Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. Jose's big error was to listen to all those people saying his team played ugly football
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Although I was absolutely stunned by the timing of Jose Mourinho's departure, I felt it was on the cards when I saw Roman Abramovich walk out at Aston Villa when Chelsea conceded the second goal.

I think Jose's downfall was to listen to all those people saying Chelsea do not play enough glamorous football and are not nice to watch. His decision to try and change the way they played this season was a mistake. Only people who were jealous made such comments. Yes, I don't think Chelsea had ever been as great to watch as Manchester United, or Arsenal, but they did not play ugly football. What they did have was that bit more in the dressing room than either club which saw them gain two Premier League titles. Mourinho was one of the best motivators around at the top level.

Of course, it is easy when you have money, isn't it? I don't think so. Jose spent money but that brings a pressure of its own, and you still have to get the players to play.

I am going to be very interested now to see Avram Grant turn Chelsea into the most attractive team in the country over the next 12 months. Then I will look for the pigs flying over Stamford Bridge. The managers of the other top four clubs, Alex, Arsène and Rafa, must be laughing their socks off. What was Jose's record again? Two titles, three cups, and 60-odd games undefeated at home. Not bad was it?

When Jose arrived I thought he was a breath of fresh air. I only met him a couple of times, when they came to Bramall Lane and we went to Stamford Bridge. All the press thought we were bound to have a bust-up on the touchline but there was no trouble.

Chelsea won both matches. It is easy to be condescending when you have won but he was genuine. At Bramall Lane he knew they were very fortunate we missed a penalty early doors. He said that it would have been a difficult game if we had scored it. The game in London was the one in which Rob Hulse broke his leg. We didn't talk much then. He knew that I was gutted about Rob and didn't want to socialise.

All the women, and the marketing people, must be distraught. In the space of a few months the Premier League has lost its two best-looking managers.

Who? Jose and me – Amy dared me to say that, she thinks I am on a par with Jose. I bet Alan Pardew thought I meant him until I added that bit.

I'll be interested to see where Jose goes next. I think it would be good if he stayed here but I can't see how he would want to follow Chelsea. Tottenham may be a possibility but I don't see that. I think he will be homesick for his dog, so maybe he will go home for a while and wait to see what crops up. Then, if I was putting money on it, I'd bet on him turning up in Italy.

I need to know. He got a message to me last week asking for a copy of my book. I may have to wait a few weeks now to see where to send it to.

2. Johnson deserves City break right now

In football stability is vital. There is a good example of this in the Championship. Bristol City have had 19 managers in 27 years since they were last in the top flight. I think you have the reason there why the club has not prospered.

Now they have Gary Johnson in charge and I think they may finally have found the right man. I've got to know Gary in recent years as I let him use our academy ground to train at when his teams have been playing in this part of the country.

I know he struggled a bit at Cambridge United but young managers sometimes need such an experience. He had come from Newmarket, then worked with John Beck during Cambridge's climb up the divisions. Gary was one of a few managers unable to halt their slide back down the league. He also had a spell at Kettering, and with Watford's youth system, then he pitched up in Latvia. That was a brave move, but a good experience for him.

I spoke to him a couple of times when he was out there. I said, 'How is it?' He said, 'It's cold.' Then he came back here, to Yeovil, and took them from non-League to League One. Two years ago this month he moved to Bristol City.

It was not all rosy when he started at Ashton Gate. He had a horrendous start – he lost his first six matches, which puts Iain Dowie's start at Charlton last season into perspective. The chairman stuck with him and, last season, he took them up.

It has been good to see. Living in the West Country, you are aware of Bristol City's massive potential. I have always thought they were a club waiting to take off. I remember in my playing career it was one of the best grounds to visit, they would get 25,000-plus regularly.

The chairman has been very shrewd in extending Gary's contract to keep him out of the clutches of anyone, though I think it is the type of club he would want to be loyal to for a number of years. He has a good philosophy about the game. He likes to play the right way. He is a studious manager on the bench, but you can tell by talking to him how passionate he is about football.

While I don't think City will gain automatic promotion it doesn't half help having a start to the season like they have had when you just got promotion because they are bound to have a bad spell at some point.

All in all, Gary's had a decent apprenticeship. Once he would be mentioned in connection with Chelsea, just as I was back in 1991 when I had done well at Scarborough and Notts County. How things have changed.

3. The kids have a way with words

I've been away for a week in Cornwall. I left a little girl called Amy behind in Sheffield. When I came back I found she had grown up. I can't get on the phone at all. She's ringing girls she's been at school with all day. It must be something ingrained in women, this talking gene.

William was man of the match last week. When he talked me through his goal it sounded like something Pele would have been proud of. I was impressed, but I have a few doubts because I remember I used to come home from school and, when my dad asked me how I did, I used to say I picked a ball up in midfield, dropped my left shoulder, turned inside, put the ball through someone's legs, swivelled and volleyed it into the net from 30 yards. In fact, the ball had hit me blind from a corner on the back of the head.

4. Roman has my numeral, I think

I'm in London tonight, to watch Fulham v Manchester City for Setanta. This enabled us to have tea at the Ritz yesterday, a family first not at all spoiled by being served by two West Ham fans. I had thought I might have been heading for Manchester this weekend. I've had my phone on ever since Jose's departure, but I guess Roman must have misplaced my number. Or maybe he's heard I turned down Chelsea once before and doesn't want to be snubbed again.