Neil Warnock: Crouch and England try hard but I much prefer the thrills of 'Die Hard'

What I've Learnt This Week
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The Independent Online

It's Wednesday night, I'm watching England, and I'm gradually dozing off. I saw Peter Crouch score, but after that I just couldn't get into it. I thought, "I can't waste my night on this", and started channel-flicking, as you do. I spotted Die Hard 4, starting at nine o'clock. What did I do? Yes, I turned over. I have to say, I really enjoyed watching Bruce Willis saving the world again.

No disrespect to Crouch, and it's not really his fault, but I don't enjoy it when we play him because, as he is so tall and a good header, team-mates end up lumping the ball at him. I just don't see that working against the top teams, only against the lower-ranked ones. If I had a choice, as good as Crouch's goals record is with England, if Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney are out I would go with Darren Bent and Michael Owen.

When Die Hard finished I turned back to be enthralled by Uruguay against Argentina. No, the game wasn't that great – as a football spectacle it was 10 times worse than England – but the enthralling bit was Diego Maradona performing on the bench. I couldn't take my eyes off him. Deep down I did want Argentina to qualify, just so I could see his celebrations at the end.

The other England match, against Ukraine, reminded me why I am always on to my centre-halves. I've noticed for a few months now that Rio Ferdinand is taking more chances and has become sloppy, he's reverted to how he was as a youngster when he always gave you a chance. Well, he'll definitely have to get out of that habit because this bloke Capello won't put up with it. It's almost as if it is too easy for Rio, but as I say to my centre-halves, "The most difficult thing about defending is doing the easy thing".

I prefer my centre-halves heading it and kicking it. Yes, at the higher level you have to play more, but I believe a lot of centre-halves want to look the part of a good player, rather than realise if they keep things basic they are being good players. Why be flash when it is not needed? The bloke I feel sorry for is Rob Green, the goalkeeper who tried to make up for Rio's mistake. I can't see him getting another shot.

Having said all that, I have a confession to make. I didn't watch the whole game on the computer because, as you know by now, I find it difficult merely to turn it on. I watched the highlights, but during the day I saw a local amateur game before watching Amy play hockey. Why? Amy told me her push-back, as they say in hockey, was 11 o'clock when in fact it was one o'clock. So I had two hours to pass. There were a couple of games on nearby. I thought, "Why not watch them?" I couldn't ring Amy to check her kick-off because my turning up was supposed to be a surprise for her. As it turned out, the surprise was on me. Amy won her game, then I took her and her friend Helouise out. We ended up having ice cream cornets. I can't resist chocolate chip.

2. Struggling at the bottom? Head for a nightclub

On Sunday I went to Notts County v Torquay, which brought back some memories, having managed both clubs. Amazingly, there are still a lot of people at County from when I was there more than 15 years ago, so it was good to see them. I also met Sven Goran Eriksson who's trying to take the club into the top flight, which is a similar ambition to when I was there and we went from Third Division to the First. There was a decent crowd, the stadium looked good, and for half an hour so did County. I thought they'd get a cricket score, they should have been five up. But Torquay's keeper, Michael Poke, was superb and County had a lapse which allowed Torquay to claw it back to 2-1. Once again football then proved everybody wrong as Torquay dominated the second half and got a deserved equaliser. It was still disappointing to hear Ian McParland dismissed the following day. He was a player under me at County and he always gave 100 per cent. I'm sure he'll be back.

Torquay were the club I went to after leaving Notts in 1993. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, having turned down a couple of top jobs, including Chelsea, to stay loyal to Notts, then found myself out of work. Everyone thought I was mad to go to Torquay. My closest mate said: "They'll be relegated out of the league, and you don't want that on your CV." But I thought, "To hell with it", and agreed to go for the rest of the season, 17 games. It had a major impact on my life because while I was down there I had a look around the area and found some places we loved. It's now the place I'll eventually retire to. I also got my faith back in football. I'd become disillusioned at what happened to me at Notts then found myself managing players on £100 a week who would go through a brick wall for me.

One of the first names on my team sheet then was a lad called Paul Trollope, who had limited ability but the biggest heart you could imagine. It gives me so much pride now to see him managing Bristol Rovers and doing really well with a less fashionable club. I'm sure Paul will have taken something from my time in charge – and not, how not to do it. We also had big Darren Moore, who later played in the Premier League for West Bromwich.

It was a good time. I remember early on telling them all to report outside this nightclub one night in their suits. When we arrived I said to them, "No one leaves before one o'clock, closing time. If you do you'll be fined a week's wages." It was one hell of a good night. I remember Kevin Hodges came up to me about 11 o'clock and said to me, "I have to tell you, gaffer, in a long career this is the first time I've ever been threatened with being fined for leaving a nightclub before closing time." The next match was against Plymouth Argyle in the Autoglass Trophy. We won, which started a mini revival that saw us safe.

3. I put Palace's hot streak down to a game of golf

I played golf this week, as I now do every week. I have to. After we lost 4-0 at home to Scunthorpe I had a game with Mick Jones, my assistant. We won the next game. So we played again, and we won again. It's now three wins and a draw since we started playing, so obviously this week we were back at Beckenham Place Park municipal golf course. John, the pro there, has given William and Sharon lessons and William's already just short of the green on a par four in two shots. He has a wonderful life ahead of him playing golf, but I'm unteachable. I play golf like a cricketer and it's a bit late in the day to learn a new way.

I only started because me and Sharon got into the habit of taking the dogs for a walk to the course, then sitting by the first tee with a cup of coffee and a biscuit. And I have seen people come to that first tee with gear like Tiger Woods, dressed like Jack Nicklaus, who put their club behind their shoulders and do all the stretches. They have drivers as big as you can imagine. They put the ball down... and they hit it 40 yards, sideways, on to the next fairway. It made me realise that I could have a game without showing myself up.

I want to thank John for a pair of golf shorts he's just got me. I've never seen Sharon laugh so much. They finish eight inches below my knees and have no shape at all.

4. Tip for restaurants: give service charge to your staff

I took Sharon to Covent Garden and was presented with a 12.5 per cent service charge. I asked the waitress if the staff received this and she said no. That does bug me. I should have asked for it to be deleted from the bill, but the management would probably have blamed the waitress.

5. Cardiff look like a club on verge of promotion

I'm looking forward to today's game at Cardiff. They have a brand new stadium and the club is geared for the Premier League. I reckon anyone who finishes above them will get automatic promotion. Having said that, I'll miss the atmosphere of Ninian Park. It's like when Derby County went to Pride Park. Nice stadium, but not a patch on the Baseball Ground for mood.

We'll be without Nick Carle after his round-the-world trip to play for Australia. He was due back at five last night. I can't blame him, how many lads have the chance to be in a World Cup squad? But he didn't even get a game. Still, like Sean Scannell, who didn't play for the Irish Under-21s, he can't get injured if he doesn't play.

6. Excuse me, Rafa, where's my thank you card?

I see I saved Rafael Benitez from a suspension. His lawyers used the fact that I'd not been punished for imitating a pair of glasses to the fourth official against Bristol City in his defence for doing the same after Liverpool lost at Spurs. I think it would have been unfair to do Rafa for that, but I am very disappointed he's not sent me a thank you card. I guess it's been delayed by the postal strikes.

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