Neil Warnock: Watching United may be like visiting the dentist, but Spurs light up the Champions League
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 06 November 2010
My highlight of the week was making the right decision when I picked up the remote control on Tuesday night, not that there was really any doubt about which match I was going to watch.
I read Sir Alex this week saying he would rather go to the dentist than watch the World Cup. Well, I can't say I've been enthralled by watching Manchester United in the Champions League this season, nor anyone else for that matter, with one exception.
That's Spurs. They really are lighting up the competition. I was absolutely enthralled by the team Harry picked to play the holders. How bold to play not just Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon wide, but Tom Huddlestone and Luka Modric in midfield. I couldn't believe how well they played, and how exciting it was. Just how much was underlined when I turned over for five minutes to watch United, and glanced at the Rangers' game. I soon turned back to Spurs.
It was marvellous to see the way Spurs got at Inter from the start. They showed such quality on the ball and great movement off it, all topped off with the power, strength and crossing of Bale. I sent Harry a text a few minutes before the end to tell him how proud I was of him and his team.
It sounded like a great atmosphere. There really are few better places than White Hart Lane for a big match. I remember going there with Sheffield United in the Premier League, and, way back, Notts County in the FA Cup, it just had an aura about it when you pulled up in the coach.
That match in 1991 was a quarter-final, and when Don O'Riordan put us ahead from 35 yards we felt we had a real chance. But you need luck to win anything, and we didn't get it. Paul Gascoigne elbowed Paul Harding and gave him a black eye. The ref said he'd seen it, but he didn't send Gascoigne off. Lo and behold, Gazza made the equaliser, then scored a late winner. No one but us cared, of course. Tottenham went on to win the Cup, but Gazza, did his knee in the final. Just think, if he'd have been sent off when he should have been he might never have suffered that injury, instead he might have gone to Lazio fully fit, played a whole season and starred as England won Euro '92. And as well as winning promotion Notts County would have won the FA Cup for the first time since 1894 (we only had George Graham's Arsenal and Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest to beat). There are such small margins in football.
2. Clattenburg forgot the 18th law of game – common sense
Spurs' week didn't start as well, what with Nani's infamous goal. It wasn't Mark Clattenburg's finest hour. I later heard Clive Thomas commenting on it – now there's a blast from the past. I have to say he echoed my thoughts. By the 17 laws of the game Mark was correct, but he ignored the unwritten 18th law, common sense. On reflection I think Mark must wish he had handled it differently. I know he was trying to give Tottenham advantage, but he had a get-out-of-jail card when the linesman flagged and could have rescinded the goal if he wanted to.
There was another ref in the spotlight on Monday, young Michael Oliver, after he sent off two West Brom players at Blackpool. He will be a top referee one day, but his inexperience showed when he sent Pablo Ibañez off so early. A referee should always try and keep 22 players on the pitch if he can, and no one would have complained if he had shown a yellow card. Indeed, the red was later chalked off.
The problem with young referees is that they so want to impress the assessors by doing things right they can forget about common sense. No one would argue with the second dismissal, it was a horrible challenge by Gonzalo Jara, but because Oliver had already sent one West Brom player off it reduced the game to a bit of a farce. As it was West Brom nearly got a draw, I'm sure with 10 they would have won; they played so well with nine.
Both teams are still in the top 10, as are Newcastle. It's a long time since we've seen three promoted teams in such a position with a quarter of the season gone. It shows how the gap between the top of the Championship and the middle of the Premier League is narrowing.
3. Amy knows how to take care of herself on netball court
I had a tough night this week. No, not the draw with Burnley last week, nor preparing for a difficult game with Reading today, it was helping William with his geography and maths homework on Monday when Sharon was away. Fortunately he hardly needed help, I'm just glad it was his homework, not mine.
He had a great day at school on Thursday. No lessons, just a trip to the National Portrait Gallery. That's one of the great advantages of going to school in London, there's so much on your doorstep.
Talking of the kids, Amy won this week's netball game 8-5. She didn't score as she was playing goal keeper. She said the player she was marking elbowed her a few times, but she said she "sorted it". I'll let your imagination fill in the details.
4. I can't match active Mick's mileage in the technical area
I saw a survey this week on how much ground Premier League managers cover during a game prowling around the technical area. Apparently Mick McCarthy does the most, 36 miles a season. Chris Hughton and Steve Bruce were next. They were all defenders and they're probably doing more miles now than in their playing days. I don't do that many. The dugouts are so close to the pitch at QPR I can't.
5. Visit to QPR's bogey ground will round off very hard week
Our match today against Reading, who are doing really well now, starts another hectic week because we then go to Portsmouth and Forest. There's been a lot of talk about Portsmouth being in administration but I think their starting XI is the best in the Championship, including Cardiff and ourselves. It's possibly the highest-paid as well. So I'm not surprised in the slightest to see the run they are having, especially with my old captain Michael Brown getting the goalscoring bug.
Forest will possibly have gone 27 home games without defeat by next Saturday – it's 26 now and they host Coventry on Tuesday. I've been told by one of our statisticians that QPR have never won at the City Ground. I thanked him for this wonderful information, which will lift myself and all the players.
Despite that I'm looking forward to the game as I always enjoy going there. The surface is fantastic and the fans always get behind the team to make an atmosphere. It'll be good to see my old assistant David Kelly again. He's one of the nicest men I've ever met, but what a glutton for punishment, assistant to me and Billy Davies.
6. Clichy's schoolboy error made my job easier
One way or the other there'll be fireworks tomorrow. I'm at TalkSport for an intriguing set of fixtures in the afternoon, then the family are going to an organised display.
If you were a betting man you'd have to back Chelsea at Liverpool. But then, the other night I couldn't see Liverpool getting a goal against Napoli, then Captain Fantastic gets a hat-trick and he only played a half.
There'll be some nerves at The Hawthorns. How many Man City players are going to turn up? And they will have to turn up if City are going to beat a West Brom side in good form.
Like City, Arsenal are coming back from a difficult away trip, and a defeat, but it is hard to imagine them not beating Newcastle even if the Magpies are flying after last week's thrashing of Sunderland.
And then there is Cardiff v Swansea. That promises to be a great game. I said to Brendan Rodgers when we were down there recently, "I've been in some derby games but that is one game I'd really love to watch." Here's hoping there's no problems off the field.
I do have to thank Arsenal for making my job easier this week. At training on Thursday I said to them, "Anyone see the winner against Arsenal last night?" Clint, Gorks and a couple of others said they had. "Did you think of me?" I asked. They knew what I was on about. I always tell them, "Don't muck about with the ball in a dangerous area, put it out for a throw-in. We can get organised to defend it." That's what Gaël Clichy should have done.
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