Neil Warnock: The revelry can wait – a sound night's sleep and a win today are our idea of a good time
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 01 January 2011
Last night, while everyone else was celebrating, we enjoyed a traditional footballers' New Year's Eve; tucked up in bed in a hotel just outside Norwich.
As on Christmas Day I trusted the players, so there was no going round checking everyone was in bed before midnight. They are aware they will have plenty of New Year's Eve celebrations when they give up football. Really, it's not that much of a sacrifice. They all get paid well and they are aware that preparation and sleep are important. I just had to hope we got the quiet end of the hotel – you can't find a decent hotel at New Year's Eve that hasn't got a few parties on.
It is important the players do look after themselves as after today we have to get back and prepare to face Bristol City at home on Monday. There's no let-up in the Championship. It's not like those soft Premier League teams who get an extra day to recover; I suppose it is so they can get their snoods and gloves washed and dried. At least our schedule isn't too bad. Preston, after playing today, are at Crystal Palace on Monday, and Hull travel to Portsmouth. You have to have sympathy for the supporters as well as the players.
It was nice after two defeats to get back to winning ways over Christmas. It doesn't matter whether you're top of the league or bottom, when you start losing you put pressure upon yourself. I can assure you Carlo Ancelotti, despite all he and his team have achieved in the game, will have felt very relieved after their win against Bolton.
2. Sackings were sad but you can't keep a good man down
I was disappointed to see Darren Ferguson and Brian Laws departing from Preston and Burnley respectively. They are both very genuine and hard-working managers and I'm sure neither will be long out of work. I suppose at this time of year directors always think a change will turn things round, and no doubt at both clubs the directors will have had their ears tested by out-of-work managers and their agents. I think once the crowd start showing their displeasure all of us managers know our time's up.
There's also been an appointment and I did smile at some of the quotes from Sheffield United saying they wanted to get back to a Blade who can put passion back into the club. Didn't they have one of those a few years ago? I think Mickey Adams, while not a "big name", is by far the best choice. He's a genuine manager who gets the best out of his players and someone fans can relate to. He has had one or two rough deals in his career and I know exactly how he feels today as he prepares to take on Burnley away. I'll never forget the moment Derek Dooley told me I had got the job. I felt I was the luckiest man in the world. I envied no one. I vowed to myself I would make Sheffield United the best club in Yorkshire, and No 1 in Sheffield, which it had not been for so long. There's no feeling like managing your own team and I was lucky to have over seven years there. I can see Mick staying a long time and doing really well.
Congratulations also to my old assistant Stuart McCall, who has gone to Motherwell. He's got good experience, having been my assistant in the Premier League and manager of Bradford City in League Two. I think he will do a good job at Motherwell and I wish him all the luck. And the bonus is his kids can use the same coloured scarves as at Bradford.
3. Topsy-turvy results make for an absorbing Premier season
Results in the Premier League these past seven days have been amazing. Chelsea got their win, albeit fortuitously, and Arsenal drew at 10-man Wigan, having made eight changes. I wonder if the Premier League will ask Arsène Wenger to explain so many changes. That point could keep Wigan up at Wolves' expense. How would Mick McCarthy – who was fined for supposedly fielding a weakened team last year – feel then? Not as happy as he is at the moment after that wonderful result at Anfield, that's for sure. And how about West Ham getting four points in two games, and Fulham beating Stoke for their first away win since the Boer War – or so it seems – after the home debacle to West Ham? It is fascinating, so many teams are being drawn into the relegation battle. It's so tight that if West Ham win two on the trot they'll be looking to Europe and Avram Grant will be a contender for manager of the year.
Aston Villa must wonder where the next result is coming from – probably not at Stamford Bridge today, though the way Chelsea have been playing it's not beyond the realms of possibility. It must have been frightening for Chelsea not even being in the top four – it shows how quickly loss of confidence can sap even the best players. Manchester United are top, even though they are not playing with any great fluency. I didn't enjoy watching their game at Birmingham. While United were robbed of two points, you have to give Birmingham credit for way they kept going. They will need that fighting spirit for the remainder of the campaign, as they do not look as though they will score a lot of goals.
4. I'm the only one in our house who still believes in Santa
For Christmas, William got this Nerf gun, which fires 18 foam bullets automatically. They stick on you but they don't hurt – except when William fired point-blank into my ear, which did leave it a bit tender. We have four now, so Sharon and I found ourselves taking the kids on.
Even more fun was had on Pac-Man. I haven't see one of them for years but we got one for William's console. Isn't it fantastic to enjoy one of their computer games? I started off where I left off 15 years ago, as the champ. How come in eight hours I was the chump? At that age they learn so quickly.
Sadly, I think this year was Santa's swansong in our house. I must have asked William 10 times on Christmas Day who brought his presents and the girls would look at me as he said, "Santa". I know one or two of his mates have been telling him differently and I think he may just be telling me what he knows I want to hear. Still, now we have a grandchild Santa will soon be able to make a comeback. It was great seeing Charlie with James and Sara; this time next year he could be walking. We'll no doubt all buy him expensive presents and he'll have more fun playing with the boxes – or, as we found with James one year, the saucepans under the sink.
A number of people said they enjoyed my Christmas Day show on Talksport. I thought: "How sad, they were listening to me on Christmas Day." I'd like to thank the managers who took time out to speak to me – Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Ian Holloway and Mick McCarthy – though it appears the highlight was William's joke. If you didn't hear it, it was: "Q: What did the shoplifter get who stole a calendar? A: Twelve months."
I was delighted to raise more than £2,600 in The Independent's Christmas Charity Auction. I'm sure whoever has won will enjoy joining us for a day. The charities all look wonderful causes and it's great to be able to pitch in.
5. Continued stint at QPR would be in Walker's best interests
The transfer window starts today and every manager in the land will find his phone ringing non-stop. I have brought a lad in from Norway, Petter Vaagan Moen, whom we have watched for the best part of a year now, but I don't anticipate making any big signings. We are thinking about trying to get a couple of loans in to the end of the season, but on the flip side it looks as if Kyle Walker is going back to Spurs. I hope they change their mind. He had a great game against Coventry on TV but he's not always been like that. Young lads do blow hot and cold and I think the experience of another 20-odd games at this level would do him good.
6. Ashes success was just the tonic for this English patient
I felt a bit flu-ey when I got back from Coventry but it was great knowing I could tuck myself up in bed and watch us retain the Ashes. I put the electric blanket on and Sharon made me a lovely hot toddy – she even put it in a flask so I could have it a bit at a time and it would not get cold. That is an understanding wife. She knew I would stay up to the final wicket so she went off to sleep with the kids. It was a good decision as I just had to shout out when we got the final wicket. Beating Australia in cricket is like defeating Germany at football. They always seem to be better than us over the years, so it is great turning the tables.
7. The intention's there, so here are my apologies in advance
I've made my traditional New Year's resolution: Don't be rude to referees. Unfortunately, it normally only lasts for a few hours. I'll do my best today but, let's be honest, I don't think I'm likely to change personality now.
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