Neil Warnock: I want the fans and players to forget about the FA hearing and just enjoy today
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 07 May 2011
I obviously still can't talk about the hearing into our alleged contract irregularities.
All I've been concerned with is winning the Championship. The players have done fantastic and I want them and the fans to forget about the hearing and enjoy today. We're being presented with the Championship trophy and the players have earned it. After today a joke I was told this week will be out of date. There was a break-in at QPR's trophy room. The burglar was apprehended a mile away, with 40 yards of blue-and-white carpet.
I have seen different people in the news talking about the case but none of them is privy to the evidence. One that did amuse me was Mark Palios coming in and talking as if he knew something just to gain some cheap publicity; you'd have thought he'd had enough of being in the papers.
We have a cracking finish today, playing Leeds in a match televised by the BBC. It will be a good atmosphere with Leeds fans down in force as they still have a mathematical chance of pipping Nottingham Forest for the final play-off spot. Although we have won the league, and will be in a celebratory mood, there's no need for Billy Davies to worry, we'll be playing to win. Leeds away was probably one of the darkest moments of the season They beat us comprehensively 2-0. It was obvious to us afterwards by the comments made by Leeds players in the tunnel that they thought they were going to win the league, and we were on the way down.
I've a lot of time for Ken Bates who I nearly worked with once. I remember him showing me plans at Chelsea of how it would be in five years' time, to which I said: "I'll never last five year with you." In fairness he did wonders for the club, even though he sold it at the right time. Although they've had some ups and downs I think Leeds fans will be pleased he's come on board, they needed someone like Ken who is a bit immovable, to get them back on the straight and narrow and I can only see success in the future.
So how did I celebrate winning the Championship title last weekend? (a) A night of champagne and cocktails at a swish nightclub? (b) A slap-up meal in a West End restaurant? (c) A cheese sandwich in my pyjamas?
If you've been reading this column for a while you'll have correctly guessed (c). The lads went to a nightclub. The directors had planned something. They were all going to have a great night but I just felt I had to go home. I felt really tired. It's been a long season and with the relief of finally getting the points that would win the Championship it all hit me.
I'd William back from Watford on the bus with me. It's not a long journey but as you can imagine, it was a fabulous atmosphere. Sharon and Amy were back at the training ground, they'd also been to the match, and we drove home. So while all the players were getting into their glad rags at about 8pm we were on our bed in our pyjamas. I had a cheese sandwich with piccalilli, then Amy slipped away and brought a bottle of champagne up from the fridge. That was our celebration night. I know it is not what is expected, but in fairness I don't think I would have lasted two minutes if I'd gone out.
After the game I didn't have one drink, not even a glass of champagne until Amy poured that one on the bed. I just wanted to take everything in on the pitch, in the dressing room, everything; it wasn't quite a blur, more like being in a movie and watching it at the same time.
It was a great afternoon. The Watford people were really good. The guy with the microphone got a bit stroppy as it was their final home match and they wanted to clear the pitch so their players could come on and thank the fans. I'd said to security beforehand, "You've got to give us five minutes, I'll get the lads off as quick as we can." He was getting a bit excited so I said to him, "Excuse me pal, we've just won the Championship, calm down a bit." They relaxed a bit, we got inside, and they had their presentations.
In all the joy, though, I did feel a bit of sadness in that the club I helped build up to promotion to the Premier League had been relegated into League One. It took seven years of blood, sweat and tears to transform Sheffield United and while they had been hanging on the precipice the last few weeks it didn't really hit home until I was told they were relegated. I know sometimes you have to regroup but I do think it'll be difficult next season. Every team that comes to Bramall Lane will be charged up by knowing they are playing the biggest club in the division.
2. There is no point us doing well without staying well too
The first call I received on Monday was from the Wellness Centre. They run fitness checks on managers in conjunction with the League Managers Association (LMA). They said it was time for my medical. They must have seen me jumping up and down at Vicarage Road and worried about my heart. I'm booking in the next fortnight, now the games are done. It's an excellent service. The LMA's gone from strength to strength in providing that sort of thing. And now they have a centre in London, as well as the one in Stockport, there's no excuse. I do feel guilty when I put a couple of pounds on; it doesn't really become me wearing shorts. I won't be wearing them today no matter how hot it is. Amy calls me Tweedledee, or is it Tweedledum?
3. Lambert leads a host of quality Championship bosses
Leeds have one of the up-and-coming young managers in Simon Grayson. He's a big future ahead of him and been very close to winning successive promotions. Don't tell me we don't have quality managers coming through in our country, I won't have it. Last week we faced another in Malky Mackay, who's done superbly this year. Then there's Brendan Rodgers, who is in the play-offs with Swansea, and Kenny Jackett at Millwall who came up last year and had a fantastic season taking his team to the penultimate game with a chance of the play-offs.
Which brings us to Paul Lambert at Norwich. What a magnificent achievement he's had there. I was driving listening to the football commentaries on Monday and although I could not believe Cardiff lost, I was not at all surprised that Norwich won at Portsmouth to clinch automatic promotion afterwards.
To get two promotions in two years is no mean achievement. I was fortunate to do the same with Notts County when we come up from the Second Division. People talk about establishing yourself when you have been promoted, but when you get on a run it's a great feeling and you do feel you can win every time. That they have scored so many late goals shows how good the spirit has been. I'm delighted to see them come up. It's a lovely club. I love Delia and her mother, she's been so supportive of the club through difficult times, she really deserves this.
So do the fans. I was listening to talkSPORT and they were talking about our case. Three Norwich fans came on. They were all pleased they'd gone up but didn't want to win the Championship by default and wished us luck in the outcome. I was struck that when Sharon heard she said, "They'd not want it that way, they have class." I think some of the other clubs would snap their fingers off.
4. I'm backing United to see off Chelsea's surprising challenge
Who'd have thought a couple of months ago that we'd be in a situation where if Chelsea win a game they'll go top of the league. It's just the minor thing that the game is at Old Trafford. Thankfully for Chelsea they'll have a chance as Manchester United will play the first team. The second team looked out of this world on Wednesday as they brushed Schalke 04 aside as if it was a pre-season friendly. It shows the quality in the squad. While you would not write Chelsea off I still can't see anything other than it being Manchester United's title now.
5. Keeper Kenny sweeps QPR awards after 25 clean sheets
We had our player of the year award last Sunday and Paddy Kenny won both the supporters' and the players' player of the year award, which shows what a season he has had: with the help of a fantastic defence he's kept 25 clean sheets from 45 games. Adel Taarabt won the goal of the season. When they showed the video of our best times I realised he'd either scored or made them all. He really has had a fantastic season.
6. The ducks in the garden are very friendly
I'd like to talk about the family, but for one reason or another I've hardly seen them this week. The exception has been playing table tennis in the garden. Sharon's been whacking it down and William has improved beyond all recognition. I'd better start giving him less of a start.
The garden's full of life. There's blue tits nesting. And on Thursday afternoon I drove back up home to see a pair of ducks under the trees in the front garden. A male and a female. They didn't even get up when I opened the car door and went in the house.
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