Neil Warnock: A rollercoaster week but festive season will lift me up again
What I Learnt This Week
This picture sums up my week. Down, then up, then down again.
At least, that's how I felt during our match against Sunderland on Wednesday. I've not been as low all season as I was when Sunderland scored in the 89th minute to nick it 3-2. What a cruel game football can be. I was glad to go to Winter Wonderland on Thursday to take my mind off it. Football managers find it hard to switch off, but when you are on a rollercoaster you do tend to think about other things, like, "When will this stop so I can get off?" As you can see, I'm smiling, but that's just being brave for the camera. The kids then went on one of those centrifuge things that spins you around. I couldn't even watch it, I had to walk away. William was green when he came off.
I felt much the same at the final whistle on Wednesday. There's no way my players deserved to lose the game, having come from 2-0 down. We started really well, but conceded a bad goal at a corner. We started well again after the break, but then, seconds after their keeper had made a great save, we conceded a terrible goal. At two-down everyone thinks, "Game over, it's just a matter of how many Sunderland will get". So I was really proud of the lads to come back. We played some great football, which must have been great to watch, and the fans really got behind us. Even the press people said they couldn't believe the noise the crowd generated. Then we gave away that goal. I could have accepted it if they'd been better than us, or the goals were fantastic, but that wasn't the case.
As it was the holidays, the kids came to the game as a Christmas treat. It wasn't much of a treat in the end and when I joined them they were almost in tears. It does affect everyone, but I have to be positive. The way we played, and our response to going behind, leads me to think if I do the right business in January we can give it a right go in the second half of the season.
2. All day in our pyjamas makes Christmas perfect
Football is a wonderful career, for players and managers, but at a time of year when most people can put their feet up and enjoy themselves, football folk are very busy. I don't mind this. I know they are having a rest in Italy and Spain but I enjoy the Christmas fixtures. What I would like to see is a break for a fortnight in January, after the FA Cup third-round games, but I don't think that'll happen in my management time.
At least, thanks to the fixture list, we can enjoy Christmas a bit more than usual as our game at Swansea has been put back to the 27th for television. That means I've been able to allow the players to spend the night in their own beds on Christmas Day before we travel down to Wales.
It won't be Christmas off, the lads still have to do some physical exercise and I'll expect them to go easy on the mince pies and so on. I don't have to worry about that but, having lost so much weight in the summer, I'd be daft to let myself go and put it all back on, so I'll also be forgoing that extra portion of roast potatoes.
I'll spend most of Christmas Day in my pyjamas along with the rest of the family. That's what we usually do. I've got some good presents this year for Sharon and the kids, but I can't tell you what they are because, of course, they will be reading this. The kids are still of an age where they get excited about Christmas, but they also come in useful these days too – I've even had Amy helping out wrapping presents.
For my Christmas wish, I'd like whoever runs Twitter to go bankrupt! And if you ask me what I really want, I would say "three points at Swansea would be great", but I'm sure Brendan Rodgers (below) thinks the same and it won't be easy for us, you only have to look at their defensive record. I'm very envious of their string of clean sheets – recently we've not looked capable of getting one. All good teams build from the back and we have to look for more clean sheets in the second half of the season.
3. Day I was corrected on my colourful language
The main news this week has been to do with John Terry, Luis Suarez and the two incidents of alleged racist language. We are obviously closely involved with the former case so I can't really comment in any detail, except to reiterate that as a club we have always been fully supportive of Anton, but decided from day one not to comment on the subject and to leave it to the authorities. I have to admit that it is unfortunate from the club's point of view that the case now looks as if it will remain live for another few months, as there's no doubt it has been a distraction for Anton.
While I can't comment on individual matters I do feel perplexed sometimes about what's offensive and what isn't. One of the singers my 13-year-old girl listens to is Jay-Z – he uses the N-word all the time. I can't understand why that sort of language is OK in a song my kids can listen to.
Language can be a minefield because the meaning of words can change. I see Alan Hansen has had to apologise for using the word "coloured" on Match of the Day. That happened to me about a dozen years ago when I was at Sheffield United. I told a player in a pre-match team talk: "I want you to pick up the coloured chap at free-kicks." After the match there was a knock at my door and one of my black players said to me, "You can't say that gaffer, it's an insult, we're not coloured, we're black." I didn't have a clue and I apologised to him. Since that day I've never used the word. Language moves on and it is up to us all to keep up.
4. Keen to avoid the sort of stick that Rovers cop
I tuned in on Tuesday night to watch the match between Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers and I did feel terrible watching it, I didn't enjoy it at all. There was so much pressure on the two managers and Steve Kean was taking terrible abuse. I know we're down the table as well, but I am lucky that the QPR fans have been so supportive because they appreciate how far we've come so quickly. I'm not sure I could carry on if I was getting the abuse Steve is, life's too short. He's right that Rovers have been unlucky in a lot of games, and with some decisions, but when I look at our games I feel the same, I think most of us managers do. You tend not to remember the things that go for you.
5. Lost the quiz but win in auction is top result
I went to The Independent's Christmas lunch this week and I was very disappointed we didn't retain our title as quiz champions from last year. I'm still feeling aggrieved that one team was allowed to have eight people in it – including two defectors from our winning team last year. At least they didn't win either. Talking of The Independent, I was proud and delighted to top the Christmas auction. Thank you ever so much to the winner who paid £4,075 to come and watch us train, followed by a spot of lunch in the canteen. When Sharon heard how much they have paid the first question was, "You're not going to bed with them, are you?" I won't be going that far, but we might throw in dessert.
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