Neil Warnock: My fingers prove season is coming to nailbiting part

What I Learnt This Week

The Championship is really hotting up, and although we have only an outside chance of getting into the play-offs I realised how tense things have been in the last few weeks when I looked down at my nails.

Nearly every one of them is hacked and nibbled. Another indication that the season is coming to a climax is that our last two games have concluded with Ian Holloway and Darren Ferguson going ballistic and me being the one calming them down. Ian is an experienced manager and Darren one of the younger ones, but I love the fact both are so passionate.

I was as disappointed as either man as we had chances to win both games ourselves. But there are still plenty of points to go for and, unlike the Premier League, the Championship will be going to the final day. We play another derby today, against Huddersfield. It’s our fifth game in 14 days and, as I write this, I’ve no idea what our team is. We’ve had six games with an unchanged XI but, after Tuesday, the physio’s room is like Emergency Ward 10. But that’s what management is about. You lose a player, then someone comes in and surprises you.

Elland Road should be a sea of white today as the club have a promotion enabling everyone with a ticket to buy a first-team shirt for a tenner. It’s the latest of a series of offers which have led to some very good gates. We had 25,000 for Blackpool and 24,000 for Peterborough, yet one paper said it was a “sparse crowd”! Having that support really can make a difference to the team.

In the match at Huddersfield earlier this season Adam Clayton, who I let go in the summer, scored for them, then ran towards the dugout to celebrate. I didn’t think anything of it at the time until the press made an issue of it afterwards. They asked me what I felt about it. I said I’d have loved to have done the same to every manager who released me, so I wasn’t going to knock it. Still, I hope he doesn’t do it today as it’ll mean we’ve conceded.

2. Gunning for Arteta

Watching Arsenal in midweek I did feel for Arsène Wenger. It was great to see Arsenal play so well and put themselves in with a chance, then you get an experienced player like Mikel Arteta giving away silly free-kicks in the last minutes. Arsène must have been infuriated. To do it once is bad enough, twice is unforgivable. You know the opposition are laughing at you. He also took the worst free-kick there’s been. Arsenal’s last chance to get the ball in the box and he overhit it.

Sometimes players do make you despair. There was also Olivier Giroud trying to score from a 40-yard volley when off-balance. When one of my players does that I always say out loud, “In your dreams” because they only go in when you are dreaming. On the plus side, I thought Arsenal defended superbly, with Carl Jenkinson outstanding.

3. Sad life of Brian

How disappointing it was to see Brian McDermott leave his position, especially with such a short time left to the end of season. I know what he feels like and it doesn’t half hurt. You look back at incidents in the season and ask, “Why? Why? Why?” You wake up in the night and it is on your mind. Then in the morning it is the first thing you think of. It is almost impossible to set aside and, having loved the club like he has for so many years, Brian will find it even harder.

I sent Brian a text, but I’m not sure if he got it as the screen is smashed on my iPhone and I had to send it off for repair. I’ve put the SIM card in an old phone but it seems all the numbers I need must be in the phone memory. It makes you wonder how we ever got by without phones, though from what I can remember we were happy enough. I can remember running down the road with four pennies to a telephone box to ring my grandma up. It was all you knew.

Incidentally, the screen wasn’t smashed because I threw it at somebody who’d missed an open goal. It was a pure accident. It was already cracked, then I dropped it in the dressing room.

4. Jackett looks good

I was delighted for Kenny Jackett to get through to Wembley in the FA Cup. If anyone deserves a day like that it is Kenny, but knowing him he won’t be treating it as just a day out. Millwall will be well organised and looking to give Wigan a run for their money. Their goalscorer Danny Shittu played for me at QPR. He’s a super gentleman, but even he has his moments. When we beat them recently at Elland Road I went towards him at the end of the game to shake hands but he had a big sulk on and he just headed for the tunnel.

Kenny’s joy meant disappointment for Blackburn’s Michael Appleton, and I had sympathy for him. But he’s young and talented and will have many more chances.

5. Boxing clever

Another of my old players, Curtis Woodhouse, made headlines this week when he decided to visit someone who had been abusing him on Twitter. The troll soon backtracked. I take my hat off to him. How many other people would like to do that? The trouble with most celebrities is they’d be knocking on doors in every road in the country, the amount of abuse they get. Curtis was a good lad, though I did have to get him out of one or two scrapes when he went home to Goole at weekends, so I wasn’t too surprised when he took up boxing. It’s been good for him and he’s been good at it. I’ve watched a few of his fights and enjoyed them.

He’s taken it really seriously, which I guess you have to or you get hurt.

6. Screen memories

Watching the cricket this week, I began to nod off, so I thought, “It’s time to get to bed”. But Nick Compton had 46 so I decided to stop up until his 50. The next thing I knew I looked at the TV and he was 76 not out. It reminded me of when I was a kid, when TV was new. We would watch all night, then wake up with a white dot in the middle of the screen. How many readers remember that? There was a noise which would wake you up. Now there’s 125 channels on all night, which is why you go to bed early.

It is hilarious that Australia banned four players for not handing their essays in. If that is the coach making a statement, they need better communication between him and the players. It can’t be good for morale, but being Australia, who cares?

7. Broken dreams

I went to Scarborough on Thursday for a Leeds On The Road night, talking to 250 fans from the local supporters’ branch. Scarborough is close to my heart, having got promotion there in 1987, but while it is always good to go back it was heartbreaking driving past the old Seamer Road ground on the way in. It’s just mud and rubble now. It is so sad.

8. William the brave

William enjoyed a 5-2 win at hockey this week but it has been unusually cold for Cornwall and he’s picked up a hamstring injury, which forced him to miss his football training. He’s desperate to be fit as quick as possible – that is what kids are like.

9. Impossible ending

I heard something this week which made me smile. “Every team could use someone who knows how to play in every position, never misplaces a pass or makes a mistake. The only problem is, it’s hard to make him put down his hot dog and come down from the stand... or he already has a career in journalism.”

My own fitness test

“Whatever you do, don’t put that picture in your column,” said my wife this week. Sorry, Sharon, but it’s in a good cause.

As you can see, I’ve been to hospital, but it was nothing to worry about. Like everyone turning 65 I had been offered an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. The aorta is the main blood vessel and, apparently, 6,000 people a year die of ruptures, but screening can pick the danger up. So off I went to Otley’s Wharfdale General Hospital.

People criticise hospitals, but I can’t speak highly enough of my experience – everything went like clockwork. I did get preferential treatment. Suzie Clark, who was looking after me, warmed the gel before it went on my tummy. I said to her: “If it is someone you don’t like I bet you don’t do that.” When I was a chiropodist after my playing days, some procedures could be painful. Occasionally there would be a patient who I didn’t like very much, so I would not take quite so much care over not hurting them.

I’m pleased to report I was given the all-clear, which was a great relief because you do fear the worst as you get older. I’d recommend the screening to anyone. It’s quick, painless, and it might save your life.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there