Neil Warnock: How did Mascherano's wife get the blame for Javier's decision to leave Liverpool?
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 28 August 2010
It doesn't seem so long ago Javier Mascherano was kissing the Liverpool shirt, now he doesn't want to wear it.
Players and their agents really are running the show at the moment. When I see his friend Lionel Messi being quoted defending him, saying, "Let him go because his wife is not happy, they have no friends and don't want to raise their children in England," it does not seem that far back that Liverpool paid £18m to get Mascherano out of the massive mess he had got into at West Ham. I bet his wife was happy then.
As for my transfers at QPR, they're are an ongoing situation. We're short of a couple of strikers at the minute, but hopefully we can bring some in before the window shuts on Tuesday. It looks like there will be a lot of business at the last minute, with some decent players bound to be left out when the Premier League clubs submit their squads of 25. Fingers crossed.
Today I'm concentrating on the Rams. We managed to stay undefeated last weekend but now face a tricky match away to Derby at Pride Park. I think it is a lovely stadium, though if I am honest I do miss the old Baseball Ground. That was a bit special with a great atmosphere, not unlike Loftus Road with the fans right on top of you. I don't think anybody misses the pitch, though.
There would be a lot more people in favour of artificial pitches if we still had surfaces like the old Baseball Ground. Looking back, you really appreciate how good the likes of Kevin Hector, Alan Hinton and John O'Hare were to play so well on that pitch.
2. Night I lorded it among some cricketing giants
With Sharon and the kids still away in Cornwall I ate out a few times this week. On Monday night I met Stuart Broad and his father, Chris, at a dinner held at Lord's to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease Association. Chris's wife Miche, Stuart's step-mum, died of MND last month. I was so excited meeting Stuart. I told him I was present on his greatest moment at The Oval last year when he took those five wickets against the Aussies. I got goosies down my back just talking to him about it. It is one of those afternoons I will always remember.
The dinner was in the Long Room. What a venue! I felt really nostalgic looking at the pictures and things. The food was magnificent, too. I sat next to Stuart's sister Gemma, who is an analyst with the England cricket team – quite a sporting family.
I felt like I was in that film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Stuart and Chris are tall enough, when I had a picture taken with them I was standing on tiptoe (I hope it is not obvious). Then Steven Finn came over who's even taller. It was the land of the giants. I couldn't help noticing just how well mannered and well behaved these young lads were.
3. As you get older, you learn to overlook players' weaknesses – especially Theo Walcott's
There was criticism once again for young Theo Walcott last weekend, even though he scored a hat-trick. Sometimes you have to look at players and focus on what they are good at, not worry so much about what they are not good at. OK, so Walcott is not the greatest crosser of the ball when he has time, but he has other attributes like pace and an eye for goal. I thought his hat-trick was of the highest standard. And he's still only 21.
We've got one in Adel Taarabt, who's a couple of months younger than Walcott. When I was a younger manager I might have worried about his weaknesses but now I think about the positives – the things he brings that are different, hard to find. Players like Adel and Walcott excite people, let them get on with it.
Another thought that struck me, watching the highlights last weekend, is what a good career Bolton's Kevin Davies has had. Every centre-half in the division knows he is in for a battle when Kevin gets up against them, yet Kevin never moans when he gets sorted out. I think he is one of a dying breed. I can't for one moment imagine him diving theatrically and feigning an injury. A lot of clubs will be hoping to sign someone like him before Tuesday, but few will.
4. Let's get technical – five officials is not the answer
If ever there was an argument for technology rather than having five officials it was shown this week. First at the Britannia Chris Foy, who's a top referee and could not have been in a better position than any extra official on the line, felt he couldn't award Stoke a "goal" against Spurs because he was not 100 per cent sure in his own mind that it had gone in. There were five officials at Tottenham's next game, in Europe, but none of them saw Jermain Defoe handle before the vital second goal.
Having said that, I was dead chuffed it was given. It was a great result, though I bet Harry [Redknapp] still thinks of that mad first 30 minutes in Switzerland and shudders. Now I think they will do well, those floodlit nights at White Hart Lane are great.
Villa were the only English team not to progress in Europe and I did feel sorry for Kevin MacDonald. He's a wonderful man but Villa's last two results mean the club will probably look elsewhere for their next manager. It could be a blessing. He has such respect in the job he does and enjoys his family life, it could all be for the best.
5. A silver lining for the family Warnock
The family have been having a sporty time of it in the West Country. William has been on a three-day golf coaching school at St Mellion and won the longest drive for a nine-year-old. Then on Tuesday Sharon and the kids went down the beach in late afternoon and stumbled across a family Olympics. Will immediately volunteered, but he was not impressed when he was told it was for his sister and mum too.
He was smiling by the end, though, as the Warnocks came second out of about a dozen families (Sharon said it was eight at first, but the field kept growing). One eyewitness told me, "Your family is very competitive", which did make me smile. When I asked her Sharon merely said, "We did get into the spirit of the Olympiads".
An event with a difference was triple jump. One did the hop, one the skip, one the jump. I can't see that happening at London 2012.
Sharon said there was a great turnout. It makes you think what you can get up to if you don't rely on television for entertainment.
6. It's not just the transfer window that has gone nuts
It has been another week of frustration, not so much in the transfer market, though that was bad enough, but in the garden, trying to keep the squirrels out of my bird-feeders. They are allegedly "squirrel-proof". Well, whoever invented them did not use my squirrels as guinea pigs.
Last week I bought a large "squirrel-proof" bird feeder, a clear plastic tube with a metal roof. I was soon proudly watching as the squirrel climbed on and around it trying, in vain, to get in. Or so I thought. After 10 minutes pushing his nose up at the metal roof cap he tilted it off and got in. I then had to go out. When I got back not only was the roof off, he had chewed the clear plastic tube down a good two inches.
Sharon told me to put some wire over the top and tie the roof down. That worked for a while. Then he chewed up the bracket the wire was attached to.
Meanwhile, a different squirrel has been attacking our other "squirrel-proof" feeder. The squirrel realised if he jumps on the feeder it sways, and nuts fall on the floor, then he goes down and picks them up.
The final straw was discovering some of them had chewed their way into our shed and were eating the nuts out of the bag – they must have done that when the dogs were away, though most of the squirrels round here are bigger than Donald and Percy.
Now I've moved the supply, and caked the feeders with Vicks VapoRub – another tip from Sharon. It seems to be working. As we go to press the little birds are again enjoying their seeds.
There has been some good news on the nature front. I saw my first nuthatch since we've been in London.
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