Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. The only thing better than unforgotten joy of 1966 would be looking forward to 2018
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The Independent Football

I have to say I'm dead excited about the prospect of us staging the World Cup in 2018. I'm lucky enough to be able to remember 1966 and it was fantastic. I was about the same age then, 17, as my William would be in 2018 and it is one of those things that just sticks with you.

The final I especially remember. I watched it with my dad in our house in Frecheville, it must have been on a black-and-white TV. It was one of those days when people spent the whole day together, everybody coming round first thing in the morning. I remember afterwards all the street was outside celebrating together, hugging each other, it went on all night. We were only a side road but every car that came down was blasting its horn and we could hear all the horns and sirens on the main road. It seemed chaotic.

At the time I didn't think it might never happen again. I thought we were the greatest in the world and assumed we would do it again quite soon. Little did I know I'd be lucky to see us win it again in my lifetime.

The World Cup did come to Sheffield that year, and there were some appetising games, with Germany and Argentina playing. But they were at Hillsborough: no Sheffield United fan was going to watch a match there, even a World Cup tie. Oddly, I was working near Hillsborough at the time, in accounts at Burdall's, who made gravy salt – back then they were as big as Bisto. When I got the chance to join Chesterfield, the office manager told me I was making a big mistake, that in a few years I could have his job and be on £25 a week. I remember he pointed out the factory walls and said: "Look at these bricks and this mortar, they'll never fall down." I've spent the rest of my life in football; within five years the factory had closed.

2. Leopard-skin boots are ready to step out

The last three weeks have been like a hurricane. I don't know where the days have gone or the hours, even with getting an extra hour on the clocks this week. Despite our position in the table, it has still been enjoyable getting my teeth into it. Obviously, we have problems or we wouldn't be where we are, but with the wheeling and dealing, and one or two young lads, there's no reason why we can't stabilise.

One of the lads I've signed attracted a bit of comment before and after the game against Watford last Monday. Franck Songo'o joined us on loan from Portsmouth on Sunday and did all right. His bright blue boots caught the eye. I said to him: "You've got to be some player to wear them." But they are all trying to outdo one another these days. We'll soon have the first leopard-skin boots – perhaps I should patent the idea.

Franck may wonder what has hit him at Scunthorpe today. It shows how far Scunthorpe have come when they meet Crystal Palace in the Championship as favourites. It shows what a fantastic job Nigel Adkins has done to get them in the position we would like to be in.

I had a couple of good years as a player at Scunthorpe and fond memories of the Old Showground. There was such a slope – perhaps that's why I've one leg shorter than the other. When I was there, to get into the equivalent of the Second Division would have been like winning the pools. Not only have they done that, they've set about establishing themselves at this level. I've helped them a bit in selling them Billy Sharp, who got 30-odd goals last season to help them get up, and Kevan Hurst and Jonathan Forte, who were both with me at Bramall Lane. Players seem to relax when they go to Scunthorpe and let their natural ability take over.

3. How public comes back to haunt you

It's a flash lifestyle, soccer at the top. Only this week I took Sharon out for lunch at this exclusive open-air place. We needed some things for the house, so we went down to Wickes. It took a while and when we came out we saw a burger van in the car park, so I said to Sharon, "I'll treat you". We had sausage, onion and mustard rolls on this table, Dave, who ran it, had set up.

Dave, who it turned out was a Scot and supported a few teams, from Rangers to Welling, said, "Don't I know you?" I said, "You might." "Football?" "Yes." "I know," he said, "Neil Warlock". I told him I'd been called worse over the years.

4. All is quiet on the Warnock front

We were in a lovely park near our new house the other day and I was just thinking how well we'd all settled into a new home, new job, new schools. The kids were saying how brilliant it has been, and Sharon how happy they all are, then William said: "The only thing we are missing is a win, dad." I said: "Who's been talking to you?" There's no way a six-year-old would say that.

It reminded me of when Amy was about four. We took her into a shop and the lady behind the counter said: "You're a very well behaved little girl, what's your name?" She replied: "Amy Be Quiet."

5. Tips only pay when you back them

Not everything's wonderful – the traffic is a bit of a shock. There's red lines everywhere on the roads and I'm convinced the cameras are out to get me as soon as I even look like stopping on one. The congestion really hit me on Thursday when I attended a sponsors' function for the club at Lingfield races. That's all part and parcel of being a manager now, and that's fair enough. Sponsors used to get taken for granted but most clubs try and give them value for money now.

Mick Jones and myself shot off after training to get there, but we had only been going 10 minutes when we got gridlocked in Croydon after an accident. It took 40 minutes to get through and doubled the journey. I only saw three races. Like every non-punter, come the last I backed one horse on the name, another on the colours. Then a friend phoned with a tip. I thought: "I've already backed two, that'll do." Sure enough, the tip romped home. I bet we've all been there.

6. Youngsters need shielding from media

You will have seen, or heard, that I gave a 15-year-old his debut in midweek, John Bostock. I'd only seen him in training with the youth team, but we'd picked up injuries in midfield so I gave him a chance.

I don't really want to say much more, because one of the biggest problems for a young player is media coverage and we're trying to do our best by him and protect him. I don't feel it is good for young lads to be accessible to the press at such a young age. There is a time when they have to face the media, but that is when they have had a number of first-team games. Before then they need protecting, much as Sir Alex Ferguson has shielded his youngsters through the years.

What I can say is I find it amazing how young players are developing. I've been very impressed at the quality I have found at Crystal Palace. But I think people just presume because they are good at 15 or 16 they will be a world-beater at 21. It doesn't always work out. It is a precarious profession and a lot of lads don't make it, so they need all the help they can get.

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