Neil Warnock: I was in the bath when Phil Neville popped in and said 'well done'...

What I Learnt This Week

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The Independent Football

When I was in the Premier League with Sheffield United I was often asked, if there was one player I could sign, who would it be? Everyone expected me to say Cristiano Ronaldo or someone like that, but the answer for me was Gary Neville, and the second was his brother, Phil.

You might think that strange but they are such good pros and Gary now has been an absolute breath of fresh air on the television, the best studio analyst since Sky started. But his influence at Man United was hugely significant in their successes and Phil's had a similar impact at Everton.

I saw Phil before Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie against Everton and said to him: "The number of times I've tried to sign you and never quite got there." We had a laugh, but it is easy to laugh before a match. After the game, and we had celebrated such a fantastic result, I just wanted to take 10 minutes by myself so I went in my room and had a bath. I was a little surprised when the door opened and Phil popped his head round – he had come to pay his respects to our performance.

That typified not just Phil, but the family. Jill, his mother, was my secretary at Bury and his dad, Neville Neville, was commercial manager. They are wonderful people and how proud they must have been over the years to have two great boys like that. They are nice, and they are winners, which is why I would have wanted either of them in my team at any time. Though, being a Leeds manager, I'm not sure I should be complimenting two people so closely associated with Manchester United! Phil was given a hot reception on Wednesday but, like Gary, he thrived upon it.

Eddie Gray also spoke to me after the match. He said: "The atmosphere was like going back in time; there was that special night game feeling for the first time in years." I took that as a massive compliment as this is a club which has had some fantastic nights.

It was certainly a wet one. It was chucking it down all day and everyone said: "What about the weather?" I said: "I hope it keeps up; the worse the conditions the better against a Premier League team." Not that the pitch was a factor. It was fabulous despite having had a month's rain in a day.

With the rain and the atmosphere it really was an old-fashioned tie. I even finished with both centre-halves bandaged up, one with 12 stitches, the other with six.

Incidentally, there's been a lot of speculation regarding the takeover at Leeds but I'm just telling everybody my focus is on managing the team.

2 Good to see a fit Dyer

One of the best things about my old club QPR is Kieron Dyer getting back to full fitness. In all my career I have never felt as sorry for a player as I did for Kieron when, having been our best player pre-season a year ago, he got injured within five minutes of our first game against Bolton. It turned out to be an unusual injury which took him the best part of four months to overcome.

And then he did it again in his first game back. I think everyone felt like crying for him when he had to come off in that reserve team game. But all credit to him, he has fought back against all the odds and it was great to see him come on and play 87 minutes at White Hart Lane last weekend, and follow it up with a good run in the Capital One Cup in midweek.

Kieron is such a versatile player. I don't think those people who said he had come on in an unfamiliar position against Tottenham realised he played for England at right-back. Then on Wednesday he started and got another hour in.

All he needs now is a good run free of injuries and he will grace any team. I hope he gets that and proves I was right to sign him in the first place, because people were sceptical. If ever QPR let him go there is always a place for him with me.

3 Sir Alex spot-on again

I had to smile last week when Manchester United won with a penalty at Anfield.

As you know, managers are not allowed to talk about referees before a game any more, so I thought it was a masterstroke for Sir Alex to take advantage of a question about who would take a penalty in the game for United if they got one.

Never one to turn down an opportunity to put pressure on a referee, he gave a fantastic quote: "I've been here 25 years, 10 months and I've had one penalty-kick at Anfield, so that's not an issue on Sunday. I don't need to talk about it. Wait till the next game, then we can discuss it." And we all know what happened.

Anyone playing football knows Glen Johnson's tackle on Valencia was not a penalty, but nine out of 10 referees would have given it. As a manager you have to accept these decisions are going to be given, because in fairness I don't think referees are taught what to look for – and even if they are it is so difficult at the speed Premier League football is played at to have to make a judgement based on one viewing at normal speed from one angle. Unlike all the pundits on TV, with replay after replay. Given he had no chance of getting to the ball, it was ridiculous of Johnson to put the referee in that position.

We had the same situation a couple of weeks ago with the lad Nicky Maynard at Cardiff. He knew as soon as he got into the box to go down when the challenge came in. That doesn't stop me wishing Maynard a speedy recovery from a bad knee injury. He's a good player, who we tried to sign ourselves this season.

United's penalty was nowhere near as clear a penalty as the one Luis Suarez did not get, but Suarez's reputation is now going before him. Brendan Rodgers must have felt terrible knowing his team had played so well and had the penalties go the wrong way, but things happen like that.

I can't believe Manchester United won the game, but we must have been saying that for 10 to 15 years, which is why they are the only club to beat if you want to win the Premier League. And they still have Ashley Young to come back to test the referees.

4 Arsenal blossoming

I was pleased with Arsenal's comeback at the champions last weekend. Once again Arsène Wenger has proved that, though good players go, the team continues to blossom and they are wonderful to watch. I personally would love to see them win the league but it is going to be a hard task.

I just have a feeling Arsenal will beat Chelsea today, but you can imagine Chelsea defensively being strong and now John Terry has called it a day with England that can only help their cause.

Roberto Mancini must be getting ruffled, as I spotted a couple of hairs out of place on Sunday, but there is bound to be extra pressure on managers who have spent so much money.

It is the same in the Championship – four or five have spent fortunes and their owners will expect promotion. But I would still rather have that money to spend and that pressure than not.

5 It's a family affair

William had a good week, playing a year up in the school rugby team and finding out he'd been accepted in Plymouth Argyle's academy.

I love going to watch the academies. Kevin Hodges, a Plymouth legend, is in charge. He's so enthusiastic. He played for me at Torquay, while the scout at Torquay when I went there was John James – he's now involved at Plymouth, so it's good to see some familiar faces.

I don't think the new youth development regulations help clubs in the lower divisions as the maximum you can get for a top player now is about £75,000, yet they are expensive to run. You can have a lad from nine to 15 or 16; the big clubs watch them play and take them. Even if they play for England the developing club don't get much.