Neil Warnock: My lads can't stop hitting the target...at paintballing
What I Learnt This Week
It seems there's nothing wrong with my players' shooting, not to judge from the bruises covering the legs of Paul Roberts, our football liaison officer.
Paul seems to have borne the brunt of some impressive accuracy from my players at last week's paintballing expedition, even if I gather some of them were at very close range.
It's a long season and it is good to do something every now and again to break up the routine and enhance team bonding. In the past I've taken teams to the seaside, been sledging and gone horse racing. I can recall a day crown green bowling – "oop north", obviously. There's even been the occasional night with an alcoholic beverage or two and an Indian or Chinese meal. This time I offered the lads a choice of clay-pigeon shooting or paintballing. Given some of the players we have I was quite glad they decided against the clay-pigeon shooting.
I did think about going along myself, Sharon said I should, but when I saw Paul's bruises I knew I'd made the right decision because I think I'd have been a target. Adel [Taraabt] was away with Morocco, I'm not sure what he would have made of it.
As well as Adel, Jamie Mackie was away having been called up for Scotland. He was due to play for them in Cyprus last night. I'm so delighted for him. He's worked so hard to get back from that terrible injury and he's really been buzzing since he came back from his injury.
The break also gives our injured players a chance to get nearer fitness. Kieron Dyer and Matt Connolly have both started running and should be back training with the squad in the next couple of weeks. It's about time they both had a bit of luck. I do feel jealous looking at a Newcastle team that has hardly changed its defence all season. It doesn't half help having a settled back line, but I know everyone has to suffer injuries at some stage in the season.
2. City loss still hurts but Asia trip is just Grand
The lads not away on international duty have been given this weekend off. It's good for them to have a break from the same voices shouting at them all season. They deserve a break after their efforts last weekend against Manchester City. We were obviously disappointed to get nothing out of our game against the champions-elect because we gave it a real go. It's probably the best game of football we've been involved in since I've been here when you take into account the quality of the opposition. While I accept City have got some fantastic players, with David Silva the best of them, I did think we let ourselves down with the defensive mistakes we made for their goals. That made it more disappointing to come out of the game without a point.
There's no weekend off for me though. I'm currently in Asia having flown out to have a look at a player yesterday. Typical of my luck he played in a different position to the one I wanted to see him in. All this way and I can't judge him properly! Today I'm going to fly to Abu Dhabi for tomorrow's Grand Prix. Our chairman, Tony Fernandes, owns team Lotus (who are now to be called Caterham). He brought his back-room staff to one of our games and it was great having a laugh with them, so it'll be good to see them in their working environment.
3. Capello should take on Spain with his first XI
It looks to me that we have already made our excuses for this evening's international against Spain by saying that we are going to give one or two youngsters an opportunity. While I am a massive fan of giving the kids a chance, I don't think the time is right, with both teams gearing up for the European Championship, and certainly not against the best team in the world. We can experiment against Sweden on Tuesday. Against a team like Spain we should have played the first XI, including Wayne Rooney. At worst it would have given us a look at how far away we are, and we could have given them a run for their money. It looks as if Fabio's scared of playing his full team as the consequence of a bad defeat would be damaging. However, I always think the team look frightened by the expectation at Wembley, but against Spain there is no expectation so they would have played with more freedom. It's an opportunity lost.
4. At least Fifa finally saw sense over poppy debacle
At least we'll be wearing the poppy, albeit on an armband. Thank goodness common sense prevailed, to some extent. They really are out of touch at Fifa when it comes to anything like this. There's no way it would upset anybody, even German politicians said no one in their country was bothered. Why Fifa were so adamant, goodness knows.
I always feel when we have that minute's silence at this time of year that it is a good thing to remember everyone who fought for their country, and the sacrifice all those young men made. And they are still putting their lives at risk for Britain.
My Dad wasn't in the forces. As a steelworker he was required to stay in industry, but I can remember him telling us about being in the factory and hearing the sirens go off. They would all head for the shelter with the anti-aircraft guns firing away and the German bombers trying to blow up the steelworks. We used to play with his gasmask as kids. We'd go up to the air-raid shelter at the top of our garden when a plane came over and pretend it was for real. Thank goodness it wasn't.
5. Shock over St James' but don't rule it out elsewhere
It's going to seem strange playing Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena. I can't fault what Mike Ashley's done there with the finances, and Alan Pardew is doing a brilliant job with the team. If this can generate money to reinvest then they should do even better, but it doesn't seem quite right and I hope they get a sponsor quickly.
Still, everyone's doing it. At Sheffield United I figured it was only a matter of time before Bramall Lane was renamed after a Chinese company, because the club became so involved with China. Fortunately, it never got that far. It wouldn't surprise me now, with the QPR chairman owning Air Asia and Air Malaysia, if something happened with Loftus Road. The Premier League gets such coverage in that part of the world it must be tempting. I know it's not traditional, but if the extra funds enable us to stay up I'm sure most fans would understand. I must add, I don't know of any plans, I only mention it because of Newcastle.
6. Music from Mister Ed is a complete turn-off
I was listening to some music with Amy last week and I said, "this is a nice tune". She told me it was by someone called Ed Sheeran. Then I heard a few of the words, and I said to her: "What's he singing about?" She said: "You don't want to hear." But I pressed her so she told me: "This song is about a prostitute who's taking drugs and there's all these blokes." I said to her: "You're only 13." She said: "Dad, everyone listens to this sort of music." They do, too. On Monday I had a work-out in the gym at the training ground. It was late in the afternoon, there was only a young lad there with me. There was some music on the TV. Every other word began with F. I told the lad to turn it off.
William's playing in the rugby A team today so I'll be thinking of him. I hope he plays well and keeps out of trouble. And I have news of Elvis, our chameleon. He's just shed all his skin and looks in top condition. We thought about getting him a female companion, but when we were told he's likely to eat her, we decided we'd better not.
7. There's no need for me to make a Twit of myself
The lads have been trying to get me on Twitter. I don't see the point. I can assure you I'm not on it, and I'm not planning to be on it. If there's anyone claiming to be me, they're a fake.
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