Neil Warnock: Fans, eh? One minute Arsène's an idiot – the next he's a hero
What I Learnt This Week
As you may have noticed, with being out of work, I've been doing a fair share of media work recently. I even had something lined up this weekend but Sharon said, "You can't do too much, people will get fed up with looking at you", so I had to decline diplomatically. Last Saturday I was at the ITV studios all day watching the FA Cup fourth-round games ahead of appearing on the highlights programme at night. It's a long day, but there are worse jobs than watching football match after football match. Besides, I had Gordon Strachan for company and his humour, and a lot of coffee, kept me going.
The matches started with my old club QPR against Chelsea. It did seem strange watching Rangers from afar, especially as our win over Chelsea earlier in the season was one of the highlights of my career. It was a surprisingly quiet game after all the build-up, with the result hinging on a disputed penalty. I did reflect that the decision would have cost me a few grand if I had have been there.
On Sunday I was at the Emirates for the Arsenal-Aston Villa game for ESPN. I was glad they warned me we'd be pitch-side, as it was absolutely freezing. What a good decision it was to put my long-johns on. I had my overcoat, a scarf done up, you name it, all topped off with a pair of old sheepskin gloves which I found at the bottom of the wardrobe.
I was just as relieved to see they'd moved the presentation desk to the home end. In the last round it was in front of the away fans and I gather the Leeds supporters' vocabulary in addressing Robbie Savage was a bit fruity. There was also a stray ball whacked towards them, allegedly by my former player Michael Brown, which missed Robbie but hit Martin Keown on the head.
Martin was on duty again on Sunday, so having swapped ends there were no stray shots sent our way by the players of his old club, and the supporters were well-behaved. They were not too pleased, though, with the first half. During the match we sit up in the stand and to get pitchside we have to walk down through the supporters. On the way down at half-time the fans were telling Martin to pull his boots on and get on the pitch. It was all doom and gloom with quite a number of "Wenger out" messages being passed on to us.
Watching the game as a neutral I had been surprised at how slow Arsenal's build-up had been, which allowed Villa to take charge. But half-time is when managers earn their money and Arsène must have said all the right things because Arsenal came out and played some blistering football to win the game. Lo and behold, when we went back down through the supporters for the post-match analysis, how opinions had changed. That sums football up really. One minute the manager's an idiot, the next he's an absolute hero.
2 Harry Redknapp must be football's bionic man
I had mixed feelings on transfer deadline day. It is an incredibly stressful day and when you are in the middle of it you feel you are going mad. You spend all day on the phone or in meetings trying to set things up and push deals over the line. So there was a sense of relief at not having to go through all that again. But when you are not involved you do miss it.
What made it even harder for the managers was having matches going on at the same time. I have to take my hat off to Harry Redknapp, what a bionic man he is. Despite spending all day in court he managed to bring in a couple of players, move on a few others, and be in the dugout to oversee Spurs' win against Wigan. I did have to smile when I saw the headlines the following day, I bet the sub-editors couldn't believe their luck when Bale scored. They must have been rubbing their hands again the following night when it looked as if QPR would win with a Warnock own goal at Villa Park, that would have prompted some great headlines – but Villa levelled.
It was an interesting couple of nights in the Premier League. I did feel sorry for Steve Kean again after his team played so well against Newcastle, but once again missed a penalty. Those last seven or eight games I was in charge at Loftus Road I kept thinking, "nothing else can go wrong here, surely". Unfortunately it did, so I hope Steve gets a bit more luck.
At the other end of the table momentum looks to be with Manchester United. You can sense that little bit of fear in Manchester City's play at the moment, especially away from home where hard-working sides will not let them play – as Everton proved. Now it's all eyes on United's game at AVB's Chelsea tomorrow, once they get past the handshake. It was the right decision not to do it at Loftus Road last week and I must say I do think the whole ritual has had its day. You shake hands with someone one minute then put an elbow in their face the next.
3 Leeds link not enough to spare me housework
Sharon's had me clearing the office out this week, a job I've been meaning to do for the best part of 18 months. I have boxes in there I haven't opened since I was at Sheffield United. It has been really hard to throw certain keepsakes away, and I have thousands of programmes, some right back to when I played. I'll have to find somewhere I can donate them to charity. As soon as I've left this world they'll be in the bin so they may as well be put to some use now.
Some old pictures have brought back some fantastic memories, in particular of my Scarborough days when we won the league. I've also had to bin about 100 videos because I wasn't too sure what was on them and I hadn't time to watch them. When I tell you some of them were Betamax, older readers will know just how ancient the videos were. I remember being told Betamax machines were the future. I wonder how many others fell for that.
My cleaning was interrupted on Tuesday when Simon Grayson lost his job at Leeds and a lot of newspapers started ringing me. Being out of work I guess I'm going to get mentioned whenever a job comes up for a few months. Unfortunately Sharon didn't allow me to use it as an excuse to stop clearing up.
4 A bit longer and I'll be a proper house-husband
I took Amy out to a restaurant this week. She seems to have grown up so quickly. When girls are 11 they act like 11-year-olds. At 13 they act like 20-year-olds. I watched her having a horse-riding lesson on Tuesday and while it scared the life out of me I do envy kids taking advantage of opportunities like that.
I really enjoyed watching her. She's started jumping now, though they are not big fences just yet. I suppose if they were my heart might be in my mouth a little bit more. I was the only parent there which suited me. I was able to quietly sip the flask of coffee I'd brought. Boy did I need it, it was about -4C.
William was supposed to be playing in a rugby tournament today but it's been called off. The pitch must be frozen solid. I suppose if I'm out of work much longer I'll be able to go to the coffee mornings with all the mums like a proper house-husband.
5 Hair-raising discovery made in Petersham
We've not heard from Braun about refills for Sharon's curling tongs but it doesn't matter now. We went into a little chemist in Petersham and said to the lady, "I don't suppose you have any refills for Braun curling tongs?" The pharmacist overheard us and he said there may be some in a bottom cupboard.
She opened it up and it was like an Aladdin's cave. We bought 20, every one in the cupboard. He even gave us a discount for old stock so they only cost £3 each. We are thinking of selling half of them at £30 a time on eBay and buying new tongs with the profits.
6 We must never forget that it's only a game
When, at 5pm today, you're cursing the manager, chairman and players after losing three points, spare a thought for all those in Egypt who have lost loved ones this week. It is hard to believe that can still happen at football matches. I know there are a lot of additional factors at play in Egypt, but it was still only a football match.
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