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Neil Warnock: Roberto Mancini and the day my shorts let me down

Leeds boss recalls an earlier meeting he had with the Manchester City manager ahead of their meeting in the FA Cup this weekend

Roberto Mancini started his managerial career at Fiorentina in Serie A. I started mine at Gainsborough Trinity in the Northern League.

I was reminded of that when I went to the Grand Prix a couple of years ago. He was in the most immaculate suit I’ve ever seen and I was there in my shorts!

I’ve never felt so underdressed in my life.

He came over and we had a chat. He was talking to other Italians. He must have been saying to them, “I’m sorry about this chap dressed like this. I’ve got to talk to him because he’s another manager.” It was in Dubai when I was at Queen’s Park Rangers. He was at Manchester City by then.

I bloody wish I’d put a suit on. I had no idea what the dress code was. It was so hot. They were dress shorts I had on, though, and I did have a belt on and my top half was covered. I did cringe when I saw them all dressed like that though. Oh dear. He manages in a different world to me.

They weren’t supposed to have paid out very much last summer in transfer fees, when they missed out on Robin van Persie. They still spent something like £50 million and people thought they didn’t spend much! That tells you the level they are at. I think I brought in seven players on free transfers.

We are playing them when they’ve nothing else to play for but the FA Cup.

When Mancini said he is going to make changes because he only wants players who try, that means Carlos Tevez and Vincent Kompany will be playing, all his first-team players.

They have a really phenomenal record at the Etihad, but it’s a game we’re all really looking forward to.

This is our ninth cup tie this season. We’ve beaten Southampton, Everton and Spurs.

Everton and Tottenham were really good scalps. They played really strong teams. It was a tremendous achievement for the lads. I know they’ve all really been looking forward to this. Now we have to try and add Man City to the list.

We are the big underdogs, we know that. Why can we win this game against the champions of England?

Because our lads might play twice above themselves. Because it’s been a great FA Cup this year with upsets and we hope to make another one.

And because I’ve got a number of players who could play in the Premier League. They will relish the chance to show what they can do.

We’re playing against the champions of England and we have everything to play for.

You can look at the chances but that’s what makes football and the FA Cup such a fantastic game. No matter, nobody can definitely say we can’t win.

They are expected to win easily. I’ve been in dressing rooms like that  before. It’s not easy. There is pressure. There isn’t on us. It’s a fantastic challenge and I can’t wait.

I will be telling them about early in my career when I was at Notts County and we played the mighty Manchester City. They had Peter Reid. I will never forget the game. It was snowing all week. I took the lads sledging because we couldn’t get on the training ground.

The cameras came from Central to watch us and they did some filming in Nottingham. The players were all flying around on sledges behind me when I was being interviewed, then a big sledge came flying past, just missing a tree, and my two goalkeepers were on it. If they’d hit the tree I would have had to play Man City without a keeper!

All the supporters came down to the ground and got the snow off the pitch. Peter Reid came with his assistant Sam Ellis on the Saturday morning to try and get it off. The ref was having none of it and we managed to get it on and it was a fantastic day.  We ended up winning 1-0. It proves these things can happen. I know it’s a different Man City now but it’s game we should try and relish. We have to make it a Cup tie that we can win.

I still think they’re a hell of a team. I personally think Mancini should get another year and another crack. I think he’s done a good job there bringing their first championship.

It’s not easy to do what he did, to win the championship and the way they did it will never be forgotten.

What we spent is a different level. All managers would like to spend the sort of money that Man City have, but I don’t think it’s an easy job managing a club like that.

To keep that number of players happy, all world-class and the egos they have. I had it for a season at QPR, that’s the part I least enjoyed about the Premier League.

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