Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. McClaren does not deserve to be caught in friendly fire when players lack commitment
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The Independent Football

Everyone was very disappointed after the England game on Wednesday but personally I absolutely hate all England friendlies. I'm not criticising Steve McClaren, I've always felt this way and I'm sure that goes for some of the players too.

The public can't understand why players, who in their eyes are paid an absolute arm and leg, don't appear to be fully committed to the national side. I can assure you it is not for the want of trying. It is just so difficult to commit yourself when there is nothing at stake, unless you are a player just coming in like Ben Foster, who is looking to create a good impression. I'm the same with our pre-season friendlies. I can't get worked up about them and I think the players have the same problem; our pre-season results would suggest so.

The England job is a thankless task. On any given weekend only about a third of the players in the Premiership are eligible to play for England. While I appreciate what Arsène Wenger says in defence of his selection policy, that his only objective is to worry about his own club and every manager feels the same, I do feel there is more chance of English players playing under English managers. As Rafael Benitez has shown at Liverpool, you always favour players who come from your own country. You understand the way they think and you trust them more.

You have to trust your players, it makes you the more confident. I trusted all 11 last week, but we still lost in injury time after playing well. Then I was greeted on Sunday with the headline "Warnock sent off" in massive letters. One of my neighbours pointed it out,saying "I see you were in trouble again yesterday, Neil." I replied: "Try reading the paper first.". Then he'd have known it referred to Stephen Warnock, Blackburn's defender.

2. Liverpool were bought too quickly

I'm a bit disappointed about Liverpool being taken over by the Americans this week. I was hoping it would drag on as they are our next away game. That sort of thing can have an impact on the players and Rafa had said he would be glad when it was finished so they can concentrate on football.

Our clubs seem popular with overseas buyers and I wonder how long it will be before Sheffield United head down that line if we carry on progressing.

3. Quinn Jnr Jnr is on fire

Watching our youngsters reach the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, I found myself full of admiration for coaches at that level. I don't think I could do it. I would get too frustrated managing youngsters. I was sitting there thinking, "He should be doing that, he should be doing this."

Our kids got a great win against Middlesbrough. We've had three Premiership scalps and now we've got Liverpool, the holders, in the quarter-finals. The youngsters haven't got that far for years and it was great to go in after the game and listen to the euphoria. Even at that age there is nothing quite like a good win at football to get that feel-good factor.

Keith Quinn, younger brother of Stephen and Allan, scored the winner. I wonder what the odds are of all three playing in the same Sheffield United first team? I'd be tempted to put some money on it myself, but I'm sure the FA's compliance unit would be down on me like a ton of bricks.

4. The hills are alive with the taste of Bakewell Tart

On Wednesday I went to see Amy play netball in Bakewell, Derbyshire. She was playing at a school called St Anselm's. What a lovely environment it was, with the hills as the backdrop. You forget you have these places close to hand. I can assure you when we had a cup of coffee afterwards the Bakewell Tart was superb. I'm sure mine was calorie-controlled.

5. My son has inherited my best moves

Although we lost last week we managed to pluck up the courage to go to the park with our boats. It was great fun, even if half the pond was frozen and they ran out of battery power. We managed to steer them in without causing an oil slick, or crashing into any ducks.

In any decent park there's a cafe and at Millhouses we're spoilt. We had a cuppa and a bite. Somehow, when you're freezing, it always tastes a bit special.

Thursday was the St Valentine's disco at Amy's school. When eight-year-old girls dress up they all look 18. I assume that is the general idea for them, but it's not their dads' choice. William, who's five, came along and what a cool dude he was on the dance floor. One of the mothers asked who he took after. She seemed surprised when I said it was me. She obviously never saw me gliding down the wing.

6. Milestone is on cards

I'm told a draw today will give me 500 League points as Sheffield United manager, which would be something to be proud of. I'd like it to be 502 but I'm sure Tottenham have something to say.

Playing Spurs always brings back good memories. I was a teenager when they won the Double, so they've always had an aura about them. I used to love watching Dave Mackay. Everyone said he couldn't run, but he didn't have to with that left foot.

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