Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

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The Independent Football

1: I saw what happened to Robbo and Mick and thought, maybe I'm better off without it

It was a strange feeling at 3pm last Saturday, when it all kicked off and I was in a car driving up the M1 instead of standing by a dugout. The last time I had not been involved on opening day I was a teenager.

I was driving home from doing Football Focus. I was pleased to have been asked as I knew it would take my mind off things. It did, but come 3pm I felt a real emptiness in the stomach. I listened to the radio for an hour but after they described how Colchester had scored an instant equaliser at Bramall Lane I turned off. I knew Bryan Robson would be furious. I checked the score later and found out Colchester got a second equaliser in the last minute.

It had felt just as odd when I woke up. I didn't feel sick. I didn't have that churning in my stomach. I could eat my breakfast without feeling like bringing it back up. Then I watched the highlights and saw Mick McCarthy winning with seven minutes to go, then watching his Wolves concede twice with one goal a wicked deflection, the other a penalty following the most stupid defensive challenge. I thought, perhaps I'm not missing it as much as I thought I would. I knew how destroyed he would feel inside.

2. Carlisle may not be the answer

A good start is so important to every manager. When you lose two or three on the trot you hear the manager come out with, "I thought there were a lot of positives". But deep down you know there are never any positives in losing. A bad run makes you question your methods, wonder if you are doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, it also makes other people question you, like fans and directors. We've not been going a week and already three or four managers are under what journalists call "severe pressure". Of course, one's gone already, Neil McDonald at Carlisle. I think it is a disgrace to sack a man after one game; they did not even lose it.

It did lead to a priceless incident at home though. I'm laid in bed, watching the morning news, when I hear a great commotion downstairs. William and Amy were both shouting, "Yes" at the top of their voices. I screamed at them, "What's the matter?" They both shouted, "Daddy, the Carlisle manager has got the sack". I thought how touching for our two young kids to know I'm out of a job, and the only way I can get one is for someone else to get the sack. Over our croissants I tried to explain that Carlisle may not be the answer to my dreams.

3. Riley easy to con

The early results in the Premier League have not surprised me at all. As I said last week I feel Chelsea will win it this year because of the dogged way they dig out results. They way they and Man United have started reiterated to me my gut feeling might come true. It already seems an uphill task for United to get back into it. I know Liverpool have also started well but they only won at Villa because of the help Mike Riley gave them. The incident when Steven Gerrard won that late free-kick gave me a feeling of déjà vu, he did the same against us last year. Stilian Petrov obviously played the ball but because of Gerrard's appeal Riley could not wait to give it. He's a great player but does he know how to con referees? And with Mike Riley it doesn't take much. I felt Everton would have a good season, and they have started that way, while you have to give Sven Goran Eriksson a pat on the back. He's got two great results and made it look a piece of cake integrating so many foreign players at the same time. Believe you me, it is not. It was an English lad who caught the eye though. That Michael Johnson looks some player. Now it's the derby, and if you were Sir Alex, having drawn the first two, and lost Rooney and Ronaldo, you could think of easier places to go than Eastlands. I would not bet against Man City getting a result.

4. Playing it by the book

I've had an absolutely brilliant week doing book signings. I've been in Wakefield, Doncaster, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Scarbrough and what's amazed me is that is is not just Sheffield United fans buying the book [Made in Sheffield: My Story, Hodder&Stoughton £18.99].

I guess it helps that I've played for, or managed, 18 different clubs. That means I've got a few places to go yet, and I'll certainly get to Cornwall. Reading I might leave until we've sold enough to pay for some armour-plated security. Being out of work has been a bonus in this regard. I would never have had the time otherwise, and it's been great talking to people who share the same good memories of matches and successes. I am still getting ribbed by West Ham fans and I'm taking it in good heart even if the chorus "There's only one Carlos Tevez" is getting a bit stale.

The kids have come along and helped out. Quite a few people see them and say, "you must be Amy and William, I feel like I know you from your Dad's column in The Independent."

As a reward I promised to let them go on the donkeys when we got to Scarborough. Then we went on the funfair and I found myself on the big wheel singing, Queen's "We Will Rock You".

5. See you in court?

I keep being asked how I feel about Sheffield United suing West Ham. Quite frankly I don't give two hoots one way or another. But if they win I'll have to think about taking litigation myself as it seems to have cost me more than anyone.