Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. All I want for Christmas is a six-pack and a fully functioning cardiovascular system
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I have to admit I have enrolled with a personal trainer at a gym, Virgin Active, near our house. Ian Thistlewood has been given the challenge of trying to get me fit. This isn't just because Christmas is coming. It's to do with the check-ups we have with the Wellness Centre through a link-up with the League Managers' Association

I should have gone there about nine months ago but I didn't and I've never really been fit enough to go since so I thought if I am going to go back for my check up, I ought to get myself fit.

Isn't it amazing how good you feel about five minutes from the end of your workout, when you know you are nearly there? All I'm thinking is "I'm 10 minutes from a shower".

I do go on the bike quite a bit on the training ground but there is nothing as good as having someone push you. That's why in pre-season, no matter how many fitness coaches we have, there is nothing better than the manager walking round to let them know you are there.

In some ways this job is terrible for fitness, with all that sitting in the car or behind a desk. In others you get more opportunities than most to be running around in the open air, but I think as you get older you don't take advantage. Recently I felt I should do so. If you don't you are behind that desk on that telephone eating junk food all day. But having young kids in particular makes you aware of wanting to look after yourself.

Ian is excellent. We talk a little bit to start with, but when he realises that I'm breathing through my backside he knows talking is no good because he won't get a reply.

I do weights, a lot of arm exercises, leg extensions, the step, the rowing machine, and the bike. I don't go on the jogging machine as I have a calf that flares. I have to wear the headband because I find as you get older you just sweat more. The facilities are there to go for a swim or sauna after but I'm always so limited for time. The one thing I do is make sure my telephone and watch are left behind so I'm not disturbed, all I do is train.

Ian doesn't really support anyone which is fine by me, I just thank goodness I did not get a Wednesday supporter. He'd have really made the most of it.

I've been doing it for a few weeks now and I feel much better: I'm sleeping better, I've lost a bit of weight, I feel more toned. Hopefully I'll be able to take my test by about March. It's the full works. They wire you up on a jogging machine, put an oxygen mask on you and everything. They set it faster and faster; it's hard work. And they do all the cholesterol tests and so on.

The Wellness Centre also sends us monthly bulletins and they've given us some Christmas tips in the latest one. It's all commonsense. Among them is the advice to take some brisk walks, so the next time the fourth official pulls me up for leaving my box, the technical area, I'll telling them I'm just going on my brisk walk.

They also tell us to share a dessert if we don't want to abstain. But since I'm working out now I can have a whole one, can't I?

2. A signed photo of me is the perfect Christmas present... if you have a dartboard

I took the players to the Sheffield Childrens' Hospital on Thursday. When you go around the wards it really brings it home to you just how fortunate we all are to be involved in the game of football. The children we saw hardly ever complain even though some have extremely serious illnesses and I have to say the nurses are just absolutely fantastic.

We always take stuff from the Sheffield United shop, but this year I was really pleased to see the lads all chipped in and we ended up spending four figures on some extra toys, we got stuff for different age groups, 0-5, 5-10, 10-15. I felt a lot better as a lot of the kids aren't Sheffield United fans and probably aren't too thrilled with a load of shirts, scarves and badges advertising the Blades, especially the Wednesdayites.

The hospital has a good reputation and they come from all over with kids there from Barnsley, Leeds, even one from past Glasgow who had come in for some specialist treatment.

We knew, as we walked round, that some of the children will be in over Christmas and it was nice to be able to have a chat with the parents as well. With having children myself I know you always put yourself in their place - when your children are ill or poorly you'd do anything to swap places with them.

I had about 150 photographs of myself to sign, so everywhere I went I insisted on signing one because I cannot get rid of them otherwise. Each time I'd say "I know what you want for Christmas, one of these photographs", and when they said "no" I insisted they had one. I said to the Wednesdayites: "If you want to put it on the dartboard, that's all right with me."

3. Welcome back Curbs, but I'm afraid I can't wish you luck

I'd like to give a warm welcome back to the rat race to Alan Curbishley. I gather he asked Sir Alex Ferguson for advice. Given they're playing each other tomorrow Alex must have said he should wait until Monday.

I felt like ringing Alan but I can't really ring him and say: "I'm glad you're back in the game but I hope you struggle for results". That, though, is how it is. Everyone has to look after themselves, and he'll know that as well as me.

No disrespect to Charlton Athletic but I think Alan will revel in being at West Ham United. Like me he'll be managing a team he grew up supporting.

That brings its extra pressures but I can't explain the feeling you get after a great result when you know that you've sent your own people home happy... although in football you never quite send everybody home happy. If you score three there's some that will have wanted five, "what about the ones you missed?" they comment.

I was surprised Alan Pardew was sacked but I think he'll come back a lot better for it.

He's a good manager but until you've had the sack you don't appreciate the good times so much. He'll know about the circumstances within the club which have gone against him, that's how it is sometimes.

4. We aim to build on results, pyramid-style

One of the press guys said to me this week: "I hear your have a couple of Egyptians on trial." "Yes," I said, "but only because we're looking to play the pyramid system."

I kept a straight face, as straight as a Sphinx, and he didn't clock it for 20 seconds.

Bid to have lunch with Neil, watch the Blades train (Lot 35), and maybe get a signed photograph - if there are any left over - at The Independent auction www.independent.co.uk/auction

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