Neil Warnock: Chelsea in the Cup ... just another case of Sod's Law
What I Learnt This Week
There we all were on Wednesday night, gathered in front of the TV waiting for the quarter-final draw of the Capital One Cup before going to bed. It was "coming right up", said the presenter.
We'd had extra-time from Stamford Bridge and the adverts, but then we had the studio chat with Dwight Yorke and Jamie Redknapp, then more adverts. Then Sir Alex was interviewed. Then I think there were more adverts until finally, more than 20 minutes after the Chelsea-Manchester United tie had finished, with the clock approaching 11pm and the kids almost asleep, they at last had the draw. I memorised some numbers. We were 4, Arsenal and Chelsea were 1 and 6, Bradford City 2. I quite fancied a Yorkshire derby.
Dwight Yorke pulled out a ball. "Number four."
Leeds at home. We all cheered.
Alan Smith pulled out a ball. "Number six."
Chelsea. We half-cheered. Great game, tie of the round, but a tough draw, we could not have had a harder one. When you look at the teams Chelsea have been putting out, it is obvious that Roberto Di Matteo wants to win the competition. My first thought was that our chairman, Ken Bates, would be delighted. I think we can assume, given his many years' involvement at Chelsea, that he won't be selling Leeds United to any one before 19 December.
I suppose it was Sod's Law that we drew Chelsea, after I was asked by a radio station to comment on allegations made by Chelsea about Mark Clattenburg and replied that I doubted any complaint would have been made if Chelsea had won, and if such a serious allegation proved to be spurious Chelsea should be charged by the FA. Mark had a bad few minutes when he sent Torres off but he is one of the best refs around and, like Alex Ferguson, I can't imagine him saying such a thing.
Come the match I can assure everyone I won't be playing a weakened team and I am sure we will give a good account. It will be great for the boys to measure themselves against players of Chelsea's quality. I'll be looking forward to meeting up with Victor Moses, who I thought played ever so well against Manchester United in midweek. I gave Victor his debut at Palace and I'm thrilled at the way he has progressed. It's fair to say Victor didn't use to do the muck-and-nettles part of the game, but on Wednesday he was battling back, chasing and tackling, He's always had the skill, but to make it at the top you need the whole package.
2. Amy calls the shots
I had to laugh when David Moyes' daughter said she was surprised her dad didn't nut Luis Suarez after his dive in front of the dug-outs in the Mersey derby. She took it back but it was too late. I thought it was brilliant.
The other manager's daughter in the headlines this week was my Amy, with several papers picking up on me saying that I'd promised to win the Capital One Cup this year, after Amy had asked me to "try" this time. It wasn't news to readers of The Independent: I revealed that conversation in this column at the start of the season when we played our first tie against Shrewsbury Town.
Amy is obviously taking a personal interest in our progress because on the way back from the Southampton game she said, "Dad, you are going to have to do something about your corner kicks, they were rubbish". I had to agree, but it did take me back. Not bad for a 14-year-old.
After a difficult couple of fixtures it was great to put on a good performance and having made changes it was good to see the lads come in and enjoy themselves, none more so than Luke Varney who had not been well with a stomach bug. The night didn't start well for him when he perpetrated the miss of the century. To put it into perspective: if you've not seen it he made Ronnie Rosenthal's famous miss look a difficult chance. All credit to the lad he then produced a man-of-the-match performance to help us progress to the last eight. I was tickled to hear the last time Leeds reached the quarter-finals they were knocked out by ... Sheffield United. Me, Michael Brown and Michael Tonge remember it vividly,
The family also came to the Birmingham City game at Elland Road, which didn't go so well for us. They sat in the stand and there were a group of lads behind using foul language from the start. After 20 minutes Sharon turned round and said, "Excuse me. I have two children with me. Do you mind toning down your language?" In fairness she said she never heard another word. I said to her, "You were brave, a lot of people wouldn't say anything". Maybe they took more notice as it came from a woman but it shows that, if we all work together, perhaps we can do something about the obscene chanting at games.
3. Time bomb
When we came in at half-time against Southampton and saw Reading were beating Arsenal 4-0, I thought Arsenal must have had a couple sent off. So you can imagine when we saw the score was 5-4 and the game was in extra-time we were stunned. But I can't imagine how I would have felt if I had been in the Reading dug-out and watched Arsenal score in 96th minute after the fourth official's board had signalled four minutes' injury-time. I know, it is a 'minimum', but refs never add more than 30 seconds to that unless there's substitutes or an injury. It has happened to me before and inside you are furious. And once Arsenal have levelled they go into extra-time absolutely flying, so it didn't surprise me at all that they won. I thought Brian McDermott did ever so well afterwards just to talk about the suicidal defending. I don't think I'd have been so restrained. But it was strange to hear him say he had a horrible feeling when Arsenal made it 4-1, He must have known what the defending was going to be like.
4. In support of Lees
We were all astonished at Leeds at the news that Serbian Police are going to charge Tom Lees following the Under-21 match there. Tom told me he did nothing but try to keep the peace and got a slap in the face for it. He said he feared for his safety. The club have promised Tom our full support. It will be interesting to know how this develops because I can't see how any of the English players can be held responsible.
5. Goldstone gold
It was my first visit to Brighton's new stadium last night. The supporters there have done a fantastic job and the Amex would grace the Premier League, but I did love playing at the old Goldstone Ground. I scored the best goal of my career there down the slope, so I had happy memories. I was playing for Rotherham and I picked up the ball on the halfway line and went on one of those runs from the right-wing before sending the keeper the wrong way. It must have looked fantastic, actually I just ran in a straight line and dropped my shoulder a few times. The defenders all seemed to fall to the ground and before I knew where I was the goalkeeper dived and I put the ball in the other corner.
6. Welcome to the fray
What a busy week in the Championship with four new managers appointed. A warm welcome to Dougie Freedman, Henning Berg, Sean Dyche and Mick McCarthy. They all have different levels of experience and are different types of managers. It shows that appointing a new manager is the most difficult decision directors have to make, and that clubs plump for difficult types depending on their circumstances and ambitions.
7. Heavy weather
I've never seen anything like the scenes of devastation in the United States. Looking at the pictures you feel for everyone over there. It struck home how big the storm was when they say it would have engulfed the whole of Western Europe. The weather does seem to have become increasingly wild and unpredictable in the last few years, no wonder the weather insurance market is booming.
8. Holding the fort
With the family here we went over to my eldest, James, and saw grandson Charlie go out for his first Halloween trick or treating. Unfortunately, Sharon and I had to stay home and look after the house, handing out sweets when there was a knock on the door. When they got back James told us that Charlie would just hold his hand out and say "treat".
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