Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. The Championship is a cracking division, just ask the Premiership's relegated clubs
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That Palace result showed that the three relegated clubs, themselves, Norwich and Southampton, have found it tougher going than many people expected.

I think that is possibly due to the fact that it is a different type of pressure this season, for the players and for the manager. Last season nobody expected them to win games so a defeat did not get much publicity. This season the expectation from fans and directors is that all three clubs will be promoted. That type of pressure does create problems.

I still think they will have an influence on promotion and that Wolves will not be far away but who's to say Reading and Luton, and indeed ourselves, can't keep up the pace. We all have the odd defeat and Mr Journalist says the bubble has burst when we do, but Luton and ourselves keep picking ourselves up while Reading have not lost since the first game of the season.

I think the promoted clubs will come from the ones I've mentioned, plus Leeds who have had superb backing from Ken Bates. I must admit I'm envious of Kevin Blackwell who was with me almost 17 years. Last year when he had to change the club around with no money he was at least used to doing that with me and he did a reasonable job. But in his wildest dreams he could not have imagined Ken Bates would fly in on his magic carpet and give him the best part of £5m. I don't think I've spent that in 20 years in management.

It's taken me that time to get someone to hand me £1.3m, which I've spent this season on Paul Ifill and Danny Webber, and I've recouped £1.15m. So we're only £150,000 down, which is not bad for the position we're in.

2. And have you noticed how Wigan and West Ham are doing?

Whilst the Premiership and the Championship are at different levels I do believe Alan Pardew and Paul Jewell, along with, to some extent, Mick McCarthy, have all shown you can go up and try and win games, you do not have to be totally defensive in attitude against the better clubs.

The big difference I feel is the first touch. In the Premiership you can give a player the ball any time and 99 per cent of the players are comfortable receiving it. In the Championship there is more hustle and bustle and, as I tell my centre-halves, "Head it and kick it, I don't want you to be [Franz] Beckenbauer at this level." I just want them to defend. In the top flight they would have to be comfortable receiving it but if you take two touches in the Championship someone piles into you and you're left on the floor pole-axed.

3. Chinese trip was secret to our great start

One thing that has helped us is that in pre-season we went to China. Humidity was about 100 per cent and the temperatures were in the 30s. That meant we had to keep the ball for long periods and pass it around more because it was too hot to chase it. Though it wasn't a trip you would want as a manager, because we were flying everywhere, it gave us the opportunity to feel comfortable on the ball. As a result we've played more football this season. The confidence of keeping the ball against good opposition in China meant we started the season the right way.

I'd never gone away far before for pre-season and I had my doubts in the first few days when we had so many problems it was shaping up to be like Mutiny on the Bounty. But we quelled the rebels, regrouped and found it brought us together. Having said that, anyone who had problems should have looked around at the poorer parts to realise how lucky we are in this country.

4. Goalkeepers are only human

There's been a string of goalkeeping howlers this week. Rob Green of Norwich probably felt bad after slipping and conceding a soft goal in my division last weekend but he will have felt much better after seeing the Champions' League games.

The Real Betis keeper dropped one at Ricardo Carvalho's feet and the two air-kicks by Fenerbahce's keeper, first at the ball, then the man, was like something out of The Benny Hill Show. But they all make them. Even Paddy Kenny at our place has made a ricket while with us. That was at Crewe this season. He came for an innocuous ball, then dropped it on the head of their striker.

We were dominating then suddenly they're level. But we got him out of the cart to win.

5. I'm not suited to England

One paper suggested "Warnock for England" last week after the way we played at Millwall. I don't think so. I went to see England Under-21s play Poland at Hillsbrough the other week.

They passed the ball 15 times before reaching halfway. I could never manage an international team doing it that way. I just couldn't get excited. It was a great result for their coach Peter Taylor but I kept thinking, "Thank God it's on a Tuesday, not a Monday or Wednesday. I'd hate to miss Coronation Street for this."

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