Neil Warnock: Managers are only after one thing if they’re nice to refs - that vital decision

Warnock's World: If I’d made as many mistakes as you I’d not be reffing

My former sparring partner, and now colleague on BT Sport, Mark Halsey, has been in the news this week with extracts from his book causing a stir. I must admit I’ve never offered a referee a holiday, as Jose Mourinho did Mark, but then, I don’t have a villa in Portugal to loan out, nor, you may not be surprised to hear, did I ever get that close to referees.

I can understand why Mark accepting Jose’s offer has been criticised, but he was having a traumatic period when it occurred with his wife fighting cancer, and Mourinho was not working in England at the time.

There has also been a lot of comment about his exchanges of texts with managers like Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson. I can’t say I ever got to the stage of swapping phone numbers with refs, but I don’t have a problem with managers and referees communicating. I have spoken to refs after games, just to ask about something that had occurred during a game. It’s always been off the record and I’ve never had a ref not answer.

But referees have to remember there is a reason managers are being nice to them – we’re hoping that it just might make the difference when there is a borderline decision. So you try and tell them what they want to hear. I always made a point of going into the meeting where clubs exchange team sheets in the referee’s room myself, not sending an assistant. There were some I just couldn’t bring myself to get on with after so many bad decisions down the years. I remember coming back to the dressing room from the exchange of team sheets before a Crystal Palace match when Rob Styles was reffing and saying, “Sorry, lads, you won’t get much from the ref today.”

It is a fine line between communicating and being too chummy. My players, when I’ve been promoted, have been upset by top-flight refs being mates with opposition players. When Sheffield United came up we’d play Liverpool and the ref is calling Gerrard “Stevie” and Carragher “Jamie”, but not our lads. It was the same when Queen’s Park Rangers came up. But this is nothing new. I took newly promoted Notts County to Old Trafford more than 20 years ago and the ref had a running conversation with “Bryan” [Robson]. At half-time the lads came in and said “Gaffer, what chance have we got here? The ref’s calling them by their first name and us by the number.” There were no names on back of shirts then and the ref clearly had no idea who most of my lads were. It does leave a sour taste in the mouth.

I don’t think it is wrong to have a bit of banter with refs. My Dad would always manage games by talking to players and so did I when I reffed. I can remember when I was playing I had a go at Neil Midgley. He just replied ,“If I’d made as many mistakes as you have I wouldn’t be refereeing next week”. It put me in my place and we become friends over the years. Keith Hackett was another ref I always got on well with, we were both from Sheffield, and I was pleased when he was made head of the referees. I knew it meant I could always get an answer when I enquired about something that had gone on. Phil Dowd’s one who still manages games the old-fashioned way.

In the old days refs would give and take when it came to swearing too, but that’s less common now because they cannot trust players not to make a fuss of it – though I can recall some choice words from Mark when we disagreed with his reffing at Millwall-Leeds last year, too ripe to include in my book. I was ultimately fined for telling my lads not to shake his hand at the end.

Some refs do catch you out. I remember at QPR Shaun Wright-Phillips having a perfectly good goal disallowed that would have put us two up at home to West Brom and on course for a first home win. Albion later equalised but when I complained to the ref at the end he said: “Why don’t you ask your No 11 why he didn’t foul [James] Morrison to stop the attack for their equaliser?” He was right, too. Alejandro Faurlin was one of the best players I have worked with, but I absolutely ripped into him in the dressing room. Not that that stopped me telling the linesman how bad he’d feel when he watched Match of the Day that night.

My diving call

I was still managing Sheffield United when I started calling for players to be banned for six matches for diving and, as regular readers of this column will know, I’ve kept banging the drum. I’m glad other people are now coming round to my way of thinking because it is the only way you’ll stop divers like Ashley Young, who makes Luis Suarez look an angel. Fines can’t hurt players who earn what Young earns – being out of the team will hurt him, and his club.

Welcome back 

So Wayne Rooney is welcomed back at Old Trafford with cheers, Yohan Cabaye is applauded of the pitch by Newcastle fans. All it needs now is for Suarez to get a rapturous reception from Liverpool fans next week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Rebel, rebel: Vivienne Westwood in her baroque-influenced early-Nineties designs
fashionWhy we mustn't take Dame Vivienne Westwood for granted
News
The police have been criticised in a raid on the luxury home of Sir Cliff Richard
people
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin