Neil Warnock: I’m not quite ready for babysitting duty yet – the game gets to me far too much
What I Learnt This Week
Last Saturday morning, as I was reading my Independent, the phone rang with some great news: my first granddaughter had arrived. Sarah, wife of my eldest, James, had given birth to Evie.
She's 7lb 13oz and it wasn't until I went to see her and picked her up that I was reminded just how small babies are. Grandson Charlie, who's just over two, looked a giant in comparison. He thinks his sister is a cracker at the moment, but I'm sure that will change over the years. One of the bonuses about living in Leeds at present is that I am nearby, so I'm hoping to see plenty of Evie – not that granddad is volunteering for babysitting duties just yet.
With that news I went to Elland Road for the game with Cardiff feeling very good, only to be brought down to earth by a 1-0 defeat against the runaway leaders. The result was hard to take as we played so well. They didn't have a shot all game until young Sam Byram, who's been fabulous so far this season, miscued a clearance. It fell to Craig Bellamy, who only hit a tame shot – but Sod's Law it went to Fraizer Campbell, who'd come on as sub and just had to steer the ball into an open goal.
To rub salt into the wounds we had a top referee in Mike Dean and he was absolutely perfect throughout the game – until 20 minutes to go when we had the most certain handball of many years not given. When I saw it back on video it was clearly deliberate, but it was also clear Mike had got himself in a position where he couldn't have seen it, and neither could his assistant. So I couldn't even go in and slaughter them after the game. I did go in, but what can you say other than, "I would have hoped you'd be in a better position for such a vital decision"?
I was going back to Cornwall for a couple of days after the game and the defeat did make it seem like an almighty long drive home. As a manager you sit behind the wheel asking yourself over and again 'Why did they not see that?' and 'Why did Sam have to kick it there?'
Those are the cruellest defeats, when you are the best team on the day, but it showed why Cardiff are top. They didn't play very well but came away with three points and at this stage that is all Malky Mackay and his lads will worry about.
I've always wondered what referees think when they get decisions wrong and they watch it back. I'm still not sure they care enough, because the way things are these days one bad decision can send a manager over the edge. The turnover now is ridiculous. There's now seven managers changed in the Championship since Christmas and other divisions are little better. This week saw my old assistant Keith Curle and last week's FA Cup hero Paul Dickov both lose their jobs. Keith had been at Notts County less than a year, Paul's Oldham are about to play Everton in the FA Cup fifth round. I don't think there has ever been a more difficult time to become a manager, especially a young one.
Today's match, Wolverhampton Wanderers v Leeds United, sounds like it should be a top-flight fixture, but so do so many games in the Championship. It is a division full of big clubs, most of whom believe they should be in the Premier League – which is one reason for the constant turnover of managers.
2. Retiring at the top level is the right way for Carragher to bow out
I think Jamie Carragher has made the right decision in deciding to retire at the end of the season. I think players like him, who have played at that level for so long, should retire at the top. He is one of a dying breed; to stay at one club for so many games is remarkable in this age.
3. Time to go, Frank
I had to laugh when I listened to radio programmes talking about how brilliant England are. It only seems a few weeks since it was doom and gloom but now we have beaten Brazil in a friendly everything looks rosy. The time to get excited is when England get these results in a major tournament.
However, I agree we should enjoy beating Brazil and I thought Frank Lampard's goal was worthy of winning any game. It was a better goal than it was described, he made it look easier than it was. I don't think many people appreciate how difficult the chance was.
I see there's talk he may now stay at Chelsea but, while he has been a tremendous servant for the club, it may be the right time for him to move on. "Go while they want more" is the old adage. If he does, I can't see a better option than following the path trod by David Beckham to Los Angeles. At this stage of his career, the lifestyle and financial rewards are very appealing. And while it would be more difficult if he went to America, I wouldn't write him off getting to 100 caps. I think he accepts he is a squad player in the England team and that is half the battle for a manager. I'm sure he will be a good example to have around the younger players.
I kept switching between games on Wednesday and was pleased for Gordon Strachan when Scotland scored from a well-worked free-kick. I think it might have been one of my old ones – Stuart McCall must have told Gordon about it. Only joking, but Stuart was my assistant for many years at Sheffield United and he's a good appointment by Gordon. He's doing really well with Motherwell and knows the scene up there.
I was pleased to see Wales overcome Austria with another wonderful Gareth Bale show and watched part of Republic of Ireland's match against Poland. I know he's my own player but I thought Paul Green was man of the match when he came on for the second half, so I've no doubt he'll be picked for the next squad instead of initially being a reserve.
I was glad Paul came back unscathed. It really is a nightmare week for managers. Our Jamaican international Rudy Austin had a nice easy World Cup qualifier in Mexico City from which he only got back yesterday morning. He was bubbling after Jamaica got a draw, but tired.
4. Jack's the lad
William cheered me up Sunday morning when I went to see him play for Plymouth Argyle's academy team in a 5-2 win over Bristol Rovers. I really enjoyed the game and thought both teams were a credit. It is great watching these academy teams now. There has been a real improvement in youth coaching and as I have also seen at Leeds the boys are encouraged to be comfortable on the ball. William talks about the way Jack Wilshere plays and he has got to be a great role model with the way he dribbles with the ball, passes, tackles – every aspect of his game. Wilshere is becoming one of the few players I would pay to watch.
Another highlight on Sunday was going out to do the chickens and finding six eggs. I have my little basket to collect them in – I look like Little Red Riding Hood's granny.
It's not been such a good week for Amy as she had to have three teeth out; the only consolation was she had a day off school. Dental work appears to be a theme of this column but, unlike her dad's, the teeth were perfectly sound, they had to come out to accommodate the growth of others. It is amazing what they have to do with these new braces to get them right.
5. United's tasty game
The fixture that whets my appetite this weekend is Manchester United v Everton tomorrow. If you remember, Everton came back from 4-2 down to draw at Old Trafford last year. Looking back, that was the day United lost the title. I'm sure they would like to put Everton in their place, but it's never easy playing them.
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