Neil Warnock: Campbell's comeback at Arsenal has me wondering if I should dig out my boots

What I Learnt This Week
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I had to laugh when I read that Mark Cooper had taken his Peterborough squad to a training camp in Tenerife.

It's one thing Manchester United going to Dubai but you don't expect that. Then I remembered his dad (Terry, the renowned former Leeds United and England full-back) used to live there. I bet they're all stopping in his apartment, knowing Terry it'll be a big one. Still, we're getting some warmth on our backs too. I've told the lads I'm getting a heater for the training ground dressing room.

I'm only joking, things are never that bad, though it was disappointing having to sell Jose Fonte to Southampton last week. Their new owners are obviously giving it a go and £1m-plus was obviously a realistic figure for Jose, especially in the situation we are in at the moment. Jose said to me, "Gaffer, if you don't want me to go I won't." I said, "Jose, if you don't go, I won't be eating." To which we both smiled. I think he got the point.

With Jose going we've now been paid and I celebrated by cooking a fillet steak for Sharon after my practice run with Mick Jones last week. As we'd been paid we had a steak each instead of having to share one. I really enjoyed cooking, but didn't have so much wine this time, only a glass with each course. William was the waiter. I'll have to get him one of those moustaches, a Manuel one.

Getting back to the jetsetters, I can see why Mark, and Sir Alex, wanted to take their teams away. It's good sometimes to have a break, especially if things aren't going so well and I think Sir Alex knows United have not been at their best. Fortunately for him neither have Chelsea, and who knows with Arsenal? When I saw they were thinking of bringing back Sol Campbell I began to ponder getting my own boots out. I think Arsène Wenger's interest in Sol shows that top-class centre-halves are few and far between at the moment. I do hope Sol proves me wrong, but when I saw him at Portsmouth last year I did think he would struggle to get through another season in the Premier League. Still, Arsène's seen him in training every day for the last few months so you have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

2. A winter break would suit me just fine

For those of us left back here in the snow, it's been an interesting week. Like so many others, our game last weekend was postponed. It's a long time since I remember so many games being put off because of conditions around the ground and it did look like one or two decisions were a bit hasty, especially at West Ham. Maybe they were entertaining all their prospective buyers and didn't want to be disturbed by a game of football.

After our game was called off last week, I decided to fly down to Plymouth as Sharon had told me she couldn't get the car up the hill outside our house. We have a 4x4 so I thought she was joking, but when I got down there and had a go I could only get 15 yards up the hill. It was like a sheet of ice. The only way out was to ask a neighbour with a tractor to pull us up, and even he was sliding about all over the place.

The following day we had more snow and ended up all sledging for a couple of hours, that's pretty unusual at our place. Then we went into Plymouth for something to eat. I parked, walked over to the meter, and saw the time was 5.28pm. The meter clocked off at six and it was 50p for half-an-hour. Amy and I stood there waiting for two minutes to save us 50p. I said, "bloody hell, I hope there's no newspapers watching this." I suppose we've all been there – and don't forget, we had not been paid at this point.

We came back to London, and more snow. William's school closed and sent the kids home. So William rang and asked if I minded him going to a friend's house, a friend who had an indoor heated swimming pool. We didn't see him for four hours. The following morning, I was out in the garden, wearing pyjamas and wellies, breaking the ice in the bird bath and putting out some seeds. William asked me if I'd ever thought about becoming a scarecrow. I don't know whether it is the weather but the birds are certainly getting frisky. There were two or three blackbirds after Mrs Blackbird and the robins, normally so territorial, looked to be getting on all right.

On Thursday, I turned up at the training ground to find my coaching staff, Mick, Curly and Ronnie Jepson, with shovels in their hands clearing a patch for us to work on. I even asked the academy manager and his young lads to help out. I had to ask permission because we get reported now if YTS lads have to polish boots or wash cars, it's not in their job spec. You tell me how you impose discipline at any level if you can't have them doing things like that.

All the snow has, as usual, reignited talk about a winter break. I'm in favour of a fortnight off. I think it would freshen everybody up. I know you could get the wrong weeks but that's tough. I think everyone will get used to it very quickly. The body and brain need a rest.

3. Laws deserves his chance at Burnley

There's been more movement in my trade this week. Paul Hart's departure suggests QPR are putting a new slant on the idea of a 'manager of the month' , now it's a 'manager for the month'. Another vacancy's been filled with Brian Laws taking over at Burnley. I'm delighted for Brian. He's a great bloke and a good manager who deserves to be back in the game.

I don't suppose he could believe his luck after getting the sack at my old foes Sheffield Wednesday but who is to say he can't be successful? Just because you have a bad run at one particular club doesn't mean anything. You always learn from mistakes as a manager and I'm sure Brian will have thought a lot about his over the last few months and be far better for it.

I gather Burnley used a report which measured performance against resources and Brian scored highly. Given our results, and our financial situation, I'd like every chairman to do that. It would give me a real chance of a top job. Good luck to Brian. As I suspect Owen Coyle knew before he left, Burnley have it all to do to stay up.

Another job which might soon be filled is at Reading. After their fantastic performance at Anfield, one would imagine Brian McDermott will get the job full-time. From Rafa Benitez's point of view, one of the most disappointing things about the match, and the last few weeks, is that when he's not got Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard, Liverpool look average and that's not the Liverpool we know.

4. Plymouth still feels like home for me

This week sees me driving hundreds of miles for what I call a home game, with family and friends coming to the match at Argyle. With heavy rain forecast this morning I'm worried the match might be off. The pitch at Home Park has deteriorated badly over the last 12 months.

Actually, I wouldn't mind as it would give me an excuse to go back down there later in the season, but I do hope a decision is made early given the distance our fans have to travel. Last season it was called off late and many fans were already there, I remember meeting some. We flew down then but with the weather we came down by bus yesterday and trained in Plymouth – a long walk on the Hoe. If the players aren't fit at this time of year there's something wrong.

I then popped over to look at the house and found a bird flying around inside trying to get out. I enlisted some help but there were still some hairy moments before we got it to fly out of a window.

5. Here's hoping for snow... in South Africa

It is nice to see the captain of England's cricket team is true to his word. Andrew Strauss said he wouldn't play for a draw. And he hasn't. Since we can't rely on Graham Onions this time it looks as if we'll have to hope the bad weather in South Africa continues.

Comments