Neil Warnock: I'm interested in moving upstairs... not commuting daily to manage Sheffield
What I Learnt This Week
After my old club Sheffield United parted company with their manager this week my phone was red hot. I'd gone swimming with the kids and discovered I had 40 missed calls in two hours. I rang quite a few back and told them I'd not had any contact with the club, and didn't anticipate any. So it was a bit of a surprise to see some of the headlines the following day, even on the BBC, suggesting I might be returning to Bramall Lane.
To clarify, I told Radio Sheffield, and others, that when I was at Bramall Lane I had spoken to Kevin McCabe, the owner-chairman then and now, about wishing to take United up to the Premier League, keep them there, then move "upstairs" into the intermediary role between manager and chairman I think all clubs need now. But I left Sheffield in 2007, so the story is a bit out of date even though that kind of role is what I am thinking of doing next.
That is very different from me wanting to become Sheffield United manager again, as some of the headlines claimed. That is not an option I'd be interested in pursuing now. I had eight great years there, but working seven days a week in Sheffield all year is not really compatible with living in Cornwall.
I know well the man who has taken over to the end of the season. I spent months trying to sign Chris Morgan from Barnsley and it was well worth the effort. I made him my captain and he was a key figure in our promotion to the Premier League. Chris was a centre half who gave 100 per cent commitment as a player and I have no doubt he will manage in the same vein. He's a smashing lad but be warned, he won't suffer fools gladly.
Kevin McCabe decided a new manager was needed after a run of poor results but, in fairness to Danny Wilson, he has lost a lot of players in the last 12 months. Obviously, Ched Evans was locked up just before the end of last season, which may well have cost the club promotion. They have since lost Matt Lowton, who scored such a fantastic goal last weekend, to Aston Villa, Reading striker Nick Blackman, Stephen Quinn, who has been instrumental in Hull's promotion challenge, and Steve Simonsen, who played every game last season.
Being without players of such quality, it was always going to be difficult for Danny. But it is a great club which can still make a push for automatic promotion and I am sure the fans will get right behind them in these last few games.
Every chairman is different and while Kevin decided to make a change, across the city Milan Mandaric kept faith with Dave Jones when he could easily have sacked him during a poor run. Dave has used all his experience to turn things around and Sheffield Wednesday now look like they should stay up.
2. Good luck at Leeds, Brian
I'm really pleased for Brian McDermott, who has taken over from me at Leeds United. I thought he was unfairly dismissed at Reading after what he had done there. I have spoken to him a lot over the years and I'm pleased he has got another job. I had a chat to him this week and told him what a big club it is, and what a great group of players he has inherited.
No disrespect to Reading, but I think Brian will be surprised at the size of Leeds. He will not have experienced such a large supporter base. It really is a massive club. That brings expectation, irrespective of the money you spend, as fans are desperate for success but Brian will bring the stability the club needs. I'll certainly be keeping an ear out for their score against Sheffield Wednesday today.
3. Big boys are up for the Cup
There has been a lot of fuss about Wigan not selling out their Wembley allocation today but I can't say I'm surprised. They have come a long way in a short time and it takes decades to build up a big supporter base. I know some people have said it shows these games should not be at Wembley, but Millwall have sold out their allocation and they have been there relatively recently.
I'm delighted for Kenny Jackett. I can't see anyone lasting as long as manager of a Championship club as he has at Millwall. He's in his sixth season! I'm also thrilled for Dave Whelan, who will be such a proud man as he leads Wigan out today.
I expect Chelsea and Manchester City, and many others, will both believe whoever wins their semi-final tomorrow will go on to win the cup. It doesn't always work out like that, but I do think both managers are desperate to win the competition. Rafa Benitez's team selection for the league game at Southampton two days before the quarter-final against Manchester United made that clear. It is obvious he thinks an FA Cup will look better on his CV when he departs at the end of the season than third or fourth place in the league. In Mancini's case, the FA Cup was the first competition City had won for many years and it paved the way for the title. With the championship now out of reach, he'll be wanting to win a trophy.
I watched the Manchester derby with William and thought it an enthralling game. Ryan Giggs' work-rate at his age was fantastic. For City, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Touré were out of this world and showed how important it is for City to have an injury-free season. But my man of the match – don't laugh – was Mike Dean, the referee. I thought in the 90 minutes he made only two small errors. He dealt with everything in a frenetic atmosphere as well as I've seen him. It shows what our top referees can do at a time when I think the up-and-coming ones have had disappointing seasons.
4. Di Canio's fitness ruse
What a shock to hear Paolo Di Canio saying the Sunderland players aren't fit. New managers always come out with the fitness line. I don't understand why they do it. It must be to let the owners think they have made the right decision, and to give them an excuse if results don't turn around immediately. I bet Sunderland's players are as fit as 90 per cent of other teams in the league.
5... and I can get fit now too
After the upheaval of last week I've been taking the opportunity to catch up with my own fitness this week. You do tend to eat and drink more than you should when things are not going well and if you're not careful you pile the pounds on. I've been grateful to Amy taking me swimming and into the gym for my work-outs.
I've also caught up with watching William play. It's been a mixed week. He scored the sixth goal in a 6-4 win over Colchester United, after which I said to him I liked his goal best. He said: "But Dad, it was only a tap-in. I couldn't have missed it." I told him those are the ones I love as a manager, more than 30-yard screamers. I'm always telling players to react first and follow shots in but it's surprising how few do, even at Leeds in recent weeks. I think things like that either come naturally to people or they don't.
I don't know if William had sympathy at the time for the Colchester players going all the way back to Essex after losing, but he will do now. His next game was at West Brom. He was up at six and, because of an accident on the M5, didn't get home until 10.30pm. One of the lads had another two hours on top to go to the bottom of Cornwall. It makes you realise how dedicated the coaches and players of a club geographically placed like Plymouth have to be. To top it all they lost 7-1, though William said "our goal was a cracker".
6. Back in the pundit's chair
I'm doing quite a bit of media work this weekend. I was on Paul Merson's show on Sky Sports last night and will be cropping up on BBC TV and radio today. I'm looking forward to seeing their new studios in Manchester for the first time.
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