Neil Warnock: Sadly the lawyers won’t let football books include all the juicy details...

Warnock's World: it must be great to have so much money you can write a book and not worry

What is the toughest job in publishing this year? Being the lawyer who proof-reads Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest autobiography, which is coming out next month. It used to be, when writing a book, that the big question was what to put in, and what to leave out. Football is a relatively small industry and there are times, while you want to be honest, that it is best to pull a few punches. You never know, you might need to work with that person again.

That is still an issue, though less so when you are about to retire from management, as I thought I would be doing when I wrote my autobiography in 2007, and as I knew I would be doing when I wrote The Gaffer, the book on management I published this summer. The same applies to Alex now, though to judge from some of the things he wrote in his last autobiography, when he was still in mid-career, he doesn’t mind upsetting ex-colleagues and players.

But the main check now is legal. When the letter came back from the lawyer who checked the copy in The Gaffer I could not believe the amount of queries. There was an issue with almost every single page, many of which were not even juicy stories. It was not just the risk of libelling someone – there were also, I discovered, copyright problems.

There were several revealing text exchanges I’d had with players, agents, even owners, that I still had on my phone and wanted to publish. I thought it would back up the particular story, add a nice touch of colour and underline what I was dealing with. However, the lawyer explained that while the law on texting was still being established there was a possibility that a judge might rule the sender owned the copyright on the text. So I had to find other ways to tell the tale.

One example was an explosive text I’d received from a player I’d been interested in signing, revealing he needed an operation. But he’d meant to send it to his agent, not me. I was told I definitely could not use that!

Then there were conversations over which, the lawyers said, the other party might have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. So again I had to work around that. Another problem was the confidentiality agreements written into contracts by the clubs that had employed me. That meant another few paragraphs needed careful writing.

 There were also conversations had to be left out because of a lack of witnesses. There was a player at Leeds who told me, in my office, that if another player was selected ahead of him for a match he would refuse to play for me again. I wanted to include that but it was his word against mine, he was still at the club and might sue. It wasn’t worth the risk. But it does make me laugh when I see him kissing the badge.

It could have been worse but for this column. There were a lot of tales which the lawyer queried and I was able to show they were already in the public domain as I had mentioned them in this column, and The Independent had not been sued. It seems newspaper lawyers are less cautious than book lawyers, but given what it must cost to pulp a warehouse full of books I guess that’s not surprising. Plus, although newspapers now exist forever on the internet there is an air of permanence about books that makes people more sensitive as to what is written in them. It was also pointed out that I could be personally liable, which made it easier to agree when the lawyer was adamant.

Not that any of that seems to have stopped Zlatan Ibrahimovic from revealing everything, from what I’ve heard about his book. It must be great to have so much money you can write a book and not worry about the possible legal costs.

I’ve written three books. At Plymouth I wrote Neil Warnock’s Wembley Way, a one-year diary, to show people what being a manager was like. I got lucky as the year ended with us winning promotion through the play-offs at Wembley. That helped, though we didn’t sell them all, as I found when I opened a cupboard in William’s room the other day and found two boxes with 50 copies each in them. I donated them to Argyle’s academy and did a signing session.

Made in Sheffield, my autobiography, had a less happy ending, with Sheffield United being relegated. I’d written it as I thought I’d be packing in and wanted to set the record straight on a few issues. I told a few truths there and don’t suppose Stan Ternent or Gary Megson was bought a copy for Christmas. 

As it happened I didn’t want to leave football on such a downbeat note so went back into it at Crystal Palace, then QPR and Leeds. It was the variety of experiences I had at those clubs, with administration, multiple owners, foreign players and so on, that made me write The Gaffer. As I said in the introduction, when my grandchildren are older and ask me what I did as a manager, I’ll be able to hand them a copy and say, “read this”. It is a serious book about the problems facing managers which is why we – the publishers and I – turned down serialisation as we didn’t wanted it taken out of context and made to look a sensationalist book. Sales are going well; I’m told we’ve sold a surprising amount as digital downloads (though I have no idea how that works). There is also an audio version, which I did myself. It took three long days in a recording studio but after hearing the demo tape made by the actor – who had a Lancashire accent! – I realised I had to do it.

It’ll be interesting reading Alex’s book. Money won’t be the driving force for him; he’ll want to put the record straight on a number of issues he’s not been able to do until now. A lot of people will be fascinated by how his mind ticks, and his views on both his successes and his failures.

I can see Roy’s point of view, as well as the fans’

As a manager I can understand Roy Hodgson being upset at some of the criticism England received after their goalless draw in Ukraine, but as a pundit and a fan I can understand why people criticised.  If you’re in Roy’s shoes it was a great point. The lads gave everything, they fought like hell to the last kick and restricted Ukraine to few opportunities. It was a good job done and now there’s two home matches to finish it off. Most people would have taken that at the start of qualification.

But as a fan it was just another dull night watching England. I’ve not enjoyed watching England for a long time, since well before Roy took over. I want to see crosses and shots, action round the box, but you don’t seem to get much of that at international level. It did make me laugh when they started going on about Frank Lampard having an opportunity in the last minute, from a long throw by Kyle Walker, flicked on by Rickie Lambert, and Frank running in to head it. We’ve been lambasting Stoke City for five years for their long throws, yet with all those top players in the team our only chance comes from one.

While on international football, I have a recommendation for the next management team for the Republic of Ireland: Roy Keane as gaffer, Mick McCarthy as his assistant. I do have a warped sense of humour sometimes.

If there’s a good time to play United, this is it

I’m tearing myself away from watching the kids play sport (William, playing scrum-half, scored four tries and two conversions this week) to cover Manchester United v Crystal Palace for BT Sport today. My heart hopes Palace can pull off a shock but my head says they have no chance. Well, almost no chance. International week is as good a time to play clubs like Manchester United as any. On Tuesday Antonio Valencia played in Bolivia, Shinji Kagawa in Japan and a host of players in Europe. Nani was playing in Brazil on Wednesday. I wonder when he got back.

voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn