Neil Warnock: Job done - a second chance for Diouf and three more seasons for McCormack

What I learnt this summer

Welcome back, everyone. I'm delighted to have signed on for the eighth season of my Independent column, only a couple of years from a testimonial! It's been quite a long break due to the Euros and the Olympics but it hasn't seemed it because I've needed every day to transform the squad I inherited at Leeds. As of this moment, 12 players have left and 10 new signings arrived. It's been one of the most difficult summers I've had, partly because we've had potential buyers doing due diligence regarding a proposed takeover, so I've not really had a clear idea of my budget. At times I've been planning to spend substantial amounts of money but then had to change tack. But I still think we have done well to get the players we have and, with the takeover talk on-going, there may be more to add.

My best signing has got to be Paddy Kenny. He's been with me everywhere, right back to Bury, and I wouldn't swap him for any Premier League goalkeeper, let alone a Championship one. But that is not the signing you want to hear about, is it? You want to know how I've ended up with El Hadji Diouf, given the things I called him a couple of years ago.

It all started in June when I bumped into him at a function. We ended up having a couple of hours talking about football. I made it clear to him what I disliked about his approach and certain issues, but I enjoyed the conversation. So when it was put to me a couple of weeks ago that I might want to have a look at him I thought, "Why not?"

If the takeover had happened I would have spent a large amount on a wide player, but I can't spend what I haven't got and there's no denying Diouf has got ability. So I spoke to him, and others who know him, like Mickey Walker, Doncaster's director of football last season, and Sam Allardyce, who had Diouf at Bolton. Mickey said he was a credit helping the young lads and worked hard in training. Big Sam told me a lot about him, 80 per cent of which was good. It would have been easier for me not to sign him, as I knew I would get stick from certain journalists who have nothing else to write about, but I always believe people deserve to be given a second chance. So I signed him as a non-contract player and gave him a run against Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup last week. Then after the game the referee's assessor mentioned him. I thought, "What's he done now?" but the assessor proceeded to tell me about a disabled children's party at Blackburn last year when Diouf was first in and last out and talked to every kid at great length. I guess we've always heard more about the bad things he's done but it's amazing how many people have spoken well of him since he came to us. We've enjoyed having him and he's fitted in well so far.

2. Crowd are fantastic

I'm delighted to announce Ross McCormack, last season's top scorer, yesterday signed a new three-year contract. That helps to compensate for losing Robert Snodgrass to the lure of the Premier League. As a young manager losing a player like that is a dagger in the heart but as you get older you accept these things happen and it gives opportunities to other lads. Indeed, a couple of our younger players, Sam Byram and Dominic Poleon, stepped into the squad in pre-season and have done very well. I've ended up with a decent squad, but unlike the bigger-spending clubs I can't afford injuries to certain players so I'll keep fingers crossed. However, the main player for Leeds this season will be the crowd. To have 18,000 turning up against Shrewsbury in the first round of the Capital One Cup must take some beating.

I knew it would be a big gate from the number of fans who joined us in Cornwall at pre-season to enjoy a fantastic week's weather in one of the best parts of the country. We had an open-day training season attended by over 1,000 people, and had more than 3,000 converging on Torquay's Plainmoor to fill their new stand for a friendly. I expect that support to play a major part, beginning with our mouth-watering lunch-time kick-off in front of the cameras against Wolves today.

3. Olympics obsessed

I've never been as glued to the TV as I was during the Olympics. One night Sharon and I were jumping up and down cheering when I suddenly saw the time and said to her: "Do you realise it's 1am and we're watching volleyball?" That summed it up. What fantastic memories. The look on the faces of Sophie Hosking and Kat Copeland, the rowers, when they realised they had won gold; Charlotte Dujardin in the dressage; Nicola Adams, the boxing lass from Leeds with the fantastic smile. It was great to see so many medal winners from Yorkshire. We were in front of Australia for a long time – as I kept pointing out to Paddy Kisnorbo,

The golden Saturday night I rushed home from a good pre-season win against a decent Preston team, opened a bottle of wine, sat on the bed and settled down to watch, one by one, Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah win gold. I was especially rooting for Jess as she's a Sheffield girl. Watching that last lap, the noise of the crowd, even through the TV, was deafening. Seeing her sprint past everyone to win that 800m, there couldn't have been a dry eye in the country. It was such an emotional night. Rutherford seemed to be carried through the air by the crowd. To top it off, Farah was incredible. All those years getting up at 4am, seven days a week, in all weathers, paid off but can you imagine telling footballers to do that? We'd have the union and their agents on to us in no time.

4. Swimmers a class act

While I'm in Leeds the family have moved to Devon. It's not ideal but with Will starting senior school it is only right we stop moving him from pillar to post. He's joined Amy at Plymouth College, so we had a special interest in some Olympic events. Remember the 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte who won the 100m breaststroke? She's in Amy's year so we all cheered her to the finishing line. Amy was so pleased. Tom Daley is also at the school and I was delighted when under all that pressure he came up with a bronze. Amy was telling me how dedicated the swimmers are. They are up at the crack of dawn to train before school. Two other girls at the school swam in the Olympics, Uganda's Jamila Lunkuse, who is also in Amy's year, and Zambia's Jade Howard. It'll be some school assembly when they do the sports results.

5. We're up for the Cup

As we left the Shrewsbury game Amy said: "Dad, do you think we can win the cup this year?" in a tone that suggested I don't normally try to. I said: "Course we can darling. Leave it to me."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments