Neil Warnock: Snowy away games can drift into trouble – I had a close shave when I played for Crewe

What I Learnt This Week
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The Independent Online

I learnt the hard way not to take risks driving in the snow, so though it was disappointing that today's match at Hull City has been called off I've no complaints. It may mean we have a fixture problem later in the season but I'd rather that than have my players and staff, and the fans of both clubs, taking unnecessary risks.

My last League club as a player was Crewe Alexandra. I was living in Sheffield at the time and I really enjoyed making the beautiful, scenic journey to Crewe over the Peak District. But that was in the summer. Come winter it was a different matter. There were even lights set up at the bottom of the hill to warn people if the road ahead was closed, but the farmers I'd chat to when I stopped for a sandwich in the High Peak said in reality it was always passable. Maybe it was in a tractor, but I was in an Austin A30 the night I set off home, having travelled across for a game that was then postponed because of snow.

The lights were flashing, but I ignored them. The farmers had local knowledge after all. There was only an inch of snow. Ten minutes nearer Buxton it was six inches. Then we hit the drifts. I blasted through the first few, but soon they were three-to-four foot high. By then we – I had a team-mate on board – were getting worried. We weren't exactly prepared. Never mind blankets and spades, we didn't even have a flask of coffee between us. Then we hit a 10-foot bank of snow. There was no busting through that.

We didn't know where we were by then – it turned out we were less than a couple of miles from Buxton – and as we were also short of petrol we couldn't even sit it out with the heater on. I turned round, very cautiously as I was terrified of slipping off the road, and we drove back. The drifts were deeper than on the way up but we forced our way through to the flashing lights.

The journey to Hull wouldn't have been quite as treacherous as that, but it's better to be safe than sorry. We'd already had to change our plans. We intended to go by coach yesterday morning and stop off in Doncaster to train. But all the useable facilities were booked up, so we decided to have a session at our place, get the train to Doncaster then – as the trains weren't running from there to Hull, do the last bit by coach. As it is we had a light session at our place, then I gave the lads the weekend off. This afternoon I'll probably be sledging in Richmond Park

I expect Shaun Derry will be the most disappointed. He lives in Kent and had trouble even getting out of his driveway. To make sure he could get to training, and to Hull, we put him up in a hotel at Heathrow for a couple of nights. It turns out he could have stayed at home.



2. My Rangers players brush up on their sledging skills

It is ridiculous the way the country grinds to a halt with a few inches of snow. They don't have these problems in Germany, or Scandinavia. Schools closed, trains cancelled, even airports shut. It's not as if it was a surprise this time, they've been warning us for a week we had a cold snap coming.

Fortunately the snow hadn't proved too disruptive to us until today. Until Tuesday our training ground escaped the snow and Wednesday was a day off. Thursday there was a couple of inches so we trained on top of the snow. It does limit what you can do but we had some fun, as you can see, as I took a couple of sledges in. There were a few snowballs flying about, too.



3. Kids of today? They've got no bottle

We got a text from school the day the snow came down. Will was thrilled, until we read it out. "School remains open". He were gutted.

You do get the feeling today that kids are spoilt. I took Will to school in my car, but he complained the seats weren't heated. So Sharon came out with a hot-water bottle for him to sit on. When I were a lad we didn't even have central heating in the house, just a coal fire, and that weren't much use to you in the outside toilet.

Then as we're driving along a song comes on the radio – I'm listening to Capital now in the mornings – and Will starts singing along: "I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad, buy all of the things I never had." Never mind the sentiment (what things he's never had?) I was a bit shocked to hear my nine-year-old singing along as at first I thought he'd said the actual F-word.

They do grow up so fast. I gave the girls some money to spend ahead of Christmas and Amy came back with a lovely blue dress. When she put it on she looked stunning, but she didn't look 12 years old, she looked a lady. I thought, "That used to be my little girl."



4. Count me out from going to a Russian World Cup

I hope the BBC, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday are happy now we've lost the World Cup bid. We might be democratic and have freedom of the press and so on, but we don't always use those privileges very cleverly. We just shot ourselves in the foot.

I think we have to accept we don't have many friends in the world game; and if Sepp Blatter gets in as Fifa president again, with some help no doubt from his friends in Russia and Qatar, we can forget about hosting the World Cup for ages.

I am disappointed personally as the decision means we are unlikely to get a World Cup when I can go with my boys in my lifetime. I'm 62 now, I'll be 82 when 2030 comes round and there's no guarantee we'd get that. I certainly won't be going in 2018, I doubt if many English people fancy a month in Russia, and I doubt anyone wants to watch football in Qatar in 50 degrees four years later.

The line that summed it up for me was someone joking as they waited for the decision: "How long does it takes to count roubles?"



5. United are gunning for the league title

Manchester United's 4-0 defeat to West Ham in midweek told me one thing: Sir Alex Ferguson is really concentrating on the title. For him to make so many changes for a cup quarter-final shows he thinks he can win the Premier League, and after beating Blackburn 7-1 who can blame him?



6. Liverpool give a reminder of their old quality

Losing Jamie Carragher was a real blow to Liverpool. I did feel sorry for Roy Hodgson. They'd played as well as I've seen them away from home this season too against Tottenham on Sunday, and they were without Stevie Gerrard as well. It goes to show how good Liverpool can be when they have a go at teams.



7. It could have been tight at Hull – but I've escaped

I have got hold of some blue tights, but you'll never know whether I was planning to wear them under the shorts at Hull. I didn't need them last weekend because, although, it was cold the game was so good it kept me warm.

It was a real credit to the Championship and Cardiff played their full part, both in the way they played and the support their fans gave them.

Our next game now is a tricky one at home to Watford next Friday, which is live on TV. I could have done without an evening kick-off in December and I may have to get the tights out, as long as no one thinks they have tuned into Strictly Come Dancing by mistake.

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