Neil Warnock: I have nothing but admiration for Clough Jnr, my fellow Burton boy

What I Learnt This Week
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The Independent Football

Today I hope to be sharing a glass with Nigel Clough after our match with Derby County to celebrate the arrival of a club we both managed, Burton Albion, into the Football League. They needed a point against Oxford last night in a game played after I wrote this column. It might be the chance to open the champagne which has been on ice waiting for us to win a match. I spent five years at Burton, Nigel 10, and seeing such a friendly club progress has been wonderful. They still have the same chairman, in Ben Robinson, as when I was there more than 20 years ago but have a lovely new ground.

I admire Nigel immensely. I know he had numerous opportunities to leave Burton but, probably remembering that his dad was away so much when he was a kid, waited for the right one for his family. Everybody is bound to compare him with his dad, but I gather he has his own way, and that is why he will be a success.

I hope that is a better prediction than I made of his playing career. I remember when I was manager at Burton watching him before he broke in to the Forest team. I said to Paul Evans, my assistant, "He's no good for us." He ended up playing for his country and moving for millions. That's been the story of my whole career regarding strikers.

I'll also be pleased to see Rob Hulse, who played for me in the Premier League at Sheffield United. I'll never forget the sickening challenge with Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge which put such a nice lad out for almost a year. It made me feel sick in my stomach and it's great to see him back.



2. Song is the unsung hero at the Emirates

On Wednesday, I went to the Emirates to enjoy a match without the pressures of management. I made sure to get there 15 minutes before kick-off to soak up the atmosphere as I'm always in the dressing room at that time. Just walking up to the ground was exciting, I kept my head down and was only spotted by two or three fans, and only one was loud. Then I sat back to watch Arsenal.

They didn't disappoint me but the fans, oh my! I was with a Palace fan and two Arsenal season-ticket holders. Early on, Theo Walcott dribbled the ball out and one of the Arsenal fans shouted: "He just ain't good enough, he tries but he's just not good enough." Within minutes Walcott scored with a finish the best in the world would be proud of. Now this chap is jumping up with euphoria.

Then there's Emmanuel Eboué. He made a great run then ballooned the ball somewhere and the guy said, "what do you think about him?" as if to suggest Eboué wasn't up to much. I said: "He'd get in our side."

The hero was the unsung Song. I thought he never put a foot wrong all night and must be first on a manager's sheet because everything that was broken up he was instrumental in. I didn't feel the same way about Emmanuel Adebayor. He was offside numerous times, never showed for team-mates when they needed an outlet, then, after the supporters said what a lazy so-and-so he was, he got the second goal with a sublime finish. But really any top striker would score goals in Arsenal's team, given the opportunities they create, and I would not be surprised – as Arsène Wenger has always had that knack of letting go of players at the right time – if he remembers the way Adebayor tried to put a gun to his head in the summer transfer window and sells him. I think the speculation contributed to Arsenal's poor start.

Robin van Persie got the third and the first supporter said: "He'll not be stopping if we don't win anything this season." To which the Palace fan retorted: "He can come with us, we could take him to the trophy cabinet and show him the Zenith Data Systems Cup we won in 1991."



3. Hard to recall what it was like pre-Hillsborough

The most compelling thing I watched this week was the Hillsborough memorial service. Coming from Sheffield, everyone knows someone who was involved that day, yet even now I find myself discovering new things about what happened. And when you hear about allegations of a police cover-up you wonder what else there is to come. I think everyone feels that, if it was our loved ones, wouldn't we continue with the fight for justice? Watching it, I was surprised to hear my kids William and Amy asking questions about what those fences were for. It is hard to remember what it was like.

In 1987, when I took Scarborough into the Football League we had to spend £200,000 we hadn't got on erecting those fences. It seemed stupid even then. Mind, our first game was against Wolves on a bank holiday weekend. Their fans were camping on the beach. The alcohol was flowing. I'll never forget how one supporter climbed on to the asbestos roof. He was chanting and jumping up and down, until he fell through. I thought he must have died but later found out he discharged himself from hospital later that night. Apparently, he landed on his head and that's what saved him.

Scarborough fell out of the league and went bust two years ago, which was a really sad day. But they've resurfaced as Scarborough Athletic and, though they are playing at Bridlington, they have won promotion from the Northern Counties East League First Division. Congratulations and let's hope the group of dedicated fans can continue their revival.



4. Check your facts before you slag me off

Our defender Claude Davis has been charged with violent conduct after his clash with Cardiff City's Roger Johnson. I still don't believe it was violent conduct. I believe he tried to stop the player making a run and was clumsy. But he will get a three-game ban.

I've a lot of time for Cardiff so I was disappointed to hear Dave Jones was saying how disgusted he was that Crystal Palace never even made a phone call to see how the lad was. It is a pity he does not have better communication with his own physio, who the next day was contacted by my physio on my instructions. I heard all the conversation about how Johnson's oesophagus had been damaged and he had been kept in a high-dependence ward overnight, but that they were optimistic he would be leaving shortly. I wish before people slag you off they would check the facts. We did care about Johnson .

Ironically, Cardiff asked to use our training ground next week before they play Charlton. The offer's still open. I wonder if they will take it up.



5. A small scar won't hurt our pretty boy Jules

It was Amy's birthday on Thursday and she had seven friends over. She's 11 now and so grown-up. She sounds really posh, nothing like me. William sussed it right by going out all day footballing, first at school then with our Under-eights. He'd been in goal and then told me all about his saves.

It was almost as bad as our defender Clint Hill going on about his great save he made when he stood in for Julian Speroni at Southampton on Monday, while Jules had stitches. Speroni was caught by what I thought was a naughty challenge. He had both hands on the ball when Andrew Surman slid in. Fortunately, a little scar won't affect Jules' looks. Only joking. Sharon says he's lovely-looking.

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