Neil Warnock: I had a surreal birthday: Joey was happy, Jay didn't moan and Des sang

What I Learnt This Week

I would never have imagined, a few years ago, that I would spend my birthday going out in London and being serenaded by Des O'Connor.

But that's what I did on Thursday, and while 63 may seem old to some of you, I felt very young watching Des who's 80 next month and still going strong. What a pro, he must really love entertaining.

Des was in Dreamboats and Petticoats, it's a musical about the early years of rock 'n' roll. It's a bit before my time – I'm hoping they'll do a Tamla Motown musical – but it was a really enjoyable night, up there with Jersey Boys. It's one of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright's, I'll have to drop him a line. I also liked the venue, the Playhouse.

Before the show we went to Covent Garden for a bite to eat, and ended up buying another CD from one of the young ladies who sing there. All the Christmas decorations were up, the smell of mulled wine was in the air, it was fabulous.

The day began when I was woken up by William, at five past seven, with a birthday cake all lit up which he had made with his mum. It was far better than anything you could buy, and I'm not saying that with an arm up my back. Fortunately there wasn't a candle for every year, there's no way I could have blown all of them out, and it might have set the smoke alarm off.

William's card said: "I love you Daddy ... even though you are a plonker!" Children never said things like that when I was young, I'd have got a clip round my lughole. Amy's card showed a lady with a gun in her hand and a big birthday cake. She was saying: "If you don't take some of them candles off my cake I'll kill you."

I went to training and it was probably one of the best days we've had. All sorts of strange things happened. Jay Bothroyd never moaned, Joey Barton was happy, Adel Taarabt did lots of running. Happily most of the Movember moustaches had come off. Thank goodness.

I took some of William's cake in for the staff, but then we had our flu jabs. All the players have one. They are not forced to but it makes sense in such a closed environment. I hate jabs, I'm such a coward I have to look away. So we had to clear the room of players, I didn't want them seeing me like that.

2. Crisis, now that Elvijs has left the building

What would I like for my birthday? A goalkeeper would be nice, but the Premier League won't let me have one. You'll probably know by now we had our first two goalies injured and asked to bring in an emergency loan. The League said we couldn't have one as we had other keepers on our books.

One of them is Radek Cerny, who has a long-standing injury which means he has only been able to play two reserve games this season. Then there's Elvijs Putnins, a 20-year-old Latvian who we released without playing a game. However, he's a good lad and he asked if he could see out his contract training with us. We agreed, and loaned him to Borehamwood where he's been playing in the Blue Square South. He's nowhere near ready for the top flight and neither is the other lad, a first-year pro. Imagine if Radek got injured, which is not unlikely given his fitness problems, and I had to put one of these kids in and they made a mistake which cost us the game. Never mind us losing three points, think of the devastating effect it would have on them with the coverage the league gets now.

3. Anton must raise his game against Baggies

I think Anton Ferdinand's form has dipped with all the furore over John Terry's alleged racist abuse of him, and I mentioned that to the press yesterday. I thought I'd said it before, in this column, but when they all pricked their ears up and looked interested I realised I hadn't. I hope today, against West Bromwich Albion, his level of performance gets back to what it was beforehand.

Anton will need to be in good form because I'm expecting a tough game today. I've a lot of time for Albion chairman Jeremy Peace and sporting director Dan Ashworth, the way they run the club is an excellent model for us to follow, steadily signing better players and establishing themselves in the Premier League without taking risks with the club. Afterwards we're having a party for my grandson's birthday. More cake.

4. It could be a blessing for Brucie to get boot

So we've had the first managerial casualty of the Premier League season and I bet all those people who bet on it being me when I was joint-favourite back in August are gutted. I hope they had a lot of money on.

There are such fine lines at this level. Injures, refereeing decisions, they all contribute. I keep thinking how lucky Newcastle are at having a back five that's not changed all season. That's utopia. If they can keep that going to the end of the season they'll be top six. When you look back at Steve Bruce and Sunderland it went wrong when he lost Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan. It doesn't matter how much money you get, it is very hard to replace players of this calibre. How many players can guarantee you goals at this level, as Bent does? It's not easy, look at Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll, two good players, they are not even regulars at their clubs now.

I was listening to a guy on a radio phone-in and he said Steve should have been able to talk them into staying. He's obviously not in the real world. Steve didn't have a cat in hell's chance of talking either player into staying with the contracts they'd been offered elsewhere.

With Steve's experience he'll not be long out of work and he might even be feeling a bit of relief. It's always disappointing to lose a job as a manager but sometimes you get in a situation where it can be a blessing. You very quickly find yourself looking forward to the next challenge.

5. Roll out the red carpet for heroes from Palace

I was delighted by Crystal Palace's fantastic result at Old Trafford as I've still got some very good friends who are Palace fans and they've not been given a lot to shout about in recent years. It was obviously a night to remember. One of my best mates, Justin, texted me yesterday to say he was just getting home. I guess it's a long way back when you've been over the moon. It wasn't just the win, it was the way Palace played. They deserved it. I certainly wouldn't have liked to be in United's dressing room at the end. I was so pleased for Darren Ambrose scoring that great goal and texted him to tell him so. He's a lovely lad who's not been a regular recently so it will have been very sweet. Now Palace and Cardiff, and their excellent young managers Dougie Freedman and Malky Mackay, each have a great opportunity to get to Wembley.

6. Speed death hit me as hard as when we lost Di

We'll be showing our respects before the match today to Gary Speed. Although I didn't know Gary very well, I've not been so shocked since Princess Diana died. I don't know how the players and staff of Swansea and Villa got through their game last Sunday. I don't know if I could have done it, and I wasn't even close to him. I was pleased nobody lost the match.

7. Will scores top try but trying times for Sharon

Will played a rugby tournament during the week and scored a great try as his team reached the semi-finals. He was shattered when he got home and so was Sharon. There were problems on the motorway and she took two and a half hours to go 29 miles. There are some drawbacks to living down here.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing