Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

News & Comment

Neil Warnock: No game – but I certainly didn't miss the nerves or sleeping pills

What I Learnt This Week

I was asked this week whether I missed the match on a Saturday. I said: “I didn't miss taking a sleeping tablet on Friday night, I didn't miss that churning stomach Saturday morning and didn't miss those nerves at lunchtime.” It is amazing how you take all those things for granted when you are a manager, all the aggravation that goes with it.

Instead, I did some media work, which was fun and much more relaxing. On Saturday I did Football Focus and Final Score on BBC. When you do that you appreciate how good the presenters are: Dan Walker and Gabby Logan in this case. They make the programme look as if it runs so smoothly. With people like that, and Jeff Stelling on Sky, we are blessed at the moment.

They have earpieces in, and so do some of the guests, but I prefer to play it off the cuff. I'm good at picking up on things. I enjoyed looking at the results and goals coming in without having anything at stake. Totally different to how I normally feel as all the week is geared up to that result on a Saturday.

We watch all the games on a bank of TVs and late on I suddenly found myself shouting at one of the screens. It was Arsenal-Norwich. I just couldn't help myself. I reverted back to the managerial role when I saw Arsenal equalise with a decision by the linesman I could not believe. It was the penalty, given by Mike Jones after linesman Richard West said he saw Kei Kamara tugging Olivier Giroud over. I was shouting at the screen: "That is a disgrace!" I can't believe anyone can give that from 50 yards away when he can't see Giroud is doing the same. A stronger ref would have overruled him. Can you imagine that happening at the other end with Arsenal leading and five minutes to go? No, I can't either. The same linesman couldn't see it was a goal-kick, when he gave a corner leading up to the penalty, and the third goal was obviously offside but he didn't see that either.

As a manager, these decisions live with you. All this week Chris Hughton will have been seething. You go in and see the officials half an hour afterwards and they just say: "We'll have a look on video". You think, "How will that help me?" These decisions have consequences. Norwich could go down because of it. It beggars belief.

One thing I realised about that programme: there are no adverts on BBC, so you are on camera all the time. You have to make sure you go to the toilet first and not drink a lot beforehand!

2. My own fantasy first XI

I went on Sky's Fantasy Football show on Friday with Paul Merson. I had seen Simon Jordan on it a few weeks ago and I wasn't sure it was my cup of tea but the kids said: "Go on, Dad, don't be a bore." I really enjoyed it.

One part was picking a best XI of all the players I've worked with. That was great, though I must have disappointed a few lads.

In goal I had to have Paddy Kenny as he has been around me since I took him from Bradford Park Avenue, though I have had some very good goalkeepers such as Steve Cherry (Notts County), Steve Francis (Huddersfield) and Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace).

Right-back is Nathaniel Clyne, who is now at Southampton, although I have to mention Charlie Palmer, who cost me £12,000 at Notts County and ended up playing in the top flight with me. I discounted Kyle Walker as he was a loan player at QPR, but he would obviously have been in contention. Left-back is Clint Hill, who's now captain at QPR.

Picking the centre-halves was very difficult. I had to go with Craig Short and alongside him Phil Jagielka. I wonder what Craig would be worth in today's market. He's just what Arsenal need. I had Dean Yates alongside Craig at County, he was a tremendous foil with his ability and athleticism.

In midfield on the right Tommy Johnson, who was one of the best finishers I ever had and ended up at Celtic. Wayne Routledge, who was on loan at QPR, was outstanding in that position as well. On the left, Victor Moses, who I am sure we will see a lot of in the next few years. I am so disappointed we didn't make more of an effort to get him to play for England. In the centre Michael Brown, especially for the season at Sheffield United when he scored 23 goals and we got to two cup semi-finals and the play-off final. He was quite exceptional. I'd pair him with Ali Faurlin, even though he's not really featured for anyone else at QPR. He is now on loan in Spain but was by far the best all-round midfielder I have had. Phil Turner and Dean Thomas in my Notts County days also had their qualities in midfield.

I've never really been good at spotting forwards as a manager, but after a lot of thought I decided to go with Andy Booth, who was fabulous in the air. I gave him his debut and if it had not been for a terrible pair of knees I'm sure he would have gone on longer and had an even better career. He was the best header of the ball, though Heidar Helguson was right up alongside him when it comes to being the target. I was pleased to see Heidar get promoted at Cardiff alongside Tommy Smith and Matt Connolly. Malky Mackay obviously listened to me when I told him what good lads they were. I'm pleased for Malky too. I know he has had money but you still have to spend it well.

Alongside Andy I have to go with Adel Taarabt because of the goals he scored and the ability he showed me, even though when you look at what he can't do... it does make you think what a player he would be if he had that desire as well.

When I saw the team I'd come up with I thought it would give most a good game in the modern day.

3. Leeds will push next year

At my old club Leeds, Brian McDermott must be thinking "what a good side I have here" after two wins out of two. I'm sure they will be pushing next season with a few minor adjustments. As I said to him last week: "You'll go a long way to find a better set of lads." I had to smile when someone showed me the programme from Saturday and Chris Dawson was talking about his debut against Derby and he said: "The gaffer said, 'This could be my last match and I want to be the one who gives you your debut'. It was too."

4. Roadside daffodil thief

We were driving down a road with lots of wild daffodils on the verge on the way to Tavistock recently when I saw a woman had stopped her car and was picking them. Everyone was aghast. "Quick, blast your horn dad," said the kids. I said, "No chance", so they opened their windows, Sharon and the kids shouted, "Thief, thief!" I don't know whether she stopped, but I hope she felt ashamed. How selfish.

5. Family matters so much

What was I doing Tuesday night when all the games were on? I found myself sat on a portable seat with a flask of coffee, watching William train, with two ladies whose boys were training too. I kept thinking to myself: "You can't get much further from where I've been the last few years than this."

Not being in work has its pluses. On Wednesday I was able to do something I've not done for years: be present for Amy's birthday. When I saw all those candles (she is 15 going on 25) it made me realise how quickly they grow up and, when in football, how much you miss events in your family because the job is an all-consuming environment.