Neil Warnock: I'll be freezing in my shorts today – but I hope the lads keep me shivering all winter
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 13 November 2010
I got back from Portsmouth on Wednesday morning about 1am. Bedtime? No, I needed a long soak in a hot bath.
It was three hours after the final whistle, I'd been in a warm bus and my warm car, but I still felt cold in my bones, especially around my hip replacement.
Independent readers are an educated bunch, and I don't suppose it has taken you long to work out why I was cold to the core, not after seeing the photograph above. Yes. I was wearing shorts at Fratton Park, and it was perishing.
Why am I wearing shorts? Well, I have got rid of almost all my superstitions, but not 'lucky clothes'. Back in the balmy days of August I started the season wearing shorts on the touchline. I did think I'd be in tracksuit bottoms by now but we haven't lost a League game yet, so I'm still wearing them. Sharon said I must be bonkers, she's probably right, but I hope my lads keep me shivering on the touchline right through to the spring.
I did think, with a few minutes to go on Tuesday, I'd be packing my trackies for today's match at Nottingham Forest. It seemed as if we were going to lose to a penalty which had been retaken, after a brilliant save from Paddy Kenny.
According to the linesman Paddy had come off his line before Liam Lawrence shot. Well, he might have done, by an inch or two, but as Dermot Gallacher said, if you ordered retakes for that every kick would be retaken. Meanwhile Kanu has put his great size 15s more than a foot into the box, as he did for the kick Lawrence scored.
You can see all this for yourself (above), as Andy Belk, our IT man, was able to freeze-frame the moment on his computer. I took Andy into the press conference to show them it was not just another example of me ranting and raving. As I said to the linesman afterwards, "if you flag for something like that you are in the game for the wrong reasons".
Anyway, my side, down to 10 men as Matt Connolly was sent off for the penalty (I'd no argument with that decision) showed great desire to get a penalty of their own and it felt like a win when Tommy Smith tucked it away.
So now we are getting ready to play Forest. They have gone 27 home games without defeat and have never lost to QPR at the City Ground. With injuries and suspensions we are down to a bare minimum. So we travelled with a lot of confidence, but I'm looking forward to it. And if it all goes wrong at least I can dig out the trackies.
2. Our William could teach a few players how to tackle
Fancy seeing Cesc Fabregas accidentally, without any maliciousness, commit that tackle against Stephen Ward of Wolves. I did smile when I saw he and Arsène had apologised. You see, it can happen to other people.
Talking of tackles, last Friday night, in the rain, I went to the Grasshoppers after school. That's a team William plays for. I looked around this centre, there were about 10 games going on, and I did marvel at all the volunteers and parents there. It really is a fantastic sport when you see the enjoyment at an event like that.
Like his Dad, Will's a winger; unlike his Dad he likes to tackle. Some of the lads are a good foot taller and twice as strong, but he's fearless and I love it when he crunches into them.
The adults chat and the kids have a bite and some squash afterwards before we leave with a warm glow. Then it takes 90 minutes to go four miles home and we come back to earth. What a difference when it gets dark and you can't drive through Richmond Park.
3. I'm with Ollie, there are different rules for the big clubs
I see the Premier League are thinking of fining Blackpool for fielding a weakened team at Villa, just as they did Wolves last year. The whole thing leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. The Premier League were not so concerned about the "credibility" of their competition when Manchester United played a weakened team in the last game of the season against West Ham and lost, sending my Sheffield United team down. Nor, even worse, when Liverpool played the reserves the week before and lost to Fulham. Did they investigate? Did they hell. Liverpool were playing the Champions League final three weeks later and the Premier League couldn't give a damn about Sheffield United. When it comes to anything like this the Premier League only looks after the top clubs.
What the League should do is congratulate Ian Holloway for the fantastic job he has done at Blackpool, who have added so much to the season, and then look into why a full-strength Manchester City side decided not to venture over the halfway line against United on Wednesday. How disappointing after the way City beat Chelsea to go about one of the best chances they'll ever have of putting United in their place.
I thought I'd made a mistake in agreeing with Sharon to go out for a meal before I realised the derby was on. I'm now so pleased I went. We had a fabulous meal before coming home and watching the game on Sky+, when I could fast-forward through most of it without missing anything.
4. Welsh wobbles were a great after-dinner treat
I refused to look at the scores during the night but outside the restaurant I bumped into some QPR fans. They were bubbling. They said "Swansea lost at home, Cardiff only got a point". I had to remind them that it is a very, very long season, but sometimes when you feel disappointed with your own result it turns out a good one.
5. Barton may be guilty, but what about Huddlestone?
Watching TV show 45 angles of Joey Barton's punch until they got the right one, I thought, "That wouldn't have been spotted when I was playing, people got away with murder then". But answer me this: is his half-punch worse than Tom Huddlestone's stamp on Johan Elmander? As managers we are going to have to ask the Football Association if they could inform us of the club allegiance of the men on that disciplinary committee. There do seem to be some anomalies.
6. Why I cannot wait for 'Downton Abbey' to be back
I have been watching Downton Abbey, the period drama, and loved every minute of it. On Sunday I tuned in for what I had been told was the last episode thinking about the five or six puzzles that had to be solved. With about 10 minutes left there's an advert break and I'm sitting there thinking, "They will have to work quick here to solve all these puzzles". Needless to say, 10 minutes later it finishes with all these loose ends still to be tied up and a voice tells me "Downton Abbey will be back on your screens next year". Why not tell me before I start watching?
I also watched Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor with the kids. I laughed my head off at good old Ann Widdecombe, who I like, surviving. Then I saw Wagner staying on X Factor. There must be those people ganging up via Facebook or something on Simon Cowell; don't tell me I can't sing and dance better than Wagner.
And finally, old Jack Duckworth bit the dust in Coronation Street. He's brought so much joy to that programme over the years. I loved his infatuation with the pigeons and Vera were a fabulous character. I suppose it shows my age, but it was a fitting end to a wonderful role.
7. The art of letting go – your children, not when abseiling
Amy had her first riding lesson this week. She wanted to see what it is like. The idea of my little girl on a great big horse has always frightened me and I wasn't keen. Then I thought, "things can happen to you just walking out the front door". You can't watch them every day.
I then began thinking of the dangerous things I had done, like abseiling down the Grand Hotel at Scarborough when I was manager there. It was a stunt to do with the Army but the local paper needed an early picture for their deadline and persuaded me to do it before we were given any training. Having to let go from the top of that hotel was the most terrifying thing I've ever done.
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