Grant Woodward: Rollercoaster ride to Russia with Big Sam’s England

New England manager Sam Allardyce. PIC: PA
New England manager Sam Allardyce. PIC: PA
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I’VE gazed into my crystal ball to reveal new England manager Sam Allardyce’s secret diary as he bids to take the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup...

SEPTEMBER 4, 2016

Don’t know why they call this “The Impossible Job” – 3-0 against Solvakia in our first qualifier will do very nicely. Russia here we come! Was pleased to see the lads take my different ways of thinking on board. Even thought for a minute Raheem Sterling was trying out the transcendental meditation I’d shown him. Then realised he was just engrossed in a particularly intense game of Fifa with Daniel Sturridge.

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OCTOBER 7, 2016

Slight cock-up today at the Press conference for the Malta game. Accidentally referred to Jack Wilshere as “Jack Wheelchair” when asked about our injury problems. Think I got away with it though.

OCTOBER 8, 2016

“Wheelchair” slip-up on front page of all the tabloids this morning. Tried to phone Jack to apologise only to be told it was outside visiting hours so they couldn’t put me through. Still, another win under our belts, although grateful Malta had that goal disallowed. Just shows there are no easy games in international football these days. Not sure anyone’s ever said that before.

OCTOBER 11, 2016

Bit of a setback losing to Slovenia, but nothing to get too worried about. Rot started when Joe Hart threw the ball into his own net. He was distraught afterwards – the lads said he was worried he’d lose his Head and Shoulders advert. Got a strange phone call just before midnight. It came up as Roy Hodgson’s number but when I answered all I could hear was someone laughing. Weird.

NOVEMBER 11, 2016

Press will get stuck into me for not beating Scotland at home but Big Sam’s man enough to take it. Thinking of dropping Rooney though and reckon Wayne has twigged. Got a text from him at 1am offering to play in central defence next game. Woke up to another at 3am saying he’d play in goal. To be fair, he can’t do worse than Joe.

JUNE 10, 2017

Told ITV the fans were right to boo us at the final whistle. Losing 4-1 at Hampden Park isn’t good enough. Dele Alli getting run over playing Pokemon Go the day before didn’t help, but I’m not a man for excuses. Tricky situation before we set off when I had to ask Wayne to get off the coach. “But why boss?” “Because I didn’t pick you, son”. Drastic measures needed. I’ve put a call in to Andy Carroll.

OCTOBER 6, 2017

Do or die time now after letting in that last-minute winner against Slovenia. Must beat Lithuania on Sunday to qualify. Worked on crosses for Andy Carroll in training – he even reached one or two of them. Had to remind the lads he’s only 6ft 4in. Rest of the balls only got about four feet off the ground. With that in mind have decided to stick Jermain Defoe up front as well. Got a nice text from Steve McLaren wishing me luck for the game. Told me the forecast for Vilnius doesn’t look too clever and I should probably take a brolly. He’s a good lad, Stevie.

OCTOBER 8, 2017

Never in doubt! Delighted with Andy and Jermain’s goals – just goes to show what a tactical genius I am! We didn’t even need Kevin Nolan to come off the bench in the end. Next stop Russia. Now just have to hope we avoid the big guns in the group stages. Your Brazils, your Germanys... your Icelands.

Channel 4 show is Blind Date in a brothel

SO there I was, absentmindedly flicking through the TV channels before heading to bed when I stopped at Channel 4 – and did the mother of all double takes.

There, on my TV screen, were a man’s dangly bits. Then the camera quickly panned to a woman’s body. And once again it was all hanging out.

This, it turned out, was Channel 4’s new “dating show”, called Naked Attraction. Now I’m no prude. But this gratuitous garbage unleashed an inner Mary Whitehouse I never knew I had.

It wasn’t all that long ago the public wanted to set fire to the Sex Pistols for saying naughty words on telly, for Pete’s sakes. How did we get to this?

OK, so hits like Game of Thrones score fairly high in the rumpy pumpy stakes, but the nudity on Naked Attraction was so stark and in your face.

The way this show reduces dating to a meat market devoid of anything resembling emotion almost makes me hanker for the days of Blind Date and its cheesy one-liners delivered by lairy electricians from Essex called Steve.

Channel 4 has become the kid who muttered rude words under his breath at the back of the class. It may claim it’s breaking down boundaries and empowering people but that’s rubbish. It just wants quick and easy ratings.

I was relieved to see there had been scores of complaints about the show. Then I discovered most of them were because it featured more male genitalia than women’s. I really do despair.

Courageous Kate leaves a special legacy

GIVEN the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of cancer, Dr Kate Granger did the unthinkable – she put others first.

Her #hellomynameis campaign was born of her own awful experience when the doctor who informed her that the cancer which would kill her had spread didn’t bother introducing himself.

Recalling that it made her feel she “was just a diseased body in a hospital bed”, she made it her mission to make sure medical tell the patients in their care who they are.

Not just that but Kate, from East Ardsley, carried on working in elderly care while writing books and busily raising the small matter of £250,000 for the Yorkshire Cancer Appeal.

She died on Sunday, her 11th wedding anniversary, with husband Chris and her family by her side.

A remarkable woman who achieved so much in her short life, she leaves behind a legacy that means people will feel they matter. That’s pretty special.

The presenters of children's television programme 'Blue Peter' in 1972 (from left) Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with his dog 'Shep'. PA Wire

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