Neil Warnock: I treated Sharon to a romantic Moroccan mini-break of snakes, souks – and two football games

What I learnt This Week

I made the most of the international break with an express trip to Marrakesh last weekend. While I told Sharon it was a holiday, it was a working one for me, as she found out when we arrived and I told her I was going to watch Morocco's Olympic team play on the Saturday, and the senior team, which Adel Taarabt plays for, on the Sunday. At least that was on the TV as they were playing away, in Algeria.

That was a shame, it looked an incredible atmosphere and I'd love to have been there. Adel explained to me they were big, big rivals, it was like the India v Pakistan cricket match. Morocco lost to a soft penalty after five minutes, a handball given by the linesman after the ref had waved play on.

Watching that game made me realise how good refs are in our country, and how well-behaved our players are. I've never seen so much diving and theatricals. I said to Sharon I could never have managed that team day in, day out; Adel's more than enough to deal with. Morocco were unlucky to lose but I still think they can qualify for the African Nations Cup. However, from a personal point of view, losing Adel for five weeks next January-February might not be so good for QPR so maybe it was the right result for us, if not for Adel.

There's been a lot of investment in Moroccan football and I can see them becoming a power again. The King has built a stunning brand-new 50,000-seat stadium in Marrakesh, but unfortunately most of them were empty on Saturday. Morocco won (2-0 against Mozambique) and when I spoke to their manager afterwards – Pim Verbeek, the Dutchman who took Australia to the last World Cup – I was a bit put out when he said he could call up Taarbs for the Olympics. Then I thought, "why worry about summer 2012 when I'm a football manager? That's miles off."

We did have time for some sight-seeing, wandering round the square and through the souks. We saw all the snake-charmers with their cobras. I was a bit disappointed no one offered to swap Sharon for a camel, though she wasn't. I think it was her dark hair – I'm told blondes are more popular. We bought a few things including a magical box for the kids; there's a secret key which involves solving a puzzle. When I tried to buy it I realised all those years negotiating transfer fees had stood me in good stead. I got him down from 600 dirham to 300. Mind you, I thought afterwards he would probably have taken 150.

I have to say thanks to Adel, it was his suggestion we go. Talking of him when I met Stan Bowles on Thursday (see above) he said he loves watching Adel play, which was praise indeed from such a club legend. I told him I thought it was because of the club's tradition of entertainers like him, Rodney Marsh and Tony Currie that the fans have so taken to Adel.



2. International teams should take more care of players

The only downside to watching Taarbs play on TV is every time he goes down I worry he's injured. That's the worst thing about international weeks and I do feel for my old mate Mick McCarthy. When his Wolves are scrapping for their lives to stay in the Premier League I can't begin to imagine how bad he must have felt seeing Kevin Doyle coming off with an injury that could finish his season. I have always encouraged players to play for their country, but there is always that worry.

Even if players do not get injured there can be problems. We had Heidar Helguson going to Cyprus to play a friendly for Iceland. Straight after the game we put him on a plane to Iceland, then he had to come back to London. By the time he got home he was as sore and stiff as could be. Then we found out that some Icelandic officials had got a plane back to England to watch their U21s play. Helguson could have been on that plane and been a lot fresher. As always no one gave it a thought.

That is how managers get disappointed. When international teams don't look after players you are bound to feel a bit bitter. We are so glad we're not playing until Monday as it took us best part of four days to get him moving freely.



3. Parker and Wilshere prove me right in England's colours

I bet Fabio enjoyed international week. Three points against Wales followed by one of the best friendlies I've seen England play. I thought it gave everybody in the country, including Capello, insight into what we have beyond his trusted core. He's struck lucky because some of these players have come to the fore by default, and grabbed their chance.

Or maybe he's been reading because I was first to say Scott Parker should be a key player – I'd make him captain, and months ago I said Wilshere should be a regular. Now it should be Parker, Wilshere, and either Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard as the extra midfielder. Not that they are certain of a place. I'd love to see Rooney in the hole where we play Taarbs. That would leave no room for those two as the wide men should be permed from Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and Matt Jarvis. At centre-forward I'd play Darren Bent because of his mobility even though he's not as good in the air as Andy Carroll or Peter Crouch. We tend to be more direct if they are leading the line.

While I'm delighted Carroll scored, the headlines the following day were a bit premature – some papers said he is better than Drogba. I don't accept that. He took his goal well, which is how you judge strikers, but he was poor on the night. Goodness knows what Peter Crouch thought as it looks like he has been bombed completely out. Having scored all those important goals he must be devastated. I don't suppose Capello has told him why, he doesn't do that.



4. Seeing kids perform brings a lump to the throat

What will I be doing this afternoon? Will I be on the sofa with Sky Sports on, following all the scores and biting my fingernails? No, I'll be at a West End matinee with William, Amy and Sharon. It's Sharon's birthday and I'll get some right brownie points for this.

On Wednesday I went to William's school play, Robin and his Merry Men. He was Friar Nosh. We all think our kids are the best, but when you see them on stage like that you do get a lump in the throat. Amy has also been involved in the arts this week too with a singing exam. Over the last year her voice has got really good. I used to start howling when she and William sang, but now I listen.



5. I don't look forward to games against my home club

We play my hometown team, and my old club, Sheffield United, on Monday. I don't enjoy these games. There's still a lot of people at Sheffield who are good friends and I'm sad to see the position they are in. They've had injures galore, none more so than Chris Morgan, the captain, who would have been so important at a time like this. They will be buoyed after beating Leeds and are fighting for their lives so it'll be a difficult game.



6. Might Sachin flop yet India still triumph in Mumbai?

I know two of the key people at QPR, Amit Bhatia and Ishan Saksena, will be glued to the TV set today, like every Indian person in the country, for what promises to be a fantastic Cricket World Cup final. It's almost made for Sachin Tendulkar to get his hundredth hundred. But I wonder what are the odds on him getting a duck and India still winning?



7. No need for quota – good coaches like Curle will make it

I've been asked this week what I think about football bringing in a version of the NFL's Rooney Rule, which means clubs must interview a black candidate when a manager's job is available. Personally, and I say this as someone who has a black coach in Keith Curle who I think will one day be an excellent manager, and an Asian physio, I am not in favour. I believe whatever the colour of your skin if you are good enough you'll get on. Paul Ince has suggested he would have got better opportunities if he was white. He might want to ask if he would have got such good opportunities, having barely worked as a coach, and not done his badges, if he had not played for England.

My night with QPR's greats

I had the pleasure of meeting some of QPR's great names when I attended a legends' night in aid of the club's Community Trust, which does a lot of excellent work, especially with disabled kids.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?