Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. First Palace home game, first defeat, but the boys could not have tried any harder
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The Independent Football

My feet haven't touched the floor this week with two quick matches for my new team, Crystal Palace, and the completion of our house move from Sheffield to London. We started off with an encouraging draw at Blackpool but then lost to Stoke City on my home debut. It was a disappointing result, to say the least, but I don't think the boys could have tried any harder. It was just poor defending that cost us at a time when we should have gone on to win the game.

Perhaps that is why we haven't had a clean sheet so far this season. Our goal difference is only minus two, which suggests there's not been much in most games, but that's often the case in football. The difference between winning and losing can be so close. On Tuesday, before our goalie had a shot to save, we had two one-on-ones with Paul Dickov and Clinton Morrison. Goals change games but we didn't get one, then we lost two of the most influential players before half-time in Dickov and Ben Watson. We were already missing Tom Soares who was suspended for a harsh sending-off at Blackpool.

But the defeat has not dampened my enthusiasm for the challenge that lies ahead, and boy, do I know it is a challenge. The training ground is a super environment and, with the family finally moved in, I'm beginning to feel right at home. No disrespect to hotels, but there is nothing quite like waking up to your own family. Over the last few weeks I've really missed washing up, putting the rubbish out, filling the laundry up...

We've no game today, so we're all shooting off to look at players elsewhere. We're trying to get a few additions in. Then we play the runaway leaders, Watford, in front of the TV cameras on Monday. That's a massive game. Aidy Boothroyd has got everything spot on since relegation. He's bought well, adding to a good squad that he's not tampered with. Having learnt from his experience last time, I expect the tampering will start once they get up.

I suppose we could have done with playing someone else, but the quicker I find out about the players the better and this is the sort of game that will reveal a few things. So did the Stoke match. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than victory. If we'd won that night, I might have had a false opinion or two. A win colours your perceptions.

2. I can shop till I drop at convenience store

The welcome from the fans been superb, not just at Tuesday's game but in general. I think they all appreciate me moving the family down. I bet not many would have found a house and moved into it within 10 days of getting a job.

After Blackpool I drove straight back to Sheffield. On Sunday I spent seven hours going through papers, chucking stuff away. I was allowed two hours off, only to be sent into the loft to clear that out. If there's anyone out there thinking about moving home, think twice.

The kids made their farewells on Monday night. They entertained friends in a restaurant in Sheffield – very grown-up. They've been a bit unlucky. Their old school in Sheffield starts half-term today, the new one in London is back to school on Monday, so they've missed out on a week's holiday.

I've been finding my way around – no opposition coach driver ever enjoyed coming to Selhurst Park. I always got lost and even had to drive round the ground twice last week looking for my parking space. The handy thing is it's got a Sainsbury's backed on to one end so I can do my shopping. I was in there for two hours one night doing the "big shop" as Sharon and the kids were on their way down. People were saying, "Is it really you? Are you Mr Warnock? I never thought I'd see you in here." I've got to eat like everybody else.

3. How to lose friends and influence people

We saw the influence Steven Gerrard has over referees again last week when Mark Clattenburg changed his mind about booking Everton's Tony Hibbert and sent him off instead. I commented previously about how he influenced Mike Riley to give the free-kick which resulted in Liverpool's opening-day victory over Aston Villa. Unfortunately, we're beginning to see him doing this more and more, which I don't think he needs to.

I think 95 per cent of referees would have given the penalty, and sent Hibbert off but, looking at it from a professional's point of view, it is very hard for defenders when they know a player will go down. As for Dirk Kuyt's two-footed "tackle" on Phil Neville – we were all told a player does not have to make contact if both his feet are off the floor and there is intent. It is a straight red card. I think Keith Hackett, the refs' supremo, will have been pulling his hair out watching it.

I thought Clattenburg was a super ref as he made his way in the game, but Graham Poll's influence on him since he got to the top level has had a detrimental effect. Hopefully, he can look in the mirror and get back to reffing as he was before he became somebody.

4. Awesome Arsenal are in total command

What can you say about the way Arsenal performed in midweek? Some of the stuff they played was almost total football. I'm sure there will come a time when things don't go for them but at the moment they have the whole country purring.

Tomorrow comes their most difficult task so far against a Liverpool team who have a massive task to qualify in Europe. It looks like they will be the only one of England's four not to make it. Then Rafa Benitez can concentrate on rotating in the league – though I don't think they have a chance of winning it.

5. You lucky people...

And finally, how lucky can you get, Leicester City fans?

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