Neil Warnock: I loved the international break - it gave us the chance to take a bite out of the Big Apple
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 16 October 2010
Most managers don't like the international breaks, but I love them, they're a great chance for a break.
This time I had four days in New York with Sharon. I gave all the players the time off too. They've earned it and I figured they could also do with a complete break. With quite a few players on international duty we could not have done much anyway.
Our fitness guy wasn't sure we should let Fitz Hall have the time off. He's had an injury and it was thought he might need to do some more recovery work. So I called "One Size" in and asked him where he was planning to go. He said: "New York." I said: "How lucky. So am I. We can meet at 10.30 every morning in Central Park and I can put you through some fitness work." His face just dropped. Needless to say I had better things to do, but I expect he was a bit wary around town, knowing he could bump into me at any moment.
We did go to Central Park to have dinner in the boathouse, a must-do for anyone going over there. We also took in a show, Chicago, after which we got in a tricycle rickshaw and asked him to take us around Times Square. We pulled up and got a hot dog, the steam was coming through the subway grates, like we were on the set of one of those US TV shows.
It was a great break and when we started training again on Monday you could tell how refreshed the players were. I think it has done them the world of good and, hopefully, set us up for what is going to be a very hard six days. Today we entertain Norwich City, who are just below us, and we're expecting our biggest crowd of the season. On Monday we travel to Swansea to play them on Tuesday. We'll get back in the early hours of Wednesday, then travel west again on Thursday ahead of Friday night's game at Bristol City, which is live on Sky TV. I'll probably see more of the coach driver than the missus. It's a long week for fans as well, and an expensive one. We'll certainly appreciate those supporters who'll follow us down the M4 twice in three days.
2. England bored me so much I switched over to the Scots
It was back to normal for England on Tuesday night with a performance that was a great advertisement for the radio.
I found myself thinking, "It can't get worse", but it did. I even turned over to watch Scotland. I know what you're thinking, "Scotland?" But they were playing Spain. Scotland, and the game, had everything England should have had: passion, sharp passing, pressure, a fabulous atmosphere. They made a great comeback from 2-0 to 2-2, then all the good work was undone when Stephen McManus did his impression of a Sunday League player and allowed Llorente to score.
I kept switching back to see if there was any score from Wembley, but then, and when I watched the "highlights" later, it just bored me to death. Why were Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard allowed back in their own half to get the ball? At one stage five or six England players were in their own half with no Montenegro players around them. Rio Ferdinand is comfortable on the ball, let him bring it out. We would have been 40 yards further up the pitch. It does my head in.
The attack was as bad. Peter Crouch is great to change a game, but as much as he tries he's not one for starting with. If we are going to play Wayne Rooney we have got to shove him up top and get pace around him. I don't understand why Ashley Young and Adam Johnson were not allowed to roam about. I kept saying, "Please bring on Jack Wilshere and go 4-3-3." Montenegro had done their homework and were very comfortable against our system, but even when Fabio Capello made changes the system was the same.
I still don't think we'll have trouble qualifying, but Tuesday night showed we have got to have a Plan B. It's an ongoing problem, the same criticism was aimed at Sven and Steve McClaren.
3. Sven's the choice when you've used up local talent
Talking of Sven, I was thinking it was another bad day for young English managers when he went to Leicester, then realised Milan [Mandaric] has had most of the English ones, so he has to go abroad. I'm sure they will be happy together.
Sven should do OK. Leicester have some decent players. They are another of those clubs waiting to take off, so with the financial backing he is going to get who's to say they can't have another push and make the play-offs again?
I think the Championship will be a surprise to Sven at first, but good managers can manage at any level.
4. Allison should be recalled for his sense of style
I was very sad to hear of the death of an outstanding coach this week, Malcolm Allison. I know he had his critics but he provided so much entertainment as a manager and I loved his flamboyant style. In his company he always made you smile and he'll be missed.
5. Ryder victory left me just short of the full Monty
The big highlight before we went away was the Ryder Cup. I had to go back to Cornwall on the Sunday, so I travelled back on the Monday listening to it on the radio. As I got close to home I thought, "I've got to see the end of this," so I rang Sharon and asked her to tape it for me. The problem is, her memory goes blank sometimes when I ask her to do things like that, so after hearing Ricky Fowler come back to win those last three holes I rang again just to check she was recording it, but I couldn't get hold of her.
I belted home, left everything in the car and ran in the house. I put Sky on but I just couldn't get the channel to change. I was banging the floor with anger. I rushed back to the car just in time to hear the commentator say, "Europe have won back the Ryder Cup." Four days listening to it and I miss the winning moment.
When Sharon came back she just said to me, "Oh, I forgot, still, it's only a bit of sport." I could not begin to tell her how much that "bit of sport" had meant to so many people in the country, it would been lost on her. So I just sulked for half an hour.
I'm pleased for Colin Montgomerie, he's always been a Cinderella missing out on the big tournaments. This was his major.
6. Motown sound still reigns supreme with golden oldies
Before New York I went to see Michael Bublé in London. He was supported by a group called Naturally 7, seven blokes who didn't have an instrument between them, instead they made all the sounds with their mouths. One guy imitated a guitar, another one harmonica, there was someone on drums and so on. It was amazing.
In this job you often get people coming up to you and when I went to the bar I could tell a couple of guys wanted to talk. One asked how I was, and about the concert, then said, "Are you still working?" I thought, "He takes a lot of interest in my career," but I just said, "Yeah, I'm at QPR now." It reminded me of when I checked into a hotel a few years ago in Scotland and the guy said, "I know you... You're on telly... Football manager, isn't it? I've got it... Howard Wilkinson."
We had a young couple in front of us and at one point the frontman said, "Now we are going to do some Motown." The lad said to girlfriend, "Who's Motown?" It even made Sharon feel old. They'll still be playing Motown in 30 years' time, unlike all that headbanging my lads listen to before a game.
7. Liverpool's off-the-pitch ills no excuse for poor results
I'm looking forward to our show on TalkSport tomorrow. Our commentary game is Everton v Liverpool. I can't wait to see what happens. David Moyes' lads will be right up for it but Liverpool always seem to come up with something when they are not supposed to.
Some people have blamed Liverpool's results on the upheaval about the ownership. I don't buy that. Players might use it as an excuse, but it is only a problem when they are worried about getting paid, which isn't the case at Anfield.
8. Collins has no plans to abdicate from dynasty
And finally I'd like to pass on a line I read in New York. Joan Collins, 77, was asked whether the age difference between her and her 40-year-old husband worried her. Her answer was, "If he dies, he dies."
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