of years but I found it a compelling and fascinating read.
He writes brilliantly about how stars are not born, they are made.
All sorts of elements are included, but the big one is motivation – and that’s not money, but the people who drive them forward.
In football that’s the managers, and he explains how the very best – like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes at the top of the Premiership – demand the very best from every player for every moment of every training session.
That’s when players become comfortable with producing their best all the time because it’s black and white – there are no grey areas.
It’s all down to motivation and the best managers get it from their players week in and week out.
I found it engrossing and it’s a terrific read for anyone interested in sport and the psychology of sport.
I’VE got predictions for 2013.
Firstly, having had great success last year, I think Andy Murray could be poised for more – and don’t bet against him launching his season in style at the Australian Open which starts on the 14th.
In football, I really can’t see anyone beating Manchester United to the title, even though City have no European football to think about. I also think England will qualify easily for the World Cup, but whether we are capable of doing anything in the Brazil finals next year is another matter.
For the Cheltenham Gold Cup in racing, look no further than Bobs Worth, a young, improving horse who was impressive in the Hennessy. I think Bobs Worth could be the next big jumps star.
The golfing year should provide more success for Rory McIlroy. He looks as comfortable as I’ve ever seen him, whereas I just can’t see Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose or Luke Donald landing a major.
And my big star of 2013, who just gets better and better, is Gary Neville.
He makes the other ex-players who have become pundits look very mundane.
He talks with clarity and sense and if something needs saying, he says it.
That’s why it’s brilliant to see him on the England bench, because he’ll let the players know exactly how it is.
Finally, my Christmas cracker joke: Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field!