Neil Warnock: Now this is how to celebrate a win over the Gunners – a nice cup of tea

What I Learnt This Week
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The Independent Online

Everyone's telling me how good Arsenal's kids are. Well, we beat them last week, 7-6. OK, it was at under-nine level, which is eight-a-side, but it still meant a lot to my lad William, who was making his Crystal Palace debut.

It may not be the Premier League but people take these matches seriously. The U11s and U13s also played: the U11s lost but the U13s, having been losing, scored two late goals to win. I looked across and all I could see were parents running down the touchline like aircraft with their arms out wide. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

I was impressed with the facilities but had to laugh when I had to pay 50p for a cup of tea and one of the Arsenal staff saw me and apologised. I said, "Don't worry, you only made £37m profit last year, I expected to pay for my tea."

To celebrate William's win we stopped off at Greenwich and had a super seafood dish at the Beachcomber Cafe. But that wasn't the highlight. The kids were all playing that trick with putting spoons on their noses, making them hang down. I expect you've all tried it. Sharon couldn't do it no matter how hard she tried, so they kept pestering me. I'm glad to say I was successful. We were sitting at the window seat and a number of people looked in. I think they just saw a middle-aged gentleman with a spoon hanging down from his nose, but if you looked in and wondered, yes, it was me.

2. Train causes pain – like the 'X Factor' twins

It's been a big musical week, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but more of those twins later. On Monday night the whole family went to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Gilbert O'Sullivan. I think Amy thought she was going to a Gilbert and Sullivan opera while poor William, having trained at football for three hours during the day, was fast asleep by half eight. But they still enjoyed it.

On Wednesday Sharon and me were back at the Albert Hall, but without the kids, to see Diana Krall. She's a very talented young lady and it was an enjoyable night, until we got the train home. Sharon said platform five, so we rushed down and got on the train. When it left 10 minutes early we feared the worst, but it was going relatively close to home so I didn't make too much of a fuss. But at the third station down – Peckham Rye, I think – a group of young lads pulled the cord and scarpered. We were stood there for about 15 minutes while the driver sorted it out. You can imagine how pleased I was.

Our melodious week had kicked off with X Factor. I voted for the three girls who were kicked out, Miss Frank. They were superb I watched these two twins, people have to be taking the mickey voting for them. I can't imagine what Simon Cowell will do if they win. But the kids love them.

3. Tannoy blunder was funny but annoying

You've probably heard by now about our technical malfunction at Selhurst Park on Saturday. If you've not, the guy on the public address flicked a switch at the wrong moment and the club radio was broadcast across the Tannoy. Unfortunately it was during a rumpus by the dugouts and the commentator was just saying, about the Nottingham Forest manager, "It looks like Billy Davies is throwing his toys out of his pram". I didn't actually hear it myself, it was a bit heated on the touchline at the time, but when I heard I did think it was funny, and I agreed. But we've apologised.

I was a little bit peeved because the last two weekends the controversy around our matches has obscured the fact we've played very well. We'll have to keep that up because now comes our hardest week of season. Today we're at Preston, who are formidable at home, followed by four-goals-a-game QPR on Tuesday, then Gordon Strachan's first away game on Saturday. What a challenge.

Today should bring back painful memories for Mick Jones, my assistant. When he was managing Halifax the club were so hard up he did a sponsored walk over the Pennines, from Halifax to Preston, on a Friday before a game at Deepdale. Mick tells me it took 12 hours 15 minutes. It's only 50-odd miles, but it is a bit hilly. Halifax won, which must have helped soothe his aches. It must have been a long time ago, he couldn't walk for 12 minutes now the way his ankles are.

4. How I scared Amy's friends' parents

Amy had her Halloween party earlier this week as I'll be coming back from Preston tonight. She told me I had to be involved. I said, "Get me an outfit". Little did I know what they had in store. I know there will be people reading this saying I don't need to get dressed up to frighten them, but it helps. When the cars pulled up and I jumped out from behind the hedge even some of the parents were a bit nervous. I quite liked it. There's a few people I'd be tempted to come back and haunt looking like this.

5. Well done, Chris – you deserve this chance

I'm delighted for Chris Hughton that he's finally been made permanent manager at Newcastle. I think he is a super guy and he deserves the opportunity after the start that they have made. If anything it will make the job slightly more difficult now he is the full-time manager because it is his team. When you are caretaker you do get away with a bit. But he has one of the best squads in the division so there's no reason why he should not go into the Premier League.

I wasn't so sure about Newcastle's other announcement. The financial situation means everyone changes the name of the ground but it seems dangerous announcing that to Geordies at this time. Maybe a travel company will sponsor them, and use "H'way the lads" as their motto.

The other appointment this week was not the best kept secret, Gordon going to Middlesbrough. I'm sure Gordon feels he has a great chance, given a four-year contract and the working environment Steve Gibson has created. It's great to see Gordon back involved, though I also read the change in management means Gareth Southgate will get my job. But I'm sure Gareth doesn't want to rush straight back into a job just yet.

6. Real suffer bitter taste of Polo formation

Maybe the biggest football story this week was abroad, Real Madrid losing to a team no one had ever heard of. It makes me laugh when I think of all the money Real have spent, and yet they have forgotten the first rule in management – get your back four and goalie sorted out before all else. Their team reminds me of when Ossie Ardiles managed Spurs and had what one journalist called the Polo formation, because it had a hole in the middle. I'm still looking forward to seeing Real in the knockout stages in Europe, if they get through.

Back home, Liverpool's win was not a surprise for anyone who read the column last week: didn't I say "beware the wounded animal"? In fact, Alex Ferguson used almost the same words after the game. Nice to know you're reading, Alex.

7. Martinez retraction no surprise to me

I had a laugh when Roberto Martinez ruffled a few feathers saying all that stuff about the FA being scared of Alex and some managers being his "loyalists". And I wasn't at all surprised to see he quickly denied saying anything of the sort. Of course he didn't.

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