Neil Warnock: It's becoming all too common to face a team with a new manager at the helm
What I Learnt This Week
It was great for us to bounce back at Birmingham in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, after a bleak Saturday losing at Yorkshire rivals Barnsley. I expect when we went 1-0 down at St Andrew's everybody expected us to fold as, for all Birmingham's current difficulties, they still have some very good players. But the boys showed character, played some good stuff, and thoroughly deserved to progress.
The win brought rich reward – a home televised tie against Spurs. We really have done well with cup draws this season; this will be our fourth home match against Premier League opposition, having played Everton, Southampton and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.
It's great for our fans and they deserve it. Even on a cold and miserable night we took 1,500 to Birmingham and the support was absolutely fantastic. Though we had been poor at Barnsley, they completely got behind the team from the off and I never heard one negative comment all night, even when we went behind. I expect most of the fans at Birmingham had also been at Barnsley. They are the real hard core of our support and it was great to give them something to cheer about on the long journey home.
We have to forget about Spurs today and concentrate on Bristol City. They are languishing at the bottom but, as Sod's Law would have it, have a new manager in charge. Such is the managerial turnover in the Championship perhaps it's not that unusual.
The new man is Sean O'Driscoll. It was only at Christmas that Sean was in charge of a Nottingham Forest team that beat us. After having a drink with him in the office I was travelling home only to hear he'd been sacked, so I hope that is a warning for him: he needs to lose today, then he'll be OK.
2. Wilshere wonder
I saw the most complete performance in midfield for a long time this week when I watched Jack Wilshere against Swansea. I have never seen him dominate a game so much and any fears he would take time to recover from that serious injury he had must now have gone out of the window. If he can remain injury-free I think it opens up a whole new world for Roy Hodgson and the England team. Wilshere could play in any team in the world and not look out of place.
Wilshere was involved in this week's controversial sending-off. I was surprised Kompany's red card was overturned as the rules state it has to be an obvious error, yet his tackle could easily have hurt Wilshere, which is what managers are told is what matters. I was way off the mark last week when I said that game would be an easy one for Mike Dean. Manchester United v Liverpool was a doddle for Howard Webb in comparison. I happen to think Mike had a great game and got nearly every decision right, which is not easy in a match of such high tempo.
The other controversial match this week was Manchester United against West Ham. I expect Sam Allardyce will be getting a call from the compliance unit after he said "the difference between Rafael's handball and Spence's was that Jordan plays for West Ham away against Manchester United and Rafael plays at home at Old Trafford", but most managers would know what Sam was on about.
On the subject of officials, can somebody tell me what harm was done by linesman John Brooks telling the Manchester City players to go and wave at the fans who had paid £62 to be at Arsenal? Surely you have to allow a bit of humour. We don't want robots that don't speak. Well done, John, for showing officials can be human.
3. Johnson's sad image
I was saddened to see the picture of Michael Johnson and his sad demise at such a young age. I remember trying to sign him a couple of times on loan but he was too good for the teams I was at. He was going to be the next Bryan Robson, It just shows how quickly things can change in football and how no one can take anything for granted.
On a similar note, I was really sad to see Darren Fletcher being ruled out for the season after an operation for his bowel condition. He has fought tooth and nail to get back to fitness and everyone will be hoping this operation will give him a chance to be up and running next season. He deserves it.
One man who will certainly be hoping Darren gets back to this best is Gordon Strachan as Darren has got to be one of Scotland's best players. It is a great appointment for Gordon. He has seen and done it all at club level but I don't think he enjoyed the last job at Middlesbrough. Managing your country is different and you can already see that extra skip in his walk and smile. If he doesn't succeed it won't be for lack of trying.
Character is so important in football. A player who showed it this week was Jon Walters, bouncing back after his two own goals and a missed penalty against Chelsea to score twice for Stoke in midweek. There is no more hard-working forward and I was pleased for him. I remember being so disappointed when he went there – I had him sat in my office trying to get him to come to QPR and help us get out of the Championship. Then Tony Pulis rang and offered him Premier League football immediately. That was always going to sway him and he has been a fabulous signing for Stoke.
4. It's amazing how team morale snowballs
The players were a bit surprised on Thursday when I took them out on to the snow for a match. As I told them, in my day we just rolled the snow flat, took out an orange ball and got on with it. Once they got playing they enjoyed it, and took it seriously because there was a forfeit. As you can see, the losers had to line up on the goal-line while the winners snowballed them from the edge of the box – two snowballs each.
That sort of thing is great for team spirit, but today we had a full session on a good pitch. Leeds' facilities are the best I've known and we were able to cover one pitch overnight. When we rolled the covers back it was snow-free and not frozen.
We've had snow up here most of the week, which has made the kids very jealous, but it finally arrived in their part of Cornwall this morning so they can enjoy a snowy weekend.
5. Pep talks nonsense
No wonder journalists don't take any notice of what managers say. On Wednesday morning all the papers were full of Pep Guardiola saying, "I want to manage in England". At lunchtime it was revealed he is going to Germany.
I wasn't that surprised. He will relish the environment at Bayern, who do have fantastic facilities and great players. As this season's Champions League has shown, the top German teams are really among the best in Europe again.
6. Ban the divers
It was interesting seeing Luis Suarez admitting to diving. I have long said – and a lot of managers agree – if players who commit dives that prove to be blatant were given a three-to-six-match ban it would soon put a stop to it.
7. Nicely poised ties
I wonder what the odds were on a Swansea-Bradford City Wembley final at the start of the season, or even the start of the month. But the Capital One Cup final could yet be Aston Villa-Chelsea. Chelsea are playing better away from home at present, as we know as they scored five goals against us in 45 minutes in the previous round. I know we are not a Premier League team but Swansea will be well aware that Chelsea are more than capable of overturning a two-goal lead. The other semi is also nicely poised.
8. FA snubbed me
I was disappointed not to get an invite to the FA's 150th anniversary party this week. After all, I must have paid for half the meals they served with all the fines I've paid over the years.
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