Neil Warnock: It has been an up-and-down season but it looks over now

What I Learnt This Week

I was not looking forward to yesterday's game at Reading. We had so many players out, or under par with knocks or illness, I was worried we would concede seven again, but the players gave me everything and I went back to Yorkshire last night disappointed we didn't get at least a point. We created the two best chances in the second half and if we'd taken either I couldn't see Reading getting back into it.

I knew it would be tough even before we had young Zac Thompson sent off early on. It was a harsh decision – I've seen a lot worse go unpunished. In fact, Danny Pugh made one later on in the half and he wasn't even booked while the worst challenge of the game was by Noel Hunt on our keeper. But the Madejski has always been an intimidating place to come. The players roll around and the referee gets surrounded. You can't tell me that doesn't influence decisions. I always seem to have someone sent off there. We need to make Elland Road the same fortress next season.

We had an awful build-up. With three players suspended and four out injured, I decided to give Ramon Nunez and Andy O'Brien a chance. I told them both on Monday they'd be playing. Andy pulled up on Wednesday with a hamstring problem; Ramon had a calf injury on Thursday. Another lad was away with a family health problem, Ross McCormack played with a tight hamstring and Alex Bruce with a broken nose.

I felt a little bit sorry for West Ham, Reading's promotion rivals. When we played them a couple of weeks ago we had a full squad and but for a last-minute equaliser we'd have won. It shows that when you play a team during a season can be important: whether you catch them in a good run, or when they have a lot of players absent, can make a big difference.

Yesterday's result probably finishes the season for us. The gap's too big now unless something remarkable happens. It's disappointing, but the good thing about being here at Leeds is the majority of fans understand the situation we're in and they are as tolerant as you can get.

It is difficult as a manager when you know you can't really wait for the season to end and you can get cracking on the next one. I never thought I'd have another summer of recruitment like I did when I took over at QPR, but it looks like it will have to be another busy one.

I'm lucky in that I've not often been in this situation over the years: at this stage I've usually been chasing promotion, or, a couple of times, fighting relegation. However, this is a chance to look at players and I learnt a few things about one or two yesterday that surprised me – good things. The question now is: Can they keep that up over the next five games?

2 A real rollercoaster ride for us – and I kept my eyes open

We went to Flamingo Land on Tuesday; it's Yorkshire's Alton Towers and they are sponsors of our academy. It was an open invite to the players and despite the cold and damp it was a good turnout with plenty of them coming along with their families. It's great to put something back in – sponsors are often taken for granted at a lot of clubs. A lot of fans came along as well to see us and enjoy the rides.

Our family stayed Monday night in a log cabin on site and you could easily live in somewhere like that. You have to ask why there aren't more of those instead of houses.

We were largely left to our own devices aside from a couple of photo-shoots. One of them was on a rollercoaster with motorbike-type seats. I thought we were only sitting on it for a picture, then it took off! It gets up to something like 100mph in four seconds. All I kept saying was "oh my goodness". Still, at least I kept my eyes open: we're trying to identify the player in the photo (above) who's covered up.

While I enjoyed loads of the rides, one of the best parts for me was the zoo. We got to see the rhinos really up close and were even able to stroke them – through bars, with gloves on. It was amazing to feel their power.

The thing I noticed most about the day, and the previous night, was how accommodating the staff were at the complex. So thanks to all of them.

We were supposed to go on Wednesday, but brought the day forward because the Reading game was switched from today for TV. I'm glad it was. Tuesday night I've never known wind and rain like it. There was snow in a lot of places and while we just had water we had lots of it.

3 Happy 90th birthday to one of the game's real gentlemen

I never saw Tom Finney play – I'm too young, despite what some of you might think – but over the years I met him in the boardroom whenever I played Preston. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone, and never heard anybody say a bad word about him. He is a complete gentleman and I can't imagine what he'd have been worth in today's transfer market.

You always hear what a great winger he was; he was also one of the best headers there's ever been. Happy 90th birthday, Tom.

4 Southgate would be a great pick as FA technical director

It seems Gareth Southgate is one of the front-runners to be the new technical director at the FA. He's just the type of person we need. Gareth's very good with people and I'm sure he would say the right things to the FA hierarchy, yet he also has very strong opinions on the game and I don't think he would be steamrollered into anything he didn't approve of. He's got a lot of football experience at many levels and the respect of people in the game.

5 Petrov's leukaemia battle can give Villa a lift

My prayers go out to Stiliyan Petrov; we all wish him well and I can't wait to see him back in a Villa shirt. He's a superb professional and I'm sure, with the support of everyone in football, he'll fight all the way.

Petrov's situation puts any relegation battle into context, but it is amazing how something like that can affect squad in a positive manner. Look at how Bolton have responded to Fabrice Muamba's health problems, with Owen Coyle picking up Manager of the Month. I imagine Alex McLeish must be hoping for a similar response from the Villa players to eliminate the threat of relegation as soon as possible, though obviously his first thoughts will be for Stiliyan.

6 I'm rooting for local boy Westwood in the Masters

Watching the Masters this weekend, I'll be rooting for Lee Westwood. Worksop's not far from my hometown Sheffield and he's definitely a local as far as I'm concerned. He made a great start Thursday and I hope he has kept it up overnight.

I've picked up the clubs again myself and have played a few times at a lovely little nine-hole course called the Village near where I live. It's pay-as-you-play but it is in fabulous condition. I've played with both sons, James and William. It's just my length – 300 yards is the longest hole.

7 QPR won't make it easy, but United are favourites now

This weekend is a big one in the Premier League shake-up at top and bottom. I think Roberto Mancini realises if City lose tomorrow and United win it is curtains – I think a lot of people think it is already.

United will be looking to beat my old club QPR, who will be optimistic after a good win last week. It was great to see Adel Taarabt score his first Premier League goal – in fact, it was nice to see all the old lads come in to turn their season around, Jamie Mackie, Shaun Derry and Clint Hill, and Paddy Kenny's save against Robin van Persie at 1-1 was crucial too.

City are at Arsenal, which is not exactly where you want to go when needing a win. That promises to be a fabulous game and I can't wait to watch it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games