Neil Warnock: Beckham provides silver lining after Spain reign over England

What I Learnt This Week
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As Fabio Capello looks back on England's defeat against Spain I suspect he will be glad he didn't have his full team available. People can always use that as an excuse, though I don't think we would have got near the Spanish even with a first-choice line-up.

It made you realise how limited we are. The Spanish are so gifted technically and so comfortable in possession. They're not afraid to pass the ball to a colleague who's being marked. They're all such positive players, always trying to go forward.

England's recent competitive results show we're a good side, but I think we're still some way behind the very best, like Spain. They've been producing top-class players for years now and have really come together as a team.

What disappointed me most was the lack of passion from so many England players. Years ago you would die for the cause, even in a friendly. Now it seems that playing for your country doesn't mean so much.

Thankfully, you couldn't say that about David Beckham. I was delighted that he equalled Bobby Moore's 108 caps. Although he has his limitations as a player – I'm sure David himself would admit as much – he works hard and has a great attitude. He's got us out of so much trouble over the years.

I've always been a fan. At Sheffield United I remember asking Phil Jagielka, who had been called up to the Under-21s, to get Beckham to sign an England shirt for me. He signed it along with a "good luck for the rest of the season" message.



2. No surprise when the managerial axes fell

I wasn't surprised by the sackings of Luiz Felipe Scolari and Tony Adams. Watching Chelsea over the last couple of weeks, I couldn't see them going anywhere. Whatever sparkle they had seems to have gone. Roman Abramovich's friendship with Guus Hiddink must have made the decision easy. At that level you don't get rid of a manager mid-season and then trawl around for a successor.

I read that Abramovich consulted some of the players. To me, that's totally out of order. When chairmen need support it can be the easiest thing to go to the players. They probably hope the players will back them in their view – and will then use that as the reason for making a change.

I always thought Tony would hit the buffers at Portsmouth sooner rather than later. Succeeding Harry Redknapp, especially when you've lost two or three good players, wasn't easy, particularly when you've been part of the set-up. In those circumstances I think the players might need to hear a new voice and new ideas.

Tony's departure, following Paul Ince's at Blackburn, underlined the difficulties for young managers. They are clearly good coaches, but you also have to know when to take a player to one side, when to give them a lift or when to share a joke with them.

The League Managers Association has done a great job sorting out coaching qualifications, but what about man management? I told the LMA that I would be happy to have some young managers follow me for a week. Nobody has taken me up, which I find disappointing.



3. Life-and-death battles put game in perspective

I never did agree with Bill Shankly that football was more important than life and death. Right now I don't think football should be No 1 on Joe Kinnear's list. We all wish the Newcastle manager a speedy recovery from his heart problems, but there comes a time when you have to ask: is it worth it? Joe's predicament puts everything into perspective, as does the case of Richard Walden, who played alongside me at Aldershot in the 1970s. He was one of the game's most genuine players, even if he did ignore my advice by joining Sheffield Wednesday.

Eighteen months ago Richard was diagnosed with leukaemia. He's been fighting with all the spirit I would expect of him and I was delighted to support him at a fund-raising dinner this week. It was great to see so many former colleagues, but more than that it was an honour to help such a brave and decent man.



4. After the snow it will be raining fixtures

When Crystal Palace play at Plymouth on Tuesday – weather permitting – it will be 18 days since our last match and the first of eight in 26 days. Crazy. With today's match against Coventry postponed because of the FA Cup, I'll be out scouting possible loan signings.

Last Saturday we trained on a pitch that was covered in snow. We had a really good two-hour session, at the end of which the winning team picked two members of the losing side, who were given a forfeit. They had to stand on the goal-line, minus certain items of clothing, while the rest of the lads had three snowballs each to throw at them from 12 yards. If our strikers could hit the target in matches as well as they did with their snowballs we'd have won promotion already.

We trained this week at midday, giving the pitches time to thaw out. On one glorious morning I noticed a player wearing a pair of gloves. I told him he'd be fined £50 unless he took them off.



5. A music lesson – Amy takes after her mother

One of this week's highlights was going to a musical evening at Amy's school. Amy and a friend sang "Funny Honey" from Chicago. Amy is quite musical. Like her mother, she plays the piano. I love hearing it when they play, though I told William that the height of my own musical career was when I played the triangle.



6. My funny Valentine as William grows up fast

My suspicions were raised when William, who is seven, had his hair cut. They were confirmed when he asked me to post a Valentine's card for him. Don't kids grow up quickly these days?

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