Neil Warnock: The game needs a citing tsar to hand out retrospective bans after the Luis Suarez bite... I'd be perfect
What I Learnt This Week
I can understand why Brendan Rodgers is so upset at Luis Suarez's 10-match ban. Jermain Defoe went even further when biting Javier Mascherano yet was only booked.
I thought the FA prejudiced what is supposed to be an independent panel when they put out their statement in advance. And what has the Prime Minister got to get involved for? I think it is victimisation. They have tried the person rather than the crime. If it was just Joe Bloggs from Accrington Stanley there is no way he'd get more than five or six games, which everyone in football knows is about right. Suarez should have been banned for five or six matches and had a further five or six matches suspended.
The career-threatening tackle by Callum McManaman – which resulted in no ban whatsoever – was 10 times worse than what Suarez did. They are the offences that should result in a 10-game ban, but because an official says he's seen it the FA don't do anything. No one can condone what Suarez did, it was barbaric, but the FA need proper guidelines for offences whether or not a referee thinks he has seen it. They need to review offences on a Monday morning, like in rugby. That could be a new role for me: Citing Commissioner handing out suspensions. I won't hold my breath.
2. A born striker
Everyone watching the first 30 minutes of Manchester United's match against Aston Villa on Monday could see why they have won the league by such a huge margin this season. The second goal in Robin van Persie's hat-trick was as good as you will ever see. The way he struck the ball was textbook material for anyone coaching young players, except that ability like that is largely natural.
The result left Villa with a five-game season, which could be said for all the clubs at the bottom, though it does look as if the fight will be between Wigan and Villa for what appears to be the last relegation place. As soon as Wigan got into the FA Cup final I feared the worst for them, and I still do.
Reading v QPR tomorrow will not answer any question, except which one goes first. I do feel sad for QPR; it was so hard to get them into the Premier League and I honestly thought they would be there for years. I thought they would build and build and end up pushing for a European place.
It hasn't worked out like that but I'm glad they have come to an agreement with Ealing Council in West London regarding a new training ground, one of a number of places we looked at when I was there. The club are desperate for a new facility – the one at Harlington is not a top-flight training ground, it's not really Championship level. Don't be surprised if they announce a new stadium soon as well, further proof Tony Fernandes is in it for the long haul.
3. Life down below
Last night I covered the Leicester v Watford game for Sky. I must admit I was surprised at the clubs' positions going into the game. I thought Leicester would have walked the league, so if they don't even get into the play-offs it will be a big blow, while Watford have done better than expected – even if it looks as if Hull will pip them for automatic promotion.
Today I'll be driving back to London to appear on tonight's Football League Show on BBC. I have to confess most of my attention during the day will be on League Two and the fight to stay in the Football League. There are seven clubs involved and all their fans will be biting their nails and no doubt using their iPhones and radios to find out what's going on.
Having managed Torquay, and with my lad playing in the academy at Plymouth Argyle, where I also managed, I'm desperate for the West Country clubs to survive. I'm sure Plymouth's Green Army will turn out at Rochdale in force today. You can sometimes get the impression it's all about the Champions League top four or five but there's passion lower down the leagues too. Argyle fans travel the length and breadth of the country, week in week out, in large numbers.
4. Ibrox is so hospitable
I went to see Rangers against Peterhead last week with a mate who is a season-ticket holder at Ibrox. I really enjoyed the hospitality there thanks to the food and the friendliness of everyone. Even the young kids asking for autographs outside the stadium were polite.
Being relegated appears to have galvanised everyone at the club. Even Peterhead's win couldn't dampen the spirits of the 43,000 crowd, of whom about 150 were from Peterhead (I counted them). I saw Ally McCoist after and had a good chat, and was then shown around the trophy room. But I only had an hour so I wasn't able to see all the silverware.
It was my first visit to Ibrox. I can't believe it has taken me so long to go there. I went to Parkhead a few years ago when I was with Sheffield United. We had a pre-season game at Greenock Morton and Gordon Strachan invited me to a game at Celtic. I remember saying to Stuart McCall, who was then my coach, "Let's pop in". He used to play for Rangers and he said: "You're joking, gaffer, I can't be seen anywhere near that place. I won't get out alive." I thought he was going over the top but when you go there you do see how tribal it is. We left him behind and I went with Mick Jones.
I've always promised William I'll take him to an Old Firm game, and a Clasico in Spain. First, though, will be next season's Sheffield derby, if United get through the play-offs.
5. Giving away Eusebio's shirt
While it is great finally to have all the family living full-time in the home we have planned to settle in for years, there are some drawbacks. One is that I've at last been forced to take stock of all the memorabilia I've collected over the years and justify – to Sharon – what to keep. In particular, over the seasons I have collected quite a few signed shirts, which I've had framed. Since Sharon has made it clear our walls are not going to be decorated with football kit, and there seems no point in just putting them in storage, I've had to have a clear-out.
We're all hoarders and actually to give away something you have valued is very difficult, but I've been a big supporter of a Sheffield charity called St Wilfrid's ever since I was manager at Bramall Lane. It operates a day centre for homeless people and I would often drop by there with players. They are in the process of trying to raise £2m for a residential unit so I thought it would be a good cause to donate some of my shirts to.
I've picked out about 30, including some crackers, like shirts signed by the Portuguese great Eusebio, plus modern-day stars such as Michael Owen, Didier Drogba and Craig Bellamy. Some of them, I needed to check with the players who gave them to me that they didn't mind me giving them away. These were shirts like the ones Phil Jagielka and Michael Tonge wore when they made their England Under-21 debuts, and Paddy Kenny's Irish shirt when he played against Brazil. As I thought, the lads didn't mind at all. Like myself they have supported St Wilfrid's over the years.
What I didn't realise was all the work that entailed, because every shirt has to be verified. Even the ones that are signed "To the gaffer" need a verification letter from me to accompany them. When we have collated them all I hope to list them in the column and anyone who is interested can get in touch with St Wilfrid's and make an offer.
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