Neil Warnock: I know how Mark Hughes felt when the clock was ticking at Old Trafford

What I've Learnt This Week
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It's been another typical football week, full of surprises and controversies. Fortunately none of them involved me – "for a change", I hear you say – but I do know just how Mark Hughes felt as the clock kept ticking at Old Trafford last Sunday. I've been there, about to claim a great win away from home, and the ref just keeps finding time from somewhere.

Can you imagine it happening at the other end of the pitch? Do you think anyone in black in this country wouldn't have blown up earlier, and to hell with the substitutions and time-wasting, if Man City had been attacking and United hanging on? It would be a case of, "Get it over with quick, before we get shouted at!" I felt for Man City, they've brought some colour to the top flight this year and ruffled a few feathers, but I did have to smile when I got a text from one of the boys on Tuesday. It read, "Giggs has just scored, 5-3".

Having said all that, Micah Richards? Not so long ago he was playing for England. How he can position himself where he did in the 95th minute I'll never know. Still, all credit to Michael Owen for drifting off him, then taking the chance. Owen's an easy target for a lot of journalists but I personally think he and the likes of David Beckham have been super pros, and still are, who have given me personally a lot of enjoyable moments over the years. And how about Ryan Giggs? Not only was his pass for the winning goal exceptional, but his contribution gets better each time I see him.

I don't suppose Ben Foster enjoyed the game as much. The competition for England's goalkeeping place has never been as bad. I just can't see anyone other than David James. Don't see Rob Green, Foster, Paul Robinson, any of them coming through. There is a lad in the Championship at Watford, Scott Loach, who's one to watch. He's playing under-21s but the World Cup's obviously a bit early for him. We'll just have to play that well we don't need a keeper.

2. Craig Bellamy has plenty of skill – and a short fuse

We also had Craig Bellamy getting involved with a fan at Old Trafford. Though I'm not sure he'd have slapped him if the stewards had not been holding the guy. Bellers is pretty hyped up at the moment. I didn't realise how short a fuse he has until we played them a few weeks ago. We had an injured player and I was trying to get a sub on. He ran past us with the ball and I shouted "come on Craig, put it out". He just flipped completely. I said "calm down, I'm only joking", and I was. If I were Mark Hughes I'd definitely ban him from going back to Cardiff for a few months, but on the plus side, weren't they cracking goals he scored?

Another player in the news again was El Hadji Diouf. There's no way I can condone a lot of the things he has done through his career, but what is the ball boy doing slinging the ball at him like that? Give players a chance.

3. Alan Wiley's still got a blind spot over Liverpool

If I was playing against Liverpool I wouldn't want Alan Wiley refereeing. I think he's an excellent ref, I wish we had more like him, but he seems to have a blind spot where Liverpool are concerned.

After watching Liverpool play Leeds on Tuesday I was perplexed when Javier Mascherano escaped punishment for his swinging forearm. I gather Alan told the FA he didn't see it, but if he had he would not have sent Mascherano off. How on earth can he not send him off? These are questions managers need to ask because we need consistency with dangerous play.

Poor Leeds also had a legitimate goal wiped off, and then who made the winning goal, none other than Mascherano. It's sod's law.

I watched Alan earlier in the season referee Bolton v Liverpool. I thought Bolton were cruising but then he sends Sean Davis off for two innocuous bookings and Liverpool win.

It all took me back to when I was at Sheffield United and we played at Anfield in the semi-final of the League Cup. Chris Kirkland came out of his area and smothered the ball with his hands. It was a red card but he escaped. Alan told me after the keeper's momentum had took him out on the wet surface, but when I watched the replay there's no way whatsoever his momentum did it, it was just a deliberate foul.

I haven't got a problem with him reffing anyone other than Liverpool, but I'm looking forward to seeing Alan's next game between Liverpool and a bottom-half team.

4. League Two was never the right place for Sol

Sol Campbell. What can you say?! I suppose he should have gone to Christie Park, possibly Gigg Lane and a few others on a windswept rainy night, before committing himself. Then he would have said to himself, "Does a multi-millionaire need to be doing this at 35 when I have lost half a yard of pace?" The answer would be, "No, let's get back to the King's Road". I'm pleased in a way, because I don't think that League One and Two is the place for Sol. If he can get himself fitter than he is now by Christmas – he's obviously not fit now – I can see one or two Premier League clubs in dire straits giving him a call as a short-term gamble.

5. It's turning into a bit of a zoo round at our house

The happiest person this week was William. You guessed it, following our one-nil victory over Derby he got the chameleons I'd promised him the next time we won. So I found myself on Monday night picking up locusts and attempting to feed them to Hubbell and Babs. One jumped up at me and landed on my arm, I've never been so startled, I nearly jumped as high myself. We can also feed them crickets apparently, but we'll wait a bit for that. Have you heard the noise they make? I don't want crickets keeping me awake all night.

Hubbell and Babs? From "The Way We Were". And before you write in, I know Barbra Streisand's character was called Katie, but that just didn't sound right.

We are now waiting for Babs to go red, she's a horrible brown at the moment, as that means she's about to lay eggs. That's right, we're going to try and breed them. We also bought a Siamese fighting fish this week. It's beginning to be like a zoo at home.

An amateur psychologist would probably say I'm buying all these pets as our transfer embargo means I can't buy any players.

It's a good thing for Will we won last week. We're at West Brom today and having lost by four ourselves to Scunny, they then put five past Boro, he wouldn't have fancied his chances of getting his chameleon this week. They will fancy a cricket score against us, but that's what makes football such a great challenge.

6. Is X-Factor schedule clash Strictly necessary?

I'm sure I'm one of many thousands with a family who wish "X-Factor" and "Strictly" were on at different times. We watched "X-Factor" live. I came in, in a good mood after our win, to hear Scott singing "You raise me up". I didn't know he had Asperger's, I missed the introduction, and it still brought a lump to my throat.

Then we watched "Strictly". All the fuss there has been about Arlene Phillips being replaced as a judge by Alesha Dixon. I've nothing against Alesha, she's a good-looking girl, but I miss the class Arlene gave it. Maybe I'm biased, but what's wrong with 60-year-olds on the telly?

7. Amy and William have nearly all the answers

We were chatting with the kids, as you do, about planning for the future. Amy then said she'll have two children and a pug puppy; William pondered a while, then said, "I'll have three children". We said fair enough, but what dog? William replied: "I don't know. I'll have to ask the missus." We noticed he didn't intend to ask her how many kids she wanted.

Amy's celebrating this weekend, she's made the school hockey team.

8. Thrill of the chase is just too much for footballers

I had no idea we had so many cricket fans in the dressing room until they came in Thursday after having a day off. They'd obviously all heard about Gary Kirsten, the coach of India's cricket team, telling his players that sex is good for sportsmen. I've never seen so many bags under their eyes. It might give cricketers a lift but mine looked as if they'd been doing it all night. Maybe the problem was the one identified years ago by the Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof when he was in charge of Nigeria. "It's not the sex which tires out young players. It's the staying up all night looking for it."

Comments