Neil Warnock: Mackie and Moses prove that nice guys can finish first
What I Learnt This Week
One of the best parts of this job is seeing young players develop their potential and I looked on with pride this week at the performances of Jamie Mackie and Victor Moses, two smashing lads who have really come on since I first saw them.
Victor's a quiet lad. I don't think I heard him speak for 12 months after I gave him his debut at Crystal Palace. I brought him into the team with Sean Scannell to give us some freshness and pace, soon after I took over. I'd never seen anything like him for his dribbling skills.
We played him wide but he is more dangerous in a free role centrally. Roberto Martinez can now play him there as the penny has dropped and he's working so much harder for the team. Victor was very unlucky to have his headed goal wiped out against Manchester United: that would have been a real collector's item.
Like Victor, Jamie's crossing isn't quite good enough yet for a wide player in the top flight but he makes up for it with so much effort and an eye for goal. I saw him in a pre-season match playing for Plymouth against my Palace team. He ripped Nathaniel Clyne to pieces and I'd never seen Clyney taken to the cleaners. I remembered and when I had the chance to bring some players in at QPR a year later I signed him. Jamie was an important player for us in the Championship-winning season until he suffered a really bad leg break last January. He's shown a great attitude to come back from that. The crowd take to him because of his 100 per cent commitment, and it is great to see him keeping bigger names out of Mark Hughes' starting XI. He's a really good lad. They don't always come out on top so it's good to see this one do so.
He's a throwback in some ways. I found myself on a few occasions asking why he didn't go down in the penalty box when he'd been fouled. He just said: "I don't really know how to, gaffer."
2 Hit the divers where it hurts – with a six-match ban
Unfortunately Jamie is something of a rarity, as we have seen this week, with Manchester United's Ashley Young among the players diving, and Liverpool's Luis Suarez wrongly booked because he has a reputation for doing so.
I still think a six-game retrospective ban for diving will cut it out; fines are no use because money's no problem to Premier League players. I'm always telling my players not to put a foot out because, as Gary Neville said, modern players look for the chance to go down.
I did find it amazing that while Suarez always gets slaughtered, Young didn't get more criticism. He went down with the slightest touch and Lee Mason fell for it. I'd like to know who was the football person on the committee who didn't overturn Shaun Derry's red card. Then Mario Balotelli got off because one of the officials saw his tackle – if that official didn't feel it was a sending off he should have been banned. Poor old Mike Riley, the refs' boss, he would be pulling his hair out if he had any left. It's all contributed to what's probably been as bad a week as we've had for officials. In a job that needs a lot of help, some refs have been fed to the lions by their assistants with some terrible offside decisions hurting clubs such as Wigan and QPR.
3 Martinez is magic ... and I'm backing the Hoops to survive
After his disappointment at Chelsea it was fantastic to see Roberto Martinez's Wigan get maximum points against the champions-elect. They thoroughly deserved it on the night. They and my old club are now favourites to escape. I really fancied QPR strongly on Wednesday as they have the type of players who close teams down and it is difficult for Swansea to play under so much pressure. Last season we beat them 4-0, and earlier this season at Christmas, we got the best of a 1-1 draw in Wales. The suspension of Djibril Cissé may have been a blessing in disguise as it has enabled Mark Hughes to play Mackie and Adel Taarabt at the same time, making his midfield stronger. That should see them through. Today they have a very winnable game against West Bromwich Albion.
4 Jeepers keepers. Nothing is as bad as my time with Blades
I met up with Everton's Phil Jagielka this week and he was really looking forward to this lunchtime's FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool. It's a really big game for both clubs. Winning the trophy could shape the way the successful club progresses for several years.
Liverpool will be playing their third goalkeeper, but Brad Jones has got decent experience and they are not in the dire straits I was eight years ago at Sheffield United. One week we found ourselves without a fit keeper three days before a match at Burnley so we rang round and got two goalies in on loan. We decided to pick whoever performed best in training on the Thursday. One was amazing, stopping everything. His name was Lee Baxter and he was playing in Sweden where his father, Stuart, was a successful manager. We played him. He threw one in to put us behind. We then played really well, went 2-1 up, only for him to throw another one in. Before half-time they scored a penalty to make it 3-2. I pulled Baxter off at half-time and brought on the other keeper, Alan Fettis, a ginger-haired lad from Hull. We didn't concede any more, but we didn't score either so we lost. At the end of the season we missed the play-offs by two points, and Burnley stayed up by two points.
5 Charlie knows his hens – and he'll be rabbiting now
The family have been in Leeds for half-term. They have had a great time with my grandson Charlie. The other night William was showing him a picture book and he pointed at a hen. Charlie chirped up, "cock-a-doodle-do". We all looked at each other as if we didn't believe it, so Will did it again. Charlie again went "cock-a-doodle-do". I imagine he'll be rabbiting on in the next few weeks. When we took Natalie, my eldest daughter, back to the railway station we decided to stop for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. The car park was £4. Sharon said she had loads of change, but it was all 20p pieces. The next minute Amy was feeding a bag full of 20ps into the machine and I'm looking round hoping we don't get spotted. Then she said: "Dad, next time you're fined by the FA why not pay it in 20ps?" I said: "That's not a bad idea, but I don't get fined by the FA any more." "Yeah, right," said William.
William had a session with the academy lads at Leeds. They have a fantastic set-up for kids from six-year-olds onwards. He was there six hours and whenever I looked in the coaching was excellent. They have such patience.
6 Great offer to Snodgrass, but we need other players
I've had a couple of fruitful meetings with the chairman, Ken Bates, this week about next season. When I talk to him it reminds me of all those years ago when he offered me the Chelsea job. He showed me all these plans for Chelsea Village and said "it'll be done in five years". I said to him: "Do you really think I'll still be here in five years?" It all got built and helped Chelsea get where they are now. Ken gets criticised by fans but he has big plans for Leeds and long-term it'll be amazing, but he also realises we need to overhaul the playing squad now to make it successful. He's said he'll do his best to support me in what I want to do.
One development is that we have offered Robert Snodgrass a contract which will make him the best-paid player at the club. I do feel it is important to keep our captain. He's got a year to run but clubs these days can't afford to let a contract run down so I hope he commits for another year. I've told him he'll be in the Premier League at the end of next season whatever happens, as if we don't go up I will make sure that he gets fixed up with a club in the top flight.
He's waiting to see what we do in terms of recruitment and rightly so, but I'm optimistic that we can bring a number of players in as soon as the season ends as we plan for next year. We're at home to Peterborough today and hoping for my first victory at Elland Road since we beat Doncaster Rovers on my first day. Despite that, the support has been fantastic. To a man they all seem to appreciate we need to make changes to the squad. It's great for a manager to get that sort of response from fans and it's why the job is so appealing to me.
7 Give nutcase the boot for upsetting the Boat Race
Why can't we deport that nutter who messed up the Boat Race last weekend? For many of those rowers it was the pinnacle of years of training and for the Oxford crew it was 10 months of work down the pan. As for protesting against elitism, he went to one of the most expensive schools in Australia, then a good university. What's that about pots and kettles?
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