Neil Warnock: Depleted Leeds against in-form Nottingham Forest? I could do with our past masters

What I Learnt This Week

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The Independent Football

Someone said to me this week if we only concede six goals today it will show we are making progress. I think they meant it tongue-in-cheek, but we are playing Nottingham Forest, who beat us 7-3 at Elland Road last season. Since then they have spent millions under their new owners and Sean O'Driscoll has put together a cracking side which is unbeaten this season. Meanwhile, we have lost four of our best players, including star striker Ross McCormack, who could be out until Christmas.

It doesn't sound very promising, does it? But one of the reasons I have been in football so long is that I love challenges like this. Besides, when you see the news, what with Hillsborough and the terrible death of the two lady police constables in Manchester, it makes you realise how lucky we are to get paid for playing and managing in this wonderful game.

Any manager will tell you it is always the better players that get injured. McCormack, who had an operation yesterday, is obviously a major blow, especially coming after losing Adam Drury, Paul Green and David Norris. We also have a few more doubtful after the Hull match in midweek so it's all hands on deck.

When I was a younger manager I wouldn't be able to sleep at night with losing players through injury or suspension, but as you get older you realise that these things happen and hope someone else grabs the opportunity.

With all these injuries it has not gone unnoticed that the takeover of the club is an ongoing saga, but I am hoping a conclusion will be forthcoming soon and we can strengthen the squad to give us a chance of moving up the table.

While today's game pits two big names against each other, Tuesday's televised Capital One Cup tie against Everton will bring back even more memories of the glory days for our fans, who I am sure are relishing the occasion. It will be nice to see Phil Jagielka, who played for me at Sheffield United, but I hope he doesn't have too good a game.

I usually rest a few in this competition but there is no selection dilemma this time: I'll be picking everyone who is fit.

2 Let's hope fans at Anfield behave

All eyes and ears will be on Anfield tomorrow with it being the first home match since the shocking report on police negligence at Hillsborough was released. Like everyone else in football I really do hope both clubs can avoid the horrendous chants of the last few years.

Of course, it is not just "fans" of Liverpool and Manchester United who are guilty of offensive chants. This reprehensible behaviour is far too common and I'm not afraid to admit that a minority of Leeds fans have been among the guilty in the past. I'd like to hope, in recognition of the suffering the Hillsborough fans and families have endured over the last 23 years, that a new mood arises and the ordinary supporters of all clubs will show how much it disgusts people. I know it is not easy to confront someone who is six foot six and built like a brick outhouse, but wouldn't it be brilliant if you could take the kids to a match without hearing obscene chants? The racist chants have gone from our game, though events at Tottenham showed there is still much to be done overseas, so it is possible.

As for the match, I think it is the type of game Liverpool will lift themselves for, but the bookies will still make Manchester United favourites. Like ourselves today, when you are the underdog, and at home, you get a lift and know you have a chance no matter how good the opposition. And listening to The Kop singing "You'll never walk alone" should inspire anyone. As a manager, even of a visiting team, it is the most amazing feeling.

3 Bould shows the power of old pros

Tomorrow's other big game at Manchester City should produce some cracking football. Once you would expect Arsenal to have more of the ball but lose 2-1 from two set pieces, but that might be a thing of the past. Though Arsène says nothing has changed since Steve Bould came on the scene I do believe they are defending a lot better as a group.

I could do with Steve Bould myself for a couple of days after the goals we have been conceding, Norman Hunter must be shaking his head in the press box. How much would he be worth now? Norman's one of several ex-players who come to Elland Road: I've seen Paul Reaney, Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer and John McClelland as well as Norman. Mick Jones – not my assistant but the striker who broke his arm in the 1972 FA Cup final – and Allan Clarke also pop in. What great players they were. Any more injuries and I might ask one or two to come out of retirement. Ex-pros from that era often show the effects of their playing days but they all still look pretty fit. However, I bet the poor buggers they kicked are carrying a limp or two.

4 Key's Kent made T20 such an event for me

I do like Twenty20 cricket. I started watching it at Beckenham as Kent played a stone's throw from Palace's training ground. It was a real carnival atmosphere and I was surprised at how exciting it was for the kids with all the razzmatazz and music. It was really enjoyable. Rob Key hit the ball like I've never seen. He must have lost about three of them. I didn't think anyone could hit it as far as that. I don't think I could have played for the visitors, Middlesex, though. They wore pink shirts and it didn't seem quite right.

I'll be watching the World Twenty20 games. I find it relaxing, especially being on my own at the minute. From a selfish point of view I am disappointed Kevin Pietersen is not there, even though he has only got himself to blame. I think he has realised the error of his ways and I don't think it will be long now before he returns, as Alastair Cook knows to be successful you must have your best players.

5 TV and kids keep me sane after defeat

I'm delighted Downton Abbey has re-started and I have really enjoyed a similar period drama, Parade's End, on BBC2. It does cheer me up watching these programmes, even if there are so many advertisements in Downton I find the only way to watch is with Sky+ and flick through the ad breaks.

Children are even better for taking your mind off things. On Wednesday, after Tuesday's defeat by Hull, I didn't really want to get out of the house but my eldest, James, came round to drag me out. I had a meal at their house and Charlie, my grandson, was there. Don't children grow up quickly? It is great to see them showing off.

Charlie counted the steps on the staircase from one to 10 for his grandad. We didn't half jump up and give it the high five. And all after having chicken pox over the last couple of weeks. When I sneeze I think I have the flu, like all blokes do, whereas women and kids just shrug off sickness.

On the home front, Sharon didn't realise how much poo chickens do. Nellie, Peggy, Betty and the others must have the cleanest henhouse in the county, as she hoses it down every day. I can't see that lasting.

The bonus from having chickens is that I have always wanted alpacas and at last Sharon has agreed to let me have one when I pack in. They are a good deterrent to foxes. They look such characters, and the one I like is just two weeks old.

With them in situ, a couple of ducks around the pond, Elvis the chameleon and the dogs, all I need is to make an ark. With the rain we have had in Cornwall over the last few months Neil's Ark would come in very handy indeed.