Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1 Courage of hospital patient with artificial legs puts the game into right kind of perspective
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The Independent Football

It was brought home to me on Monday that football really is only a game. I was invited, along with Brian Laws, Sheffield Wednesday's new manager, officially to open the new outpatients' unit at the Renal Department of Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

The matron, Chris Stubbs, took us round. She showed us what they do regarding dialysis and then we went on a ward. There was one chap there called Lee Dixon-Gear. He was sat there with his dialysis machine in his Sheffield United kit right down to a pair of shiny red boots, just like Phil Jagielka's. But he hadn't any legs. He'd lost them both through diabetes. He asked me to sign his artificial ones. He had a smile on face all the time.

Brian and I both commented that people who have really got things to moan at, are the ones in life who seem to smile through their adversity. Then you get some of our lads. If someone nicks their hair gel they moan for a week.

2. I've sent my Chinese shoes to Africa

My kids, Amy and William, are both on the school council, they get voted in by their classes. Amy had the idea of sending shoes to Africa so this week we've been taking in shoes from all my friends. They're aiming for 200 pairs and it's been great to see the whole school coming together.

There's a full range from little kids' shoes to grand-dad shoes. I asked my lads to bring some in and collected a great big bag, about 100 pairs. Some of them were brand new, and I had to stop a few of the lads from doing swaps. I didn't fancy them myself - they wear some weird shoes my lads.

But I can talk. When we went to China pre-season last year I came back with several pairs of casual shoes. I thought they were really good but one day Sharon started saying "what's that smell". It turns out the shoes weren't "genuine leather" after all. I'm not sure what they are. So they went in the bag. They may smell odd but they are spotless, and I'm sure someone would rather wear them than be without any shoes.

3. I can't wait for the smoking ban

I went to a Sportman's Dinner at the club on Wednesday (yes, I got the date and time right this week). Steve Daley, the former Wolves and Manchester City player was the main speaker. It was a great night in terms of entertainment but the smoking! When I got home I had to take my suit and shirt straight off, stick them in a plastic bag and shove them in the car ready to take to the dry cleaners. Then I had a shower, at 11.30 at night! I'll be glad when the smoking ban comes in.

4. I may have to give up kids' football training

William won man of the match at football training but I'm not sure I'll be going to watch again. These kids are only five or six but a couple of them were flying into tackles, going for the boy not the ball, jumping them from behind. I was getting quite agitated on the sideline but I kept telling myself: "I can't start shouting at a five-year-old". Sharon says I better not go next week.

5. Pardew will be pleased at end of takeover saga

We're at West Ham today, the first match since they were taken over by the Icelandic people. I would think it's a massive relief for Alan Pardew, not least because the new man says he wants to work with him and he's promised him money in January. The papers had been saying the other buyer did not and it's not nice to read things like that.

In West Ham's case they had some new players come in as well and they can take time to settle. It's also easy for the media to blame the introduction of new players for any bad results. Personally, when the players are as good as Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano I'd rather have them in the squad than not - I could do with them myself, especially with the injuries we've got. I looked at our team-sheet last week and thought: "Crikey, and we're playing Man United", but we acquitted ourselves well.

6. Move over, Cliff, it's time for a real crooner

When I finished my press conference on Thursday I said to the lads: "Guess where I'm going tonight" and I started singing "Living Doll" ... "Got myself a crying, walking," etc. Before any of the press boys could say anything, Karen Springett, one of the office girls who was listening, said "I know. Karaoke Night". I actually went to see the real thing, Cliff Richard himself. Still, she must have heard that I did sing it once. At six years old, accompanied by my best mate, Stephen Herbert, on piano, I sang "Living Doll" to the old ladies at the Methodist Church hall in Frecheville, Sheffield.

7. It was no surprise Saha missed penalty at Celtic

I was surprised Manchester United lost at Celtic. Watching the game I couldn't believe how they lost it, but it was one fantastic free-kick. Come the penalty I could not understand why Louis Saha's team-mates contributed to the delay in his taking the kick by getting involved in what was happening around the box. It's happened to us the same this year. Don't players they realise it will cause their own team-mate problems? I hoped he'd score but it did make me feel so much better when he missed. At least we are not the only ones missing penalties every week.

I don't know if Gary Neville really said what he has supposed to have said to Neil Lennon, that he thought Saha would miss it, but I can understand it if he did. I didn't fancy one of ours this year, so you say something like that in the hope he'll prove you wrong. Like Saha, ours didn't.

Chelsea will be strong in defence tomorrow, just as Celtic were. That can be a problem for a team like Manchester United who want to attack, so they must try not to be caught on the break.

8. Kenny must guard against matching set

Paddy Kenny's eyebrow is healing well. It's easy for players to get caught up in things at this time of year, so I've had a quiet word to make sure he doesn't get a matching set for Christmas.

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