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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor