Neil Warnock: Faurlin affair will be sorted by our legal team – I've got to focus on tricky Palace match
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 12 March 2011
You'll have read that we've been charged by the Football Association on seven counts relating to the signing, back in 2009, of our midfielder Ale Faurlin. You'll have read quite a lot else in some newspapers but I can tell you most of the articles fall into the category "never let the facts get in the way of a good story".
I can't go into any detail because the matter is sub judice, or whatever the phrase is, but having spoken to the barrister in charge of our legal team I think the situation is in good hands. They tell me they have it covered and I'm happy to leave it to them while I get on with managing the team.
The focus has to be on the football as we have a difficult derby today against a Crystal Palace team who will be buoyed by a great win over Cardiff in midweek. They've made good progress under Dougie Freedman who, being in his first job, I'm sure has really benefited from having Lennie Lawrence around to offer advice.
If it weren't for Palace and their fans I wouldn't be at QPR today. They gave me back my enthusiasm and I'll always be grateful for that. So I wish them well for the rest of the season – after today, of course.
2. Millwall referee had too much history at the New Den
This is our second derby in four days – though Millwall didn't feel very local after a two-hour drive back from the New Den to our training ground because of roadworks on the M4 and A4.
It wasn't a very happy journey as my reservations about the choice of referee proved well-founded. I think Steve Tanner is a cracking ref, one of the best, but I was somewhat dismayed the hierarchy put him in charge. Leading up to the game the local paper serving Millwall highlighted the fact that it was his first appearance at their ground in five years. On his last visit he disallowed what Millwall felt was a perfectly good goal against Sheffield Wednesday, who then rushed upfield to score the only goal of the game while Millwall's players were celebrating. The writer added: "I'm sure we'll give him a rousing reception."
Now I know he has to go back and ref a game at Millwall some time, but surely a highly charged derby is not the occasion. There must have been a less contentious match in the last five seasons he could have taken charge of. It was unfair to Steve because it put him under unnecessary pressure. In the circumstances it is human nature not to want to stir up an intimidating crowd early on so I wasn't at all surprised when Adel Taarabt was whacked in the first few minutes, and the culprit was not booked.
Then in the second half he gave Danny Shittu a red card "for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity" after Steve Morison was fouled in the box. But Morison was still able to put the ball in the back of the net so his goalscoring opportunity obviously was not denied. If only Steve had waited to see if an advantage had accrued – as he had done several times earlier in the game. As it was not only did we wrongly lose a player, Millwall would have been denied a goal if they had missed the penalty.
3. Busacca caught up in the headmaster complex
It wasn't a great week for referees. I think Massimo Busacca, who refereed the Arsenal game, is one of the best but I am sure even other referees thought it an injustice when he sent off Robin van Persie. You can't tell me you don't give a player the benefit of the doubt with 90,000 fans screaming their heads off. I thought the red card, and Busacca's attitude to Arsène Wenger at full-time, showed the worst aspect of some referees. They have an arrogance as if they are superior to anyone else on the field, the headmaster complex. Once refs get like that they are on the slippery slope.
One player who should have been sent off was Liverpool's Jamie Carragher last weekend. His tackle on Nani horrified me. Why? As a professional it is the deceitful tackles which are the worst and I wasn't surprised in the least that Nani had such a gashed leg. At the time I shouted "he'll be lucky if it's not broken". You almost have to watch in slow-motion to see how bad a tackle it is. No wonder Nani didn't want to see him after the game.
But one ref did make me smile: Peter Walton waving an imaginary card at Jordan Mutch in the Everton-Birmingham game after he realised he'd forgotten his yellow card. Obviously a good player to have on your team at charades.
4. Good luck, Chris. I know no one will fight harder
How sad to see one of my old players, Chris Armstrong, having to retire because he has multiple sclerosis, a cruel disease I know well because my mother had it, although there are many types and, encouragingly for Chris, medicine has moved on since then.
I can't speak highly enough of this young man, who I've known since he came to Bury as a teenager in 1999. I then signed him for Sheffield United. You couldn't meet a nicer lad, nor a braver one. At Sheffield he suffered a terrible knee injury and was offered a substantial sum of insurance money to retire. I thought he would never play again and was surprised he didn't take it. Instead he battled back, confounded the critics, was bought by Reading, and was their player of the season in 2008-09. A few months later he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and, though he has fought hard, he's had to accept he can't play on.
When people moan about this injury and that injury, dear me, I don't think anyone could have put up with more than Chris has. He'll continue to fight the disease with courage and everyone who knows Chris will wish him well.
5. Sharon and I get Lifted by the fabulous Family
It's been a good week for Will, who scored three tries. For the last one I watched him pick the ball up in his own half, he broke forward and dropped his shoulder to go past three tackles. Two more lads come toward him and he goes between them to dive over the line; by which time I'm hysterical. Between celebrating I wondered why it is, when I watch the under-10s, the opposition always has a player who looks six foot and 21 years old. They must eat their veg more down here than up north.
On Thursday I took Sharon to the Apollo to watch the Lighthouse Family. It was a fabulous atmosphere. Within five minutes of sitting down we were on our feet, you had to get up to see the stage as everyone was dancing. The jumping in the aisles made my behaviour in the dugout look mild-mannered, I've never seen so many crazy dancers. People have no idea how foolish they can look when they're having a good time.
6. Harry makes history, Bendtner's touch falls short
Who'd have thought we'd be raving about Tottenham getting a clean sheet? I do hope they don't get Barcelona now because against anyone else they've got a chance. It's a great achievement for Harry Redknapp to be the first English manager to make the last eight of the Champions League, another feather in his cap for the England job.
As well as Barcelona played, and as dominant as they were, if Nicklas Bendtner's first touch had been spot on Arsenal would be in the quarter-finals. Little things can make such a big difference, as will be the case in all divisions in the next few weeks.
Compared to the Champions League, the Europa League doesn't tick any boxes for me. To judge from Thursday the same applies to some of the players – Mario Balotelli's antics make Taarabt's occasional sulks at our place look small beer.
This weekend it's the FA Cup and I'm hoping to get my duties done after today's game in time to see the second half of Arsenal's game at Old Trafford. I doubt if either side will field a full-strength team, though both will be nearer first-choice than Birmingham today. They have a cup in the bag already, now they have to secure their Premier League place. It wouldn't surprise me if owner Carson Yeung pulls a shirt on.
7. Dave's fate at Rovers really was a Penney dreadful
I couldn't believe this week's sacking of Dave Penney after 13 games at Bristol Rovers. I suppose the directors will think they made the right decision as they then beat Tranmere, but 13 games? What can you do in 13 games?
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