Neil Warnock: How Cup knockout, M6 roadworks and FA alarm call make for a grim 24 hours

What I Learnt This Week

It was a miserable journey home from Villa Park on Wednesday night and not just because we were out of the FA Cup with only an unexpected relegation battle to look forward to.

It was also because some genius had decided that 10pm that night was the perfect time to start roadworks near the M6/M42 junction. Whoever it was obviously didn't check the football fixtures first because this was exactly the time 4,000 of our fans, and a few thousand more from Reading, were headed for that junction after FA Cup ties at West Bromwich and Aston Villa. It took us an-hour-and-three-quarters to go eight miles. We still hadn't got past Birmingham.

I felt for the fans, and for my players. Eight miles of three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, and when we finally got to the bit where we were all squeezed into one lane, we see two men walking – not working – and nothing else. It sums the country up, no one knows what anybody else is doing, and no one gives a damn about the poor old ordinary punter. Why couldn't they start at midnight? I guess those two men didn't want to miss out on their overtime.

We got back to the training ground at 3.35. Some of the lads then faced another hour's journey to get home. They'd be in bed at five, then woken up in many cases by the kids at seven. I gave them Thursday off to recover, then yesterday we travelled up to Doncaster. Any Doncaster fan or player reading this column must be relishing the prospect of facing us but although it's been a very difficult week we need to lift ourselves for a difficult fixture.

I will be at the Keepmoat Stadium, despite what you may have read in some places, but what the future holds I really don't know. The honest truth is there's a lot going on behind the scenes and I don't know what will happen.

2. My early-morning wake-up from sweet FA

There was more good news when I woke up after snatching a few hours sleep on Thursday morning, when my old friends at the Football Association got in touch to tell me I was being charged with improper conduct in relation to comments I made after the first match against Villa (you may recall their late equaliser came from a corner which should never have been awarded). Obviously I will be asking for a personal hearing so I can't comment further.

In the circumstances it was ironic – or should that be inevitable – that Villa's first goal on Wednesday came from a corner which should have been a goal-kick. The press asked me about it but having had time to shower and everything I was a bit calmer than after the first match and I just told them, "I think you got enough out of me last time. I'm disappointed a top official didn't see it but that's all I'm prepared to say."

I did ask Martin Atkinson, who I do think is one of the best refs in the country, at half time was he 100 per cent sure it was a corner? To which he replied, "I wouldn't have given it otherwise." However, he and his officials had scarpered by the time I got to the referee's room after the game to ask him how he would feel when he sees it on video.

I thought Martin got all three penalties right that he awarded, but I didn't understand why, when Alan Lee was pulled down as he prepared to pull the trigger, the defender did not even get a yellow card. It was a pretty clear goalscoring opportunity. I'm in full agreement that you don't want to see too many red cards, but when it's your defender who's guilty he always seems to go. It is this inconsistency which annoys managers.

There were some positives. It was a great effort by my lads against a cracking Villa side, our support was unbelievable, and it was wonderful seeing Nathaniel Clyne blossoming on the big stage. He was a little overawed by the crowd and stadium at first but up against Ashley Young he more than showed he can play at that level. I'm sure Palace will get their rewards for him turning down a cut-price deal before the transfer window closed.

3. Running the line was a harrowing experience

We've not been the only team getting the wrong end of a decision recently. Chelsea should have had a blatant penalty at Internazionale when Walter Samuel fouled Salomon Kalou. Samuel should have been sent off, but if the ref didn't think it was a pen, he must have thought Kalou dived, so why didn't he book him? But Kalou had already been booked and would have been sent off. It does worry you.

There's also been some major errors by linesmen. I do have some sympathy for them, having ran the line in an international competition. It was in the Seychelles when I was a young player. Bob Matthewson, the former League ref, was in charge of an Indian Ocean tournament and he was without a linesman. Knowing I was a qualified ref he asked me to help out. In one game the Seychelles were playing Reunion and late on they got a free-kick. This kid made a clever run and was obviously onside to me. He scored and all the defence questioned me but the goal stood and I thought no more of it. When the game ended I ran over to Bob only to see him sprinting towards me. "What's up?" I said. "Follow me," he shouted running past. I did, we sped down a tunnel and through some iron gates which a security guy quickly locked. Seconds later the Reunion team were lunging at the bars trying to reach me. Bob, with his experience, had sensed there'd be trouble.

Having run the line in those two games I realised how difficult it is to judge offside when a long ball is played as you are trying to watch the player on the ball and the runner at the same time. But there's no excuse for not noticing, as last week, that Jermain Defoe was offside when Gareth Bale crossed at Wigan because then everything was in the linesman's line of vision.

4. Handshake almost cost me Styles points

The picture all the photographers will want today is the handshake – or lack of one – between John Terry and Wayne Bridge. It looks as if Wayne is going to refuse and I can understand that. There are times when you can't forgive and forget. In a very different context I felt similarly about Rob Styles. He gave what I thought were criminal penalty decisions against the Sheffield United team I managed in the Premier League. Given the narrow margin we went down by, after which I left the club, he cost me my dream job, managing the Blades in the Premier League.

After I took over at Palace he was appointed to ref one of our games. When I went in the referee's room before the match he held his hand out but I said, "I'm sorry, Rob, but I can't be a hypocrite."

It's the only time I have not shaken a ref's hand before a game. I remember saying to the boys, "Sorry, lads, but I couldn't shake his hand, you won't be getting much today." We still got a draw.

I am disappointed Wayne's not going to play for England. For me he's a cracking player and with Ashley Cole out he's the obvious replacement even if his withdrawal does give my nephew, Stephen, a chance (only joking). I don't think anyone can make the decision other than Wayne, he knows how he feels and if he can cope with the situation. It's sad but you have to respect his decision.

5. Stone the crows, Sharon is into curling

While I was sitting on the M42 Sharon was watching the Winter Olympics... the men's curling... until half past one in the morning. When she told me I said, "Darling, how sad is that?"

6. William's dream card is out of our price range

William is into those Top Gear trading cards. I think they are a bit of a rip off, £1.50 for a pack of nine cards. There's one card he really wants so Sharon looked it up on the internet and someone wanted £20 for it on eBay. William thinks that's for the real car.

7. Palace's lack of security makes for a terrible time

I have a lot of sympathy for everyone at Portsmouth. I guess the points deduction is less of a blow to them as it looked as if they were going down anyway, whereas we've been catapulted from chasing promotion to fighting relegation, but it's still a desperate situation. The last few weeks have been the worst of my career, and I've been in this game a long time. It's not straightforward getting back on an even keel and there are a lot of casualties, it really leaves a nasty taste. The one positive is that, like Palace, they have a great set of fans. They are going to need them.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine