Neil Warnock: How City win helped us beat Chelsea in our crazy derby
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 29 October 2011
I don't know which of the two scorelines was most unexpected last weekend, the one in the Manchester derby or that in our own derby against Chelsea.
It might be that one influenced the other because events at Old Trafford did my job for me when it came to relaxing our players.
There is a TV in the dressing room and at half-time our strength and conditioning coach, Carl Serrant, asked me if I wanted it turned off. I said, "Not really they are better off watching that than thinking about the game they are about to play." And they were, as they definitely didn't need reminding of the importance of a local derby we hadn't won in 16 years. It did go off at 3-1 when the lads went out for their warm-up but we found out the final score before we kicked off and it's true to say the whole dressing room was stunned – which for me was a lot better than being nervous about our game.
Good job too because it was an electric atmosphere. The noise when we came out was deafening and both sets of supporters kept it up all game. From the bench you couldn't shout any instructions because within 10 or 15 metres it was drowned out. I think one of the papers said there may have been only 18,000 but it sounded like 50,000.
Obviously we had worked on combating Chelsea in training, but no one could have forecast the way the game went which is what makes the Premier League the greatest in the world. We started off very well, then circumstances took over what with us getting the penalty then Chelsea's two sendings-off. It seemed unreal. Watching it from the bench it almost seemed like slow motion.
At half-time I wanted us to push on but we let them have the ball and their players are so good technically they kept it, even with nine men. While we had opportunities to finish the game off with four or five excellent breaks our final decisions were really poor and that gave Chelsea every encouragement. Only a good save by Paddy Kenny from Nicolas Anelka won us the game.
It reminded me of when I was at Sheffield United and we played Arsenal in the FA Cup at Highbury. We had a gameplan which was to be difficult to break down. Then Dennis Bergkamp got sent off in the first half. At the break I said, "Let's try and win it," and we opened up. I don't think we kicked a ball in the second half against 10 men, though we managed to force a replay with a penalty in the last minute.
That's how good these sides are and it was such an achievement to beat Chelsea, even in the circumstances, when you think where the club was 18 months ago – fighting relegation to League One. To beat one of the best sides in the world, and get your first home win in the Premier League, it's what dreams are made of. I waited around afterwards on the pitch and just took it in; it was amazing listening to the crowd. A lot of our fans had never seen a victory against Chelsea. There is quite a rivalry. We stopped at a garage on the way back to get a few things and the guy serving was a Chelsea fan. I tried to have a joke but soon realised it was no laughing matter as far as he was concerned.
Unfortunately it was all overshadowed by the incident the FA are investigating which is a pity as I feel the players deserve a pat on the back. As for the investigation, I'm sure you'll understand I cannot say anything while it is going on.
2. I love going to Spurs – but always lose there
The Manchester game reminded me of us conceding six at Fulham. Having conceded goals quickly what was needed was to put a foot on it and be disciplined, but we kept going forward and every time we lost the ball Fulham scored.
It was the same with United towards the end. At 3-1 down, desperate to do well for their fans, they kept going forward, and got punished like we had.
I have no doubt it'll never happen again in my lifetime but it just shows at the moment how Manchester City are. It was more or less a second string they played at Wolves in midweek and they scored five. So guess who our next home match is against ... yes, Manchester City next Saturday tea-time.
Before then we have the small obstacle of Spurs away tomorrow. When you look at the team Harry Redknapp has put together they have got to have a great chance of getting that fourth spot. Full credit to Daniel Levy for keeping Luka Modric. Everyone thought they would sell at the last minute as they did with Dimitar Berbatov. With the signings of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor they have definitely got the depth and they are so entertaining to watch.
As I've mentioned in the past, White Hart Lane is probably my favourite ground to go to even though I don't think I've ever got anything there. I remember going there with Notts County in the FA Cup in 1991. We took the lead with a wonderful Don O'Riordan 30-yard shot, then I witnessed Paul Gascoigne thump Paul Harding which should have been a red card, and I'm sure referee Peter Foakes saw it. Gascoigne gave Harding a black eye but instead of being in the dressing room having a shower he made the equaliser and scored a late winner. We were gutted, but you need that bit of luck in the cup, and Spurs ended up winning it.
3. Day Harry quit English game after facing me
It's funny, given how long Harry and I have been in the game, but we haven't come up against each other very often. I will remind him of one meeting though after the match and I'm sure he'll remember it. Back in September 1976, when I was playing for Aldershot, he played his one and only game for Brentford at the Recreation Ground. I'm sure he'll remember it vividly because had it not been for a one-off while coaching at Bournemouth six years later, it would have been his last game in English football. It was a fantastic 1-1 draw, but Harry was substituted. I can't recall if he was injured, but he must have looked at the Rec and thought, "That's enough for me."
Talking of the Recreation Ground it was great to see it full for the Manchester United Carling Cup game this week. It is wonderful the way they have revived the club since they went bust and had to start again in non-League; all credit to the board and their backers.
Michael Owen again made the most of a run-out to score. He gets stick from people saying he should have gone elsewhere to get games, and he's only staying at United for money, but he likes being at a great club. Like David Beckham he is a tremendous professional and never gives less than 100 per cent. I wish we had him, but we'd have to build some stables near the training ground for him to consider it.
4. It was a piece of cake to mark Shaun's birthday
We had a couple of presentations at the training ground on Tuesday. First, some of the unsung heroes at the club, people like the kit-man and IT expert, got some Championship winners' medals we had struck with permission from the Football League. It was great to recognise their part in our success.
Then it was cake time. As you can see, we had a birthday cake for Shaun Wright-Phillips with 30 candles on it. I was amazed he blew them all out with one puff – unfortunately it was before the picture was taken.
5. I had a wonderful time at Amit's Diwali party
On Wednesday I was invited to the house of Amit Bhatia, our vice-chairman, for Diwali. It was an amazing night. Everyone was so friendly. It's wonderful how different faiths have celebrations at different times of year. One or two had watched the Chelsea game – Amit must have filled half a stand with the number I met who'd been to the game. Amit told me he also had friends and family who watched it live in India. The chairman, Tony Fernandes, was in Malaysia watching it. It really is the most multinational league in the world.
The family missed out as they are in Cornwall for half-term but they've had some consolations. Will's been to see Tintin and Amy went to a concert by Jessie J with her friend Phoebe taking my seat.
6. 'The Four Year Plan' is superb – you must see it
Elsewhere in these pages you will see a feature on The Four Year Plan, a behind-the-scenes, warts-and-all, documentary about the last four years at QPR. I was lucky enough to see an advance copy and I must admit the whole family were glued to it. It is a must-watch. I can't wait for the premiere, to walk down that red carpet and see it on a big screen.
On Sunday morning a group of QPR fans will be walking from Loftus Road to the game at White Hart Lane, raising money for the QPR Down's Syndrome Tiger Cubs. It really is a fantastic cause. You can get more info on it at www.qprcommunitytrust.co.uk/
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