Let’s start this week’s column the right way.
We all lose people close to us - and it hurts, boy it hurts.
Jack Charlton wasn’t family, but he was part of the football family. A man’s man, but a man of the people too, Jack was adored by the Irish, revered by the English and loved by everyone else. And we’ve not even got to Leeds yet!
Jack was a World Cup winner. How many people can say that?
He’s another of England’s World Cup-winning team of 1966 who we’ve lost. That team of England’s finest, that all-conquering team of legends - and the name Charlton was right there. Bobby and Jack, brothers who achieved so much.
I met Jack a few times. He was down to earth, quick-witted and with a great sense of north-east humour. No airs and graces, a giant of a man really, who you couldn’t help but enjoy his company. You’d be smiling and laughing.
I can’t give you the stats, but his Leeds career is second to none - over 700 appearances. They loved him there, we loved him there - Jack was a one-club man who spent over 20 years at Elland Road and won pretty much everything in the domestic game.
But I suppose most of us remember Jack as manager of the Republic of Ireland and what he did with that team, getting them to a first World Cup in Italia 90 having made the Euros two years earlier. They also made the World Cup with him in 1994.
Funnily enough I might have been on the plane with Big Jack in ’94. There was talk he was looking for a centre half and Nanny Harris, my mum’s mum was born in Dublin but we couldn't trace her birth certificate. Me having sunk a few pints of Guinness wasn't enough!
In the meantime, Wales approached me - and the rest is history.
You can hear me chatting about the big man, back in the day in the video below. A real hardman.
RIP Big Jack - and hopefully our beloved Leeds can do him the greatest honour by getting promoted to the Premier League. It could well happen this week - the boys are within touching distance of it and their great fans are getting ready to celebrate.
Already celebrating this week are Man City after their Euro ban was overturned.
That’s a big boost and relief for Pep and his talented team - although it’s possible they might win the Champions League this year. They’re going for the treble.
They’ve already won the League Cup, play Arsenal in the FA Cup semis at the weekend and take on Real Madrid with a one-goal advantage in their second leg of the last-16. They’re at home - and then could take on Juventus in the quarters.
I still think Bayern Munich will beat them if they meet in the semis, assuming they get past Chelsea and then Barcelona. Actually, that’s not a given - well the Barca bit - so things might still open up for Man City to land a first Champions League.
It’s the last piece of the jigsaw for Pep and, while I’ve always thought he’d move on then, Liverpool and Klopp’s domination makes me think he’s still got unfinished business. These two great managers are driving each other on and it’s great for us - and football.
So, to this week’s games and it’s all to play for at the bottom of the league. I’m holding out for Watford to get themselves clear of trouble - and what a game it will be at the London Stadium on Friday night against West Ham.
The Hammers are playing well. They did Chelsea recently and rolled over Norwich last week - he’s some player Antonio - so it’s not going to be easy for my boys. They might lose out on Friday, but still do enough to stay up.
Bournemouth gave themselves hope at the weekend against Leicester but it still looks tough for Eddie Howe and his team - they’re favourites to join Norwich in the Championship next year along with Aston Villa.
Then again, Villa will fancy their chances of getting points from Everton and at home to Arsenal. They play West Ham in their final game - that could be some clash if both are in the mire by that stage. Some finish to the Premier League I’d say.
Check out my predictions below. Enjoy FA Cup semi-final weekend - I did 32 years ago!
Chelsea v Norwich: Chelsea to win
Burnley v Wolves: Draw
Manchester City v Bournemouth: Man CIty to win
Newcastle v Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs to win
Arsenal v Liverpool: Liverpool to win
Everton v Aston Villa: Draw
Leicester v Sheffield United: Sheff Utd to win
Crystal Palace v Manchester United: Man Utd to win
Southampton v Brighton: Draw
West Ham v Watford: West Ham to win
Arsenal v Manchester City: Man City to win
Manchester United v Chelsea: Chelsea to win
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