Neil Warnock: We are top of the league! And there are only another 40 matches to come...
Saturday 18 September 2010
It is obviously great to be top of the Championship, to have 16 points from six games is unbelievable, but no one at QPR is getting carried away. I'm well aware you don't win anything in August or September. No league really takes shape until about 10 games have been played. But ask any manager, they'd prefer to have wins under their belt than be struggling at the other end of the table.
The great thing about being top is that players believe in themselves. I love the fact there are players proving people wrong. I was told Heidar Helguson would not be able to play three games in a week, but he is. Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie, who've been making and taking the goals, are getting the attention but it is not just the eye-catching players who have been important, it is also the likes of Shaun Derry and Clint Hill. I've really enjoyed seeing all the different personalities knit together.
When a team is doing well the whole atmosphere of the club is up. It's not just the playing staff, but you certainly notice it with them. Everyone wants to come to training, and they want to stay there all day. I'm having to curb their enthusiasm to prevent them overdoing it.
When fans start getting carried away I do remind them there are 40 games to go, and we need another 35 points to be safe. I just don't see any team, including us, running away with the league. I think it will be very close all the way to May.
That's been shown by the results. Today we're at Leicester, who beat Cardiff, who were joint-leaders with us, on Tuesday. It's the sort of result that shows how tight the Championship will be.
It promises to be a cracking game. Paulo [Sousa] has promised to get Premier League football in two years, so it will be interesting to see how they go on. I'm told he's made some derogatory comments about QPR, but Paulo often says something like that before the match. To be fair, he usually apologises after. I put it down to the language barrier. I'm sure he means well.
Last year against Leicester we played some of the best football I've seen at QPR. I remember shouting across to their then manager Nigel Pearson, "We're playing well here." Then the goalie dropped one and we were 1-0 down. We lost 4-0. Goodness knows what the score would have been if we'd played badly.
2. It's good to see your players rage at being substituted
We got a super result at Ipswich on Tuesday, but the early part of the night was not so promising. The lads play music in the dressing room before the game. Well, they call it "music". It does my head in, it's all boom-boom-boom, real head-banging stuff. I thought one of the records was stuck, it was that repetitive. And it's so loud, I don't know how it helps players prepare for a game. Mick [Jones] and I couldn't put up with it so we went outside for a bit of fresh air and peace and quiet.
We sat in the dugout and within minutes the rain started. Full-frontal it was, driving into the dugout. Me and Mick were trying to get under the terrace and it was following us. I went back in and said to the lads, "What a great night for football: filthy weather, a fabulous pitch, and 20,000 fans in."
There was one incident the press got excited about. When I brought Taarabt off he kicked a water bottle. I could see they had been dying to ask me if he had aimed it at me. I told them, "If he had, he'd have hit, because he's been spot on in his shooting this season."
I think they realised it was not a big issue with me. I don't want players to be happy to be substituted. I doubt if Mackie was pleased at coming off, as Curly [coach Keith Curle] said, "He's after a hat-trick, gaffer". I said, "Would you rather he plays at Leicester, or he gets a hat-trick and gets injured?" We've a small squad and I don't need any more injuries.
I always enjoy going to Ipswich. The fans are very fair there. Only 90 per cent give me stick. I certainly enjoyed this week. It was one of the best away performances I have had for many years, especially with Ipswich being a decent team, Roy [Keane]'s done a good job and there is a different feel about the place.
3. More Boro blues for Ramage – but he will be back
Three years ago in August Peter Ramage came on as a sub for Newcastle against Middlesbrough. He played right-back and did his right cruciate ligament. Last Saturday he came on as sub for Bradley Orr and played right-back, against Middlesbrough. This time he did his left cruciate. What cruel irony in the coincidence.
I just can't imagine what it must be like to have two major injuries, but when I spoke to Peter this week he was still bubbly and confident that he will bounce back. If anybody can, it will be him.
I really felt for Peter because when I took over at QPR I thought, having seen the games prior to arriving, that he would be one of the first to be shown the door. He's proved me wrong and been an important part of our squad. I hope he has a bit of luck and returns before the end of the season. He is an absolute gem of a boy.
There's been a few bad injuries this week, I hope it's not going to be one of those seasons. When I saw Luis Antonio Valencia's studs stuck in the turf on Tuesday I did wince. Success in our game is not just about being a good player and a decent pro, you do need some luck with injuries.
4. Pennant's dive shows the need for video crackdown
There's a saying that people are more shocked by honesty than deceit, and it came to mind when I saw Stoke beat Villa on Monday with a free-kick won by Jermaine Pennant when it was obvious Stiliyan Petrov never touched him. I don't blame the ref, he did it so cleverly you needed just the right angle to see it. That's why I think we should use video evidence to ban players who dive (including any of mine). Stoke got two extra points because of that. I was just relieved it had not happened to me, I don't think I'd have taken it as well as Kevin MacDonald did.
I thought the game itself showed how important the manager is, with Tony Pulis unable to talk to his players before half-time due to his mother's death. It was obvious he galvanised them and he would have been delighted with the response.
5. Amy shows the Warnock spirit after trying day
Amy did a triathlon last week. She did well in the swimming and shooting but said she left a lot to be desired in the running, so she did not qualify for the nationals. I said, "So you won't be doing it again, then?" She said, "I will, I want to qualify next time." I like that determination.
While she's running around, William is dancing. When I saw Billy Elliot I thought, "No lad of mine will do that", but he's doing street-dancing. He takes me off to a T, shuffling along with his thumbs up like I do. I love watching him, can't wait to see him in a show.
6. Nothing phoney about my new love of technology
On Thursday the Football League asked me to help launch a new iPhone app at Whiteleys shopping centre in west London. I have to admit it blew me away. I'm not really into technology, I can barely turn on the computer, but I was amazed by what this phone can do. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would become one of these people who uses an iPhone, but with a touch of the screen I can watch all our goals, or any other club's for that matter.
I had to make a Tube journey on Thursday night and the phone showed me how to get there. I simply can't imagine what they will come out with in the next 20 years.
7. London has become one giant Freedom Pass
When I came back from TalkSport on Sunday, William suggested we play tennis. So off we went on our bikes and played for an hour, free of charge. I said to Sharon, "Isn't it brilliant it is free? What else can you get for free?" She mentioned the big museums, my bus pass... London's great like that, you can do so much without paying.
Two goals in injury time should mean a minute is added on ... sometimes
I can understand why David Moyes was upset when the whistle went with Everton chasing a winner against Manchester United last Saturday. We've all been to these meetings where we are told the ref will add on 30 seconds for a goal, and Everton had scored twice in injury time.
I don't blame the ref for blowing up, I wouldn't want to receive the tongue-lashing Sir Alex Ferguson would deliver if United had conceded three goals in injury time, but I bet if the boot had been on the other foot, and it had been Sir Alex on the touchline pointing at his watch, a bit more time would have been added.
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