Neil Warnock: Here's hoping this is the closest I'll come to getting fired this season
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 17 January 2009
1. I'll risk a cannonball run while we're winning
I guess some managers would have been a bit wary of posing for the photograph that accompanies this column. I can see the headline already: "Warnock to be fired".
Hopefully, with my Crystal Palace team having lost one in 11 matches, a run that has us sitting just behind the play-off places and through to the next round of the FA Cup, that won't happen just yet. But it wouldn't be unusual for a Championship manager to feel insecure. Glenn Roeder was the sixth manager in this division to be fired this season; that's a quarter of us and we're only in mid-January.
There's a lot of clubs with big expectations, and a lot with financial concerns. Clubs come down with big wage bills and if they don't get back up within the two seasons of parachute money it can get tricky. So Wolves, for example, will be under less pressure than Birmingham. My old club, Sheffield United, came down the year before with Watford and Charlton. Only the Blades are top half, the others have both sacked the manager.
I know Phil Scolari has been feeling under pressure, you could tell that by the way he put his head in his hands when Southend scored in the FA Cup replay, but if he is under stress I bet his bank manager is laughing his head off at the prospect of him getting the push. Chelsea are just off the top so I don't see why he's under such pressure.
2. Don't underestimate the fans' dedication
We were on the seafront because of a phone call I got at half-eight last Saturday telling me our game at Plymouth was off. The local press rang and asked me for a quote about how disappointed I was. I said, "Not really, it means I can have another four days down here when the game is rearranged for a Tuesday night".
The lads had flown down the Friday night. We didn't want to wait all day for the flight back so I got them on the bus back to London, then had a day out with the family on Plymouth Hoe. It's where Sir Francis Drake was playing bowls when the Spanish Armada came by. As every schoolboy knows, he finished the game, then chased the Armada away.
It's a beautiful part of the country. We had lunch at the yacht club on the front and the views across the Hoe are amazing. It was interesting that in the two hours we walked we bumped into three couples who were Palace fans, who had come down for a few days. It shows how dedicated fans are. One was a retired couple who had spent a week there.
While we were sat on these cannons, overlooking the Sound, I turned to Sharon to give her a kiss. William, who was just below me, said, "Dad, you shouldn't be doing that in public".
William had a game of football on Monday and scored the winner in a 3-2 victory. Just like his dad he talked me through it. You can always make them sound better but maybe it was as good as he claimed. One of the mothers told me he "were like a hot knife cutting through butter".
3. If I had £100m I would make a case for defence
If I were Mark Hughes I don't think I'd make spending £100m on Kaka my priority, I'd be offering £15m for John Terry and £40m for Rio Ferdinand. Kaka is a good player and I don't think money means that much to him, but it could be a situation where neither he, nor Milan, can turn it down. Money doesn't necessarily mean you will be successful – though Jack Walker's Blackburn and Abramovich's Chelsea showed it doesn't half help.
4. You always need to recharge your batteries
You may recall the family bought me a scooter at Christmas to help me get around the park. Amy's doing a cross-country run in a couple of weeks so I said I'd go with her on a practice run. We set off at dusk. Sharon said she had charged the scooter up but, after about a mile, it suddenly went click, click, click. The battery had gone. So instead of relaxing my hip I've had to push this flaming heavy bike a mile back home, cursing Sharon all the way. I came home limping like an old man with my hip. I'll have to take over the battery-charging.
5. It'll be white hot when Pompey visit the Lane
I expect it will be a lively atmosphere at White Hart Lane tomorrow. Harry Redknapp's old club Portsmouth are in town and their fans are the loudest in the country even when they haven't got something to shout about. They never shut up. That drummer, and the Pompey Chimes, it drives you mad.
I enjoy going back to my old clubs. Last year going back to Bramall Lane was wonderful. I had all four sides of the ground singing my name. It was probably the most emotional time I've ever had as a manager. Most receptions aren't like that but it always adds a little bit more spice. You're a bit more nervous and there's more adrenalin. Your mood transmits to the team. They know it is more than just letting the manager down if they do not perform. They know they'll be in for training at 7am the following week.
If Spurs win they will go above Portsmouth, so it is a big game for Redknapp and his successor, Tony Adams. I'm sure there will be a few players in the Portsmouth team wanting to show Harry how good they are, most of them crossing their fingers to see if they can get a move.
6. Skilful players need help from the referee
We play Ipswich today. I bet Jim Magilton was hoping Leicester had taken us to extra time and penalties on Wednesday. That's what I want every time we play a team involved in a midweek cup tie. I was glad to come through on Wednesday. We'd shut one side of the ground and it was a strange atmosphere. I felt the lads did a decent performance in the circumstances.
The only disappointment was Victor Moses having to come off in the first half. He'd taken a series of kicks from different defenders, which makes it difficult for the ref to get his book out. I don't know if he was being targeted but if I was the opposition manager that is the sort of instruction I'd be giving, especially as it seems to me that more tackling from behind is being allowed this season.
Skilful players need protection. I know Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't help himself with the way he goes down so easily, but sometimes he has been genuinely fouled.
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