Neil Warnock: At long last the new season is here – and it's guaranteed to be pain-free

What I've Learnt This Summer

My summer began in the operating theatre. As you may recall, within 48 hours of drawing with Sheffield United in our last league game I underwent a resurface of my hip. The operation was a fabulous success but the recuperation has not been plain sailing. I've been doing my post-op exercises but no one told me I should have been building up my thigh muscles beforehand.

I knew I had a problem the day after the op when the physio asked me to lift my leg off the bed while keeping it straight. I couldn't get it off the bed while the other leg I could point up to the ceiling. I've worked hard since and my leg is almost back to normal. The great thing is the relief from the pain. It's fantastic being able to walk, drive, sleep, etc, free from pain.

Surely Amy's courtesy award won't shock referees

This summer Amy left school. She'll be starting big school next month. I went to the speech day, as all doting parents do, and I was absolutely made up when Amy's name was called out to receive the Year 6 courtesy award. Obviously, I'm sure all refs will agree, she takes after her dad. I have to say I were really proud of that, more so than if she had won a subject award. I thought to have your kid grow up with manners like that was the tops.

When it was over, the girls all went off in shared limousines. Just like the day I left Frecheville School in Sheffield! They were all crying their eyes out – you realise, and they realise, they are growing up.

Afterwards we went to Costa Coffee in Beckenham. I ordered but forgot to ask for a coffee for myself. I said to William, "Can you order me a black coffee with some hot milk, please". He ran away and come back to announce proudly: "I've ordered a hot coffee with some black milk". Those moments are priceless.

My giant prawn is exposed as just a shrimp

With my hip op making extended travelling difficult, our summer holiday was in Cornwall. As always the best entertainment was free. We were crabbing off the harbour side, then rock-pooling for what must have been four hours. It's amazing what you can find. We really got into it. Amy pulled a big stone over and William saw this black thing move. It was a huge crab. I then caught the biggest prawn you've ever seen. Or so I thought. As we were going this obviously professional prawn-catcher come along the gangway with a massive net. We said, "What have you got?" "Some prawns," he said. They were 10 times the size of mine. If ever a man sank in front of his children – I was no longer the hero.

Acting out the West Wing in the White House

Talking of crabbing, Crystal Palace went to Baltimore on pre-season tour. I've never seen crabs like the ones there. We ended one night with five of us on this table and we had three dozen extra large crabs. What a mess! Some people do it every night. That might be a bit much. To do it once was great. Once in a lifetime, that is.

While we were there we not only went to Washington but Mick Jones and I went in the White House. The Americans we were working with couldn't believe it, it's really hard to get in post-9/11. Mick had a contact there who managed to swing it. There was incredible security, understandably, but the experience was amazing. I loved it. We tagged on to a couple of people who had a marine explaining the history behind all the rooms and what they were for. It was just like being in an episode of The West Wing.

We had a good couple of weeks out there – though it was ever so hot. We played on two baseball grounds. They put turf over the mounds. They were amazing stadia, there was so much around them for kids. And these were not even Major League grounds. A few of the lads saw the Baltimore Orioles play, I didn't go but did get a souvenir sign for my games room.

Never write off the Aussies

Back home we went to The Oval to see England against West Indies in the Twenty20. I still can't understand why we put them in to bat. Coming across from Beckenham it was obvious you batted second. The Windies would never have knocked off 160-odd but Duckworth/Lewis handed them the game on a plate. I thought it was a farce.

The Ashes has been better – until yesterday. As dominant as we've been, it would not have surprised anyone to see the Aussies come back. It's like watching Germany play football. You think you've got it over them, then, bang, they find something.

I've had to laugh at everyone saying it's not cricket to boo Ricky Ponting. As if it bothers a great player like that. Professionals accept that. He'll be more disappointed with being out than anything the fans say.

It's been a good summer for sport. I thought Roger Federer was amazing at Wimbledon, though we were all rooting for Andy Roddick, who took defeat so well. As for Andy Murray, it was like Tim Henman, wasn't it? Raising our hopes, then losing.

In my part of country we were all jumping with joy for Tom Daley, the West Country diver. Full credit to him, and to the girl swimmers. And even Lewis Hamilton won a grand prix – not forgetting the fantastic job Jenson Button has done.

Sears can be a cutting edge

Football's back, and at Palace we're raring to go. The chairman said this week he's never known a worse time in football financially but he's got some enthusiasm back with the arrival of his daughter and has put £5m of his own money in this summer. Anyone who knows Simon knows when people write him off he comes back

We are, unfortunately, under a transfer embargo at the moment, which may save me a lot of hassle taking phone calls from agents, but is a bit inconvenient, given the season's about the start. However, before it was imposed we did some decent business bringing in Freddie Sears, Darren Ambrose and Stern John without paying a fee.

I'm delighted to get Freddie in on loan from West Ham – there was stiff competition for him. He's enthusiastic and talented. I was desperate to get Ambrose. I once offered £1.25m for him, that's how highly I rate him. People forget he's only 25. His ability is not in question, I'm hoping to put a glint back in his eye. John's always scored goals and he'll help the young strikers like Freddie, Sean Scannell and Victor Moses.

Don't expect Sven to linger long at Meadow Lane

Having previewed the Championship in these pages yesterday (see the website if you missed it), here's a few thoughts on Leagues One and Two.

Having played four teams from League One pre-season, I think Norwich look the best equipped. They've done well to support Bryan Gunn, who's got in some players who are right for that division. Leeds are rightly favourites, Charlton won't be far away and my old club Huddersfield are pushing. Andy Scott's Brentford may surprise a few while I'll be keeping an eye on Paul Tisdale's Exeter after successive promotions.

In League Two the focus is on Notts County, because of Sven. I don't know what all the fuss is about, he's only on 20 times what I was paid for managing County. And I had to pick the team. I don't think anyone believes he'll last long. I expect Rotherham and my old club Bury to be in the running along with Bradford, managed by my old assistant Stuart McCall.

Three other teams I'll be watching out for are Torquay, back in the League under Paul Buckle, Darlington, where Dean Windass faces a steep learning curve as assistant to Colin Todd, and my old club Burton. Chairman Ben Robinson has gone for the untried Paul Peschisolido to lead their debut League campaign. Paul played for me. He's a superb guy, whose enthusiasm will rub off. He also seems to be better than me at getting loanees from Birmingham. He must have better contacts there.

Finally, it's good to see Peter Jackson and Keith Alexander battling away again at Lincoln and Macclesfield respectively, having overcome life-threatening illnesses. Things like that put a football result in perspective, something all us managers (and hopefully our chairmen) need to remember over the next 10 months.

All suited and booted for James' match of the day

The summer event was my big boy's wedding in Harrogate. We've all been desperate for James to get married as Amy wanted to be a bridesmaid, which she was along with Natalie, my eldest. William was page boy. All dressed up he had the awesome responsibility of keeping the ring in his pocket all morning. I only saw it 20 times. It was a great occasion and we're delighted to welcome Sarah into the family. It must be terrible when you don't get on with your offspring's partner. Fortunately Sarah is a wonderful girl and we're all delighted.

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