Neil Warnock: Palace shirts went down a treat in Uganda even with the united front
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 31 January 2009
Football is so big now clubs, and managers, get that many begging letters from every walk of life. Some clubs have set up whole departments to organise their charity work.
Every letter starts by saying, "I know you probably get loads of letters like this...". We do, and it is impossible to help everyone out. I've already tended to support Multiple Sclerosis charities because my mum suffered from it, and also we use the oxygen tent in a local MS centre.
Sometimes a letter catches your eye. A Palace fan recently got in touch with me who was involved with a hospital in Uganda called the Kiwoko Hospital. I had a chat and arranged for them to pick up some spare kits.
Recently he sent me the accompanying photograph. It's great to see all those smiling faces, though I feel sorry for the two lads who have to wear Manchester United kit. They must be the ones who have had a duff training session.
We are in a privileged position and it is nice to do something positive with that. It also gives you a bit of perspective after a bad week of results. Have a look at http://www.fokh.org.uk/
2. Pressure is on to get back on victory trail
It has been a disastrous week, losing 4-3 at Watford in the FA Cup followed by local rivals Charlton beating us 1-0 on Tuesday. This is the time as a manager when you have to regroup, and get back to basics. The only upside is you learn more about yourself and your team when things are not going so well.
It is only two weeks since I could not see us losing a game. We've now lost three on the trot. It shows how fragile football is. The constant pressure is there at any level. Look at the Premier League. There is pressure on Liverpool to revitalise their push, on Arsenal to get in the top four, let alone win the league, and at the other end no-one from Hull downwards will be sitting comfortably. It is so tight. West Brom are bottom but two wins and their fans will be talking about Europe. They play Hull and Newcastle next, so who is to say they can't? Most people wrote them off months ago but you can't write anybody off.
At both games last week we had 4,000 fans backing us. With a following like that it makes you more determined to turn the corner to give them something to shout about.
3. Shouting can be bad for your teeth
You would be surprised the distractions managers can face during a game. I've had some work on my teeth in preparation for getting a new bridge – no, it is not as big as the Humber. On Monday I had to have a temporary bridge fitted. So you can imagine my horror when, at half-five on Tuesday, as I was about to leave for The Valley, it dropped out as I was cleaning my teeth. I stuck it back in and took my place on the bench but within five minutes I was shouting at Shefki Kuqi and it landed in the mud a yard in front of me. I had to wait for the ball to go down the other end before picking it up and trying again. After losing it three times I decided to shout without it for the rest of the first half. At half-time the physios stuck it back with chewing gum and all sorts which seemed to do the job. Now I carry a tube of glue.
We had Stuart Atwell refereeing on Tuesday, the young ref made notorious by the ghost goal at Watford-Reading. In comparison with some we've had of late, he was excellent.
4. Misquoted again and it still bugs me
On the morning of the Charlton match I picked up the Daily Mirror, which is never very complimentary to me, and saw the headline, "Warnock: 'Curbs must carry the can'." Anyone reading that would think I blame Alan Curbishley for Charlton's current plight although he left three years ago with the team mid-table in the Premier League. Curbs obviously did, as his agent rang me to complain. I explained I'd been doing press and the conversation got round to how teams can go on a long run without winning. Someone said Curbs didn't have a great time in his last 15 games. I said, "Well, yes, he did have a nightmare towards the end but fans remember the good times." I should be used to it but it still bugs me when I read a misleading headline. How can Alan Curbishley be blamed for their current situation? My favourite saying about journalists is they never let the facts get in the way of the story.
5. Shouting can be good for your kids
What do managers do on a run like this? For me relaxation, of sorts, came on Wednesday afternoon when I shot off to watch an under-eights game. It was 0-0 with five minutes to go with parents on opposite sides screaming at the teams when one of the opponents smashed in an own goal from 15-20 yards. In the next attack William picked it up, dropped a shoulder, and blasted it into the left-hand corner. Sharon and me were jumping up doing high fives. One of the parents said, "Calm down". It just brought home to me the the highs and lows, the pride I could see in him, why everyone loves the game.
6. It's great being messy when the wife's away
Aside from the results it has been a good week. Amy and Mum are away so William and me have had some "boys' days". We've been to the movies to see a fantastic film called Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The homework's been done in a matter of minutes and there are clothes everywhere. It's lovely to leave everything lying around and not be told off. We are doing what we want until tomorrow. Then we have to tidy up.
7. Window is two more days of worry for me
I don't know whose idea it was to move the transfer window deadline to Monday. It's just another two days' nightmare. So far we've not been involved much, the main deal was selling Ben Watson to Wigan for £2m. It is a shame to lose him but it was a fair price.
I have taken a young striker called Rui Fonte on loan from Arsenal for a month. He's the younger brother of our centre-half, Jose, who asked me to have a look at him. It'll be interesting to see how he goes, though when I went to watch him in Arsenal's reserves he had the brightest boots ever, and gloves. I said to Jose, "I can't be doing with that". He said, "I know. I've told him." It could be worse, he could be a centre-half.
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