Neil Warnock: If you insist on breaking the rules you will get punished ... eventually
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 21 March 2009
I've been in the headlines this week. It all blew up on Monday morning, just as I was embarking on the final leg of our tour of England and Wales. As I prepared to head up to Barnsley I heard that West Ham had settled with Sheffield United over the Carlos Tevez scandal.
My phone soon started ringing, with pressmen asking me for comment. Journalists have got jobs to do and I try to be as amenable as I can because if you don't speak to them you find them quoting "a source close to Neil Warnock". Inevitably, come Tuesday morning, I found that "source" had been singing like a canary again. I also woke up to find one tabloid announcing: "Warnock to sue West Ham". That was news to me. When you actually read the story it said, "Warnock is considering taking legal advice". But why let the facts get in the way of the headline?
At the time I was a bit preoccupied with preparing the team, but I've since spoken to the League Managers' Association, whose legal experts are looking at the issue. If I decide to sue West Ham, you will read about it here first.
Amid all the debate, what seems to be missed is that if the rules had been upheld I would not be complaining or thinking of taking any action. I can see the argument of people who say we should have won more games, but West Ham broke the rules and if they had not we would not have gone down, irrespective of my tactics or me blaming a referee's decision.
From the word go Kevin McCabe, Sheffield United's chairman, and myself thought we had a case. Anyone of lesser strength than Kevin would have given in to the pressure from the media, and others, but if you break the rules you get punished, eventually.
2. Even my young guns were running on empty
Barnsley proved one game too many for us, especially players like Clint Hill. In the past few years he has struggled because of injuries to play 20 games a season; he has played nearly 40 this season and finds himself the only fit centre-half we have for his third game in a week. We were running on empty in the second half, but I'm convinced we would have won the game if we had been given any consideration by the blazers who dictated the fixtures. At least, my critics will be disappointed to hear, I could not blame the referee. Graham Salisbury was superb.
The loss did not spoil the lingering glow of winning at Swansea last Saturday, our best result of the season. We were 4-1 against and must have ruined a few coupons. But we have not got the depth to produce results like that consistently. We have lost four centre-backs at the moment. Imagine Manchester United losing Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans and Wes Brown. I think our fittest centre-half is my assistant, Keith Curle. He was outstanding at the five-a-side on Thursday morning, but it takes him four days to get over it which pretty much rules him out of our match against Reading on TV at 20 past 5 this afternoon. I'll just have to ask everyone to do their best.
3. Moving home is a hack but now we're on course
We got back from Swansea at 11.15 at night, but the journey flies by after a win – that's what we're in the game for. It was quieter coming back from Barnsley. I got in at half-three, and was woken at seven by the kids. After that I was delighted to go house hunting. Thank goodness Sharon had done her homework and found one we can move to shortly. It's by a municipal golf course, so we had some dinner there, by the first tee. I soon realised my hacker's swing would look quite normal on a municipal course. One chap had his own buggy. Seeing as we've had to send my scooter back, Amy made me come out and have a look as she thought I should hire one in May after I get my hip done.
By then I felt pretty tired but the reserves were playing down the road. We had a team of kids so I felt I should go and watch. They won 4-1 and showed again we have some very good young lads. I've given 11 their debut in 16 months here, and expect to give another two a go before the end of the season. I know the big clubs are looking and they'll probably be tuning in today when I expect we'll have three Under-19s in the side.
4. Bayern can party like it is not 1999
Everyone thinks the Champions League final will be Manchester United v Barcelona but I fancy Bayern Munich to come through what is clearly a tougher half of the draw to beat them – on penalties. It will be revenge for losing in 1999.
In the Uefa Cup Manchester City will have to play much better than they did on Thursday night to reach the final. Mark Hughes must have been tearing his hair out the way they nearly threw it away. I felt for him. I was not surprised when he took Robinho off. Away from home his contribution is minimal. You have to ask if signing him was Mark's idea.
5. High price to be paid for all this time away
What with the travelling I've not seen much of the kids recently but I did see William looking very prim and proper one morning before heading off to the National Gallery with the school. He thought it super. There's a lot to be said for living down here.
That same day Amy had to use a phone box. She was explaining how they work, how you have to put 50p in. I tried to tell her that when I were young I used to go to the box at the corner of the road with four pennies whenever I wanted to ring anyone.
Amy's French has improved since her trip to France, fortunately it's not the same French I use in my team talks. I asked if she'd brought any money back. She went with €60. She came back with 15 cents. That phrase, "like mother, like daughter", comes to mind.
6. A proper contest only way to light up Ashes
I've been following the debate over Aussie cricketers playing here ahead of the Ashes. I can understand Andrew Strauss's complaint, that Stuart Clark can get fit at my new local county, Kent, and Phil Hughes has the opportunity to get used to English conditions, but personally I'm not too bothered. Like my former colleague on these pages, Gus Fraser, who signed Hughes for Middlesex, I'd like to beat the Aussies at full strength.
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