Neil Warnock: When I'm England manager there will be changes all right – we'll have a laugh for starters
What I Learnt This World Cup
Saturday 10 July 2010
You need ambitions in life and after watching the World Cup I have a new one. As daft as it sounds I want to be the next England manager. Fabio Capello has got another two years, and after that I reckon they will be looking for an Englishman. There will be hardly any candidates. To be the one I have to get QPR promoted next year and into Europe the following season.
I know, I have no international or Champions League experience, but I really don't think that is so crucial. The players have that. What they did not have at the World Cup is any sense of joy. They were too tense. We have good players, we know that, but none of them played to their capability in South Africa. If I was looking to sign a player on their World Cup performances I would not sign anyone from England, yet we know all of them would get into my QPR team.
How different might it have been if they were relaxed. After 10 months in the hardest league in the world it wasn't more time away playing friendlies and having altitude training they needed. It was a break, and some time with their families. Players like Wayne Rooney are family men now. There is no way you can take them away for that length of time and not bring some humour into the camp. You have to have a laugh. I think that is something Fabio got wrong, and the language and culture barrier will not have helped him. A manager like Harry Redknapp would have killed the tension and stress with humour. Fabio has his own way of doing things, but he's not had a team of English lads away for a long period before. England just looked like they had no enjoyment, no laughter, no humour. It seemed like a chore. They looked shattered, inept even.
2. Del Bosque was right to axe Torres and will be rewarded
I backed Spain at the start and see no reason to change. They have players who are capable of beating you, especially David Villa. He made the difference in the early games when they did not play well. That will have disappointed Vicente del Bosque but they look as if they are coming on to their game now. They have had a massive problem with Fernando Torres not functioning and while it was a bold call to drop him for the semi-final, it was the right one. Capello should have done the same with Rooney. Del Bosque must be delighted, and relieved because he took some stick earlier. I certainly could not have stayed as relaxed as he has on the touchline when they have scored those late goals.
Bert van Marwijk has also kept things low-key. The Dutch sneaked up on the tournament, although they had gone 20 games unbeaten which gives you sky-high confidence. And Dutch players are never short on confidence at the worst of times. He's also been smart in booking them into hotels where there are distractions around. That's a lesson England can learn, as is the way their teamwork has shone through.
The other coach who has impressed me is Joachim Löw, the German manager. He's been very astute tactically. I thought when they lost to Serbia that the 4-0 win over Australia might have been a flash in the pan but then they put four past England and Argentina and he got the tactics for both matches spot on.
Against England Löw played the extra man in midfield, which gave them control and stopped Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole from getting forward. There was always someone to deal with them and stop them bombing on. I know goals do make a difference, and it might have been different had Frank Lampard's shot counted, but Germany should have been out of sight before England scored one. In the second half England played into their hands chasing the equaliser.
On paper Argentina's forwards are superb but Germany were so compact at the back. The defence were a strong unit and the midfield gave them such great support that Argentina just could not open them up. They then broke with so much energy. That, I think, comes from the youthfulness of the team.
3. Age teaches you to be brave, to play to win, not to draw
It is interesting that the successful managers, those in the last four, have all got experience behind them, Löw being the youngest at 50. None of them were great players, either so it is nice to see some unsung names doing well.
Not that I think Diego Maradona and Dunga did much wrong – they came up against good sides. I did enjoy watching Argentina as they brightened up the competition early on when it was shaping to be the worst World Cup in my memory. To start with, most managers were more concerned with not losing than winning. I think that is a matter of age, or rather relative youth. I think that now I'm a bit older I have a different outlook on the game. In the past I would have thought 'That will be a good point here' but now I try to win every game, and I do think the brave ones come to the front.
Ghana are a good example. They play with that little bit of naivety, or fearlessness. Africans embrace the game and Ghana epitomised the idea of playing for fun with a smile on their faces. Not that they didn't know what they were doing. I was very impressed with how they kept possession and moved it around under pressure – they really should have beaten Uruguay and made the semi-final, even before the last-minute dramas.
With regard to Luis Suarez's handball. I know people said he cheated but I don't go along with that. He broke the rules and he was punished. The solution is to change the rules and award a penalty goal like in rugby.
Uruguay were quite positive too, like two other surprise teams in Paraguay and Chile. They were not that open but they had good individuals and allowed them to play.
In that respect the South Americans are like the Africans. They still play as if they are on the beach with friends. We have lost some of that in Europe. Maybe it is a society thing. We work hard to try to get everything for our kids – computers, DS and so on – but as I realised during my holiday in Scotland, many of the best things in life cost nothing. Sometimes we lose touch with reality and it can affect you in all sorts of ways, including how you play football.
4. French players will always regret their walk-out
England were not the only let-down. Portugal were really disappointing, like England they played with the shackles on. And then there was France and Italy. I've got mates in France. I had to ring them after the debacle with the players refusing to train. I said "Thanks, you've made us look good". The players will regret that walk-out for years. As for Italy, I felt embarrassed for them, and for Marcello Lippi. It's not what you expect when you've won the World Cup. Still, there's sometimes a silver lining. I had to smile at Sven picking up another £2m. He's not done badly financially over the last few years.
5. I'd love Gyan at QPR, does he fancy a move to London?
I think it has been a shock to everyone how none of the big names has done well. I have to say, though, I felt at the start there was too much hype about Rooney, and it was probably the same with his equivalents in other countries. We forget how young he is, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are even younger. There is so much expectation; if he has two or three bad games it is like someone has died. I felt sorry for Rooney because he never looked fit.
Instead it has been some of the "lesser" names who have caught the eye, and I include Villa in that. I know he has been scoring goals for years but it is only this summer he has joined a big club in Barcelona. He's carried Spain in front of goal and looks a great buy.
Thomas Müller of Germany has done superbly, while Miroslav Klose looked like scoring every game. Michael Owen could have been like that for England if he had been fit – though I doubt Fabio would have taken him. He should have taken Theo Walcott. I would have played him up the middle.
The Uruguayan centre-halves did well, and New Zealand battled superbly. For them to be unbeaten is like winning the World Cup. The player I'd sign if I had the chance would be Asamoah Gyan of Ghana. I really liked him. He looked very mobile, full of life, and what guts he had to take the first penalty in the shoot-out. That really showed character. I've nothing but admiration for him. I couldn't believe it when he stepped up. If he fancies London he'd do for me.
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