Neil Warnock: From Ken Bates to Flavio Briatore, Simon Jordan to Tony Fernandes... it’s been lively

Tan made me think about some of the owners I’ve worked under

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he is going into Cardiff City “with his eyes open”. He will need to, as however well he has done in Norway he won’t be ready for what he is about to have to deal with on a daily basis. This is the real start of his experience in management.

A lot of people are surprised he has taken the job because of Malky Mackay’s experience with Vincent Tan but if he waited for the perfect owner it could be a long wait. You want someone who will back you with cash, let you manage without interference, and provide support and counsel in the dark times. Believe you me, they are rare. But so, fortunately, are truly bad owners. Many will put Tan into that category but he backed Malky financially.

I’ve had more owner-chairmen than I can count and when I tell you they include Ken Bates, Flavio Briatore, Simon Jordan and Geoffrey Richmond you will appreciate it has been lively.

I learnt my most important lesson, however, with the very first one, Ken Marsden at Gainsborough Trinity. Ken wasn’t chairman, but he ran the club and had a reputation for interfering.

I signed a lad called Stewart Evans, who I knew from the wholesale fruit-and-veg market – I had a greengrocers’ shop at the time. He was 6ft-plenty and I chased him up and down dale until he signed. But he had a bad game when we went out of the FA Cup and Ken told me in the tunnel before the next game the board didn’t think Evans was good enough and they hoped he wouldn’t be playing. I knew if I didn’t stand my ground I’d never last two minutes in management so I said it would be my decision whether he played and he could go and tell the board that. Ninety minutes later Stewart had scored two goals and there was a Sheffield United scout in the boardroom offering the biggest fee the club had ever seen for him.

Flavio was reputed to want to pick the team at QPR and it looked that way in the film The Four Year Plan, but I didn’t find that. What he did try and do was get me to sign players he was being recommended by agents. I remember him giving me a list of Italians and the average age was 36. I told him they were well past their sell-by date. He didn’t like being rebuffed, but you have to be strong as a manager.

The other problem with Flavio was trying to get hold of him. He was very busy and often abroad. It was the same with Tony Fernandes. I would get messages from him in the middle of the night. Being new to football, Tony also took advice from too many people who were trying to manipulate him to make a buck. He admits he’d do things differently if he had the chance again, but it was an expensive lesson.

The other problem I had with Tony – like Malky with Tan – is that I wasn’t his choice, I was there when he bought the club. A new owner always wants his own man. You can’t really blame them, it is usually their money they are investing, after all. I experienced this as far back as Scarborough when Geoffrey Richmond bought the club. You may recall Geoffrey for his time at Bradford City, when he overreached himself. He was just as ambitious at Scarborough.

It was obvious to me he didn’t really want me – he was a Leeds fan and I think he wanted to bring in an ex-Leeds hero. But as I was winning games it was difficult to replace me and I was able to leave when I wanted to. He made life very difficult, with board meetings all over the show, trying to tell me who to play and who to sign – his son would come up with names of players from the Rothmans yearbook. Geoffrey had been very successful in business and wanted to make an impact in football. I didn’t make it easy for him, either, and we had some battles but we became good friends later on.

Dan McCauley at Plymouth is another I fell out with but made up with later on. He became envious of the publicity I received when we won promotion. Like Tan, according to reports, he felt he deserved more credit as he had bought the players, but the fact is the media want to talk to the manager, not the owner, especially back then. He turned the money tap off, I aired my grievance in the media and, as Malky found, there is only one winner when that happens. By the end we only communicated by fax and I found out he had sacked me from a third party.

An owner has every right to want the manager to keep him informed. At Notts County, Derek Pavis used to expect me to ring him every day; if I didn’t he’d ask if I’d been ill. It helps if they know what they are talking about and Simon Jordan was the most knowledgeable about football of my chairmen. If you let him he would dominate you, but I was experienced by the time I went to Crystal Palace and, though everyone thought we’d fall out, we got on well. He was also the best by a mile for providing psychological support. The motivator needs motivating too. Simon knew when I was down and would cheer me up.

Another wonderful chairman was Ben Robinson at Burton. He used to let me get on with it and it is no surprise that Nigel Clough, and now Gary Rowett, stayed loyal to the club as, unless a top Championship club comes in, there is not a better job.

And then there’s Ken Bates. I went to work for him as he’s good company and my son James, living near Leeds, whetted my appetite about what I could do at such a massive club. On reflection I should probably have waited for Wolves, who were taking their time replacing Mick McCarthy. They asked me to wait but Ken was very persuasive. I knew I needed to make a lot of changes but thought I could do it without a lot of money – when you work with Ken you have to realise that is the situation – but it was difficult as he was living in Monaco and trying to sell the club. I just wish I’d worked for him when we were both younger – that could have been fun. Not many people know it, but he’s a great storyteller.

Come off it, Brian – I left you a decent side at Leeds

I heard Brian McDermott on the radio taking issue with my comment that he only needed to “put the icing on the cake” when he took over from me at Leeds. I stand by it. The main thing lacking when I left was pace – because I had to sell Robert Snodgrass.

Brian’s had good money to spend, whereas I was forced to make a profit on transfers, but they still lack pace. Eight of the XI he picked at Forest last Sunday he inherited from me.

It’s sad, but Premier bosses could do without the Cup

I’m sad to say I think Paul Lambert is right that most Premier League managers could do without the FA Cup. There is so much cash in the top flight now it is all about getting into the top four, or staying in the Premier League, so managers field weakened teams in the Cup. It is a risk, as January is a notoriously bad month for the sack – it’s happened to me at least twice. Losing in the Cup means there’s one less competition to go for, it is embarrassing if it’s to a lesser team, and with the transfer window opening some owners think they’ll let someone else do the spending.

It is a shame, as the FA Cup was the pinnacle when I started. It still excites me as a fan and I’m looking forward to covering Derby County v Chelsea and Manchester United v Swansea City for BT Sport tomorrow. Fortunately, I’m in the studio. I’ve had a bug for a few days, which has kept me off talkSPORT, and wouldn’t want to be in the cold. I did get to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks at Looe, but from behind glass in the warm.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on