Neil Warnock: Rafa Benitez claims he wasn't hurt but that reception was uniquely hostile
What I Learnt This Week: It’s obvious Chelsea fans are not going to forgive Benitez for past comments
A couple of times I've arrived at a club to a muted welcome, and after a while at Bury the fans made it clear they wanted me out, but I've never experienced a reception like the one Rafa Benitez received at Chelsea last weekend. In fact, I think it must be unique.
I don't think Roman Abramovich appreciated the depth of Chelsea supporters' feelings. It is obvious to everyone in the country that they are not going to forgive Rafa for comments he's made in the past.
A friend of mine who went to the game said it was much worse than the coverage on TV suggested, really loud and hostile all the way around. I know Rafa is saying it doesn't hurt but I'll tell you, when you have just joined a club you don't want the fans against you like that. I'm sure he couldn't have enjoyed it at all and an atmosphere like that is going to make it more difficult for the players. But from Benitez's point of view he has to be thinking it is worth all the hassle to get a job which is one of the best in the country. He is working with a squad as good as any in the country and that sort of opportunity does not come too often.
I'm sure one of the selling points of Rafa is that he knows how to get the best out of Roman Abramovich's favourite player and it will be interesting to see how Fernando Torres gets on. I hope it takes a few weeks to get him back to his best as we play them on 19 December! I'm expecting Rafa to play a strong team as he'll be wanting to win the League Cup to enhance his chances of a longer contract.
The other new manager, Harry Redknapp, will get a much warmer welcome at Loftus Road today. He made a good start at my old club with that draw at Sunderland – away points have been hard to come by for them – and today's game against Aston Villa gives him a real opportunity to pick up that first win. It can be a very intimidating ground when the fans are rocking behind the team and manager and I think Rangers can get the result.
2. New men give us a lift
What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday morning we'd not won in seven and I was wondering where the next point or goal was coming from, a feeling all managers have had. Then I managed to sign two new players and we beat possibly the best two teams in the league in the space of four days: Crystal Palace and Leicester City. It was hard work getting Alan Tate and Jerome Thomas in but the results show what a lift new players can provide.
It's an early start for us today, a 12.30 kick-off for our Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield. We'd better get used to it as the police have moved four of our home games to 12.30 – against Cardiff, Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday and the return with Huddersfield. I think we'll be playing at breakfast time soon - Eamonn Holmes could commentate.
I do think, in these high-profile games, early kick-offs make sense. It makes preparation a little more difficult for the players, as they have to get up earlier to have their pre-match meal earlier, but personally it is better for me as I don't have to think about the game so much; I'm up and off. With a 3pm kick-off the worst time is 10.30am to 1pm; that is when I get the nerves, and I don't eat from 10am to 6pm. I just can't. An early kick-off eliminates all that.
I've been looking forward to going back to Huddersfield. I was manager when the club moved from Leeds Road to the new stadium and it contributed to us getting promotion. The previous season I would take potential signings along there, we'd sit at the back of the half-built stand with our hard hats on and I'd tell them: "How would you like to play here?" Then when it opened the average crowd went up 100 per cent. A lot of the old-timers had said, 'It'll never be the same as Leeds Road", but the design was lovely, the facilities were great, and we had lots more women and children coming. It showed me new grounds were the way forward.
A number of the admin staff are still there from my day, which says a lot about the club. Town have done brilliant this year; they really pushed the boat out to give it their best shot and they are above us and doing well.
I'll be hoping for a win bonus to go towards my latest FA fine. I still can't believe how me telling a player not to shake the ref's hand warrants an FA charge and £2,000 fine. Surely I'm entitled to tell my players that?
I would have expected better from a referee of Mark Halsey's standing than to make such a fuss.
3. A great sporting year
What an outstanding line-up for Sports Personality of the Year. Bradley Wiggins is favourite but there are so many other good contenders. For such a small island it's been a year of great sporting achievement. It shows the standard when you think Greg Rusedski won it after being runner-up in the US Open – Andy Murray not only won in New York, he also got Olympic gold, but he might not be in the top three.
Talking of television, on Tuesday night, after watching the Champions League games, I'll be turning over to ITV 4 to watch a programme about Fabrice Muamba which is part of a series called Sports Life Stories. I'm told it is well worth watching. Tune in at 10pm.
4. KP in Cook's recipe
I'm also looking forward to watching the cricket when the next Test starts in India. The last one proved there really is no substitute for talent. Watching Kevin Pietersen against the spinners was like watching a living work of art. It has got to be one of the best innings ever played to win a Test in the subcontinent. I'm a massive fan of Captain Cook, if you'll excuse the pun. I think he will be our captain for years to come. Cook showed his suitability for the job by bringing back KP. It was the right thing to do. We need players like that, it is up to the captain and coach to handle him within the team environment.
5. At least the hens laid
Sharon's had a bad week. She wants me to tell you all when you watch that John Lewis advert in which that snowman walks miles to find the perfect present for his snow-woman, the true meaning of the ad is that if you want something from John Lewis go and get it, don't order off the internet.
She stayed in all day this week waiting for a delivery which never came. She rang the call centre to be told it would definitely come the following day, but they still couldn't guarantee a time. So the next night can you imagine the smoke coming out of her ears as 6pm came and went?
Amy went to a party last weekend and the following morning she couldn't move her legs as she had been dancing so long. Unfortunately she then had to run for the bus home. Now she has blisters everywhere. It might have something to do with her shoes.
The only pieces of good news are that the hens must like the wind and rain – they've laid seven eggs this week – and William's school team won their first rugby game this term. It was also the final game of term so it was a momentous occasion. You know the saying, "you're only as good as your last game" – so they can say they're winners.
6. Now I'm 64
It's my birthday today. I've already had my first present from my grandson Charlie, who is two in a couple of weeks. He insisted on helping Grandpa rip the package open and we uncovered a lovely mug with his handprints on them in psychedelic paint, which I'm assured he did all on his own.
I also received a five-disc Tamla Motown set which the lads will be hearing over the next few weeks when doing their workout after training, as when I do my workout I always put my own music on. You can see some of the young ones wince.
I remember when I was younger I used to sing that Beatles song, "When I'm 64", and think that's light years away for me – I was 18 when it came out. Now here I am.
No wonder you don't celebrate birthdays after a certain age. I was asked at the press conference what I wanted. I think they all expected me to say "three points", but all I want is good health and happiness. They are the most important things now.
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