Neil Warnock: Fabio quitting stemmed from my 'Sliding Doors' moment
What I Learnt This Week
Remember that movie, Sliding Doors? It was about how the course of life can be shaped by seemingly minor events. In that case it revolved around Gwyneth Paltrow catching – or missing – a London tube train.
Similarly, if Tottenham had been able to agree a fee for Gary Cahill with Bolton at the start of this season, Fabio Capello and John Terry would still be England's manager and captain.
I'd better explain. Back in August, as the close of the transfer window was drawing near, I was trying to buy a centre-half for QPR with Anton Ferdinand and Sebastien Bassong two of the main targets. Bassong would have been a loan, which meant it was slightly easier to complete, but it hinged upon Spurs getting Cahill in, otherwise Harry Redknapp would have been a centre-half short.
As the days ticked by it looked as if Cahill was not moving so I began to focus on Anton. That paid off when Harry called me to say Cahill was not going to happen so we couldn't have Bassong. That was fine by me as I was pleased to get Anton. The rest is all headlines: Anton played against Chelsea in October; an incident occurred which led to Terry being charged; Terry lost the England captaincy once it became clear the case wouldn't be settled until after the Euros; and Fabio resigned.
I imagine Harry was really annoyed when he wasn't able to sign Cahill – but I bet he's happy at the way things worked out now!
I can't knock Capello for coming out and saying he was unhappy at the way things were done, because the FA should have handled it differently and kept him informed instead of doing it while he was in Italy. Knowing he was coming back, surely they could have hung on for a couple of days to make a decision which we all feel in England was an important one, though I'm not sure the Italians feel the armband is that important.
I was still surprised he went but not disappointed. I did an interview with BBC Five Live at about five to seven on Wednesday saying I hoped he went. The next thing I know the FA announces he has. I know some have said we're in chaos but I feel it is an opportunity. I wasn't looking forward to the finals. Make no mistake, we have some quality players – but there wasn't any sense of anticipation. Now they can get Harry in and we can really have a go.
Harry's head and shoulders above everyone else and just what we need. He has experience of dealing with these multi-millionaire players. He'll give them freedom to play within a team structure. And we'll be back to the old days when everyone wants to play, as there'll be humour in the dressing room. There won't be many boring games with him in charge. I can't wait to see the Euros now.
I was chuffed for Harry when I saw the result of the court case. Even knowing he's innocent, he's had to live with that for five years and yet he carried on doing his job so well. It must have cost £8m to bring that case, for less than £100,000 in allegedly unpaid tax.
Once he was cleared Harry became the only person for the England job and I'm sure, having spoken to him over the years, he'll feel it a great privilege to finish his career as national manager. We'll have to go cap in hand to Tottenham's chairman Daniel Levy and hope he'll do the country a favour. Daniel deserves compensation because he has contributed to what Harry has done at White Hart Lane, no more so than in the way he handled Luka Modric last summer. And yes, I do think Harry can do both jobs until the end of the season.
2. Chelsea need Terry to be the talker at the back
If you want to know why Fabio made such a fuss about John Terry you only had to watch Chelsea v Manchester United. I don't think Chelsea would have thrown away a three-goal lead if Terry had been fit to play.
United were fortunate with the second penalty after Danny Welbeck went down because these young lads know how to put their leg out and make sure there is contact. Adam Johnson was another example the day before – and what a guilty interview he gave afterwards when asked about the contact. But that third goal, Terry would have prevented – and I'm not talking about Javier Hernandez getting a free header. If Branislav Ivanovic had gone out to stop Ryan Giggs's cross as if his life depended on it, instead of ambling out and inviting Giggs to cross, then Chelsea would have won. If Terry had been on that pitch he would have been screaming at Ivanovic to close Giggs down, and that is the part you miss about Terry. Everyone knows he is not getting any quicker, but in the way he talks and rallies he is still a major part of the team.
You do need talkers and leaders at the back, which shows how well United are doing to hang in there despite losing Nemanja Vidic, who I think is the best centre-half in the country.
How about Arsenal? Less than a fortnight ago I was doing the FA Cup game against Aston Villa for ESPN and the fans were slaughtering Arsène. They have since scored 10 goals and conceded one. If I were Chelsea I would be concerned about them hitting this run. How many times in the past have Arsenal been written off and sneaked into the Champions League positions? And I do think they have more goals in the team than Chelsea. But they do need to keep Robin van Persie fit.
That is not, by the way, a dig at Fernando Torres. I thought he contributed a lot to Chelsea last week and one thing I like about him is that he is not hiding at all. He wants that ball every time, and that takes some guts with the criticism he is getting. I know people will say he's on 150 grand a week, or whatever it is, and so he should, but when he goes on the field he's not interested in money, only showing he can get back to the form of Liverpool days.
Manchester United are in the big game again this weekend, against Liverpool, and I just hope we can focus on the football and not the handshake. We should scrap the whole ritual. United are favourites but Liverpool have a habit of pulling out a result this year when people don't expect it. They will be delighted to have Luis Suarez back.
3. Best time to hit the ice cream? When it snows
What did we do in the snow last Sunday? We had an ice cream. It wasn't so much fun on Saturday night though, as I found myself caught in a snowstorm on the M4. The journey took hours and at one point I thought I would have to stop at a service station and spend the night there. My car is useless in those conditions so I decided to tag along to a lorry. When he went out to overtake I knew I had to go with him as if I didn't, and ended up stopping, I'd never start it again.
I finally made it to Richmond, and got stuck on a hill with my wheels spinning. Some guys helped me get it going again, which left me one last hill before home. It has traffic lights, so I had to wait for them to change and make a run at it.
The following day it all looked lovely, though, and Will and I built a snowman. Then we went into Richmond and, because it seemed the obvious thing to do, went to Gelateria Danieli, the best ice cream shop I have ever known (it's run by Italians, obviously). They must have 25 flavours. I had Christmas pudding flavour and rum and raisin flavours, Sharon pistachio, and Will chocolate brownie. I suppose it would have been nicer sitting in the sun by the green, but needs must, beggars can't be choosers, etc.
4. Ah, the delights of family life and dieting
On Monday I watched William having a golf lesson. It is amazing to see how easily kids of today pick things up. He actually swings a club like a golfer should. I used to swing it like a cricketer – but then, I played a lot of cricket as a boy and didn't pick up a club until I was in my twenties.
We're all going swimming today. We've not been for a while and I will have to get some new trunks. I had a shock on Tuesday when I took Sharon for afternoon tea at the Connaught – I thought I'd better get some credit in while I'm not working – and I inadvertently tried to put on the wrong jeans. I thought I must have been ill, as I had about three inches spare. "They're your old ones," said Sharon, "from before you dieted." I couldn't believe it.
Maybe I need to find that woman at the dry cleaners who over the last few years has let out nearly every pair of my trousers – and ask her to take them in again.
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