Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. A good, old-fashioned half-time rant can still work wonders on the modern player
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The Independent Online

Some people, including other managers, say there's no need to rant and rave these days but sometimes to get your point over you have to raise your voice. That was the case at half-time in our midweek match against Luton.

It was a massive game for us and I was very disappointed how we started. Although we scored, Luton were better than us early doors and showed why Mike Newell's team have been doing so well. So I was very pleased when the half-time whistle went. I am sure managers all over country will know what I mean when I say I just wanted to get my Sheffield United team into the dressing-room and sort a few things out.

I felt our forward line had not performed at all and were letting the rest of the lads down. I asked them if they'd "care to join in for 20 minutes with the rest of the team" - and they did. The eventual result was 4-0. It does show how things can change at half-time and the importance of team-work rather than individuals.

We have got to the top of the Championship through teamwork and if people take their foot off the accelerator it is down to the manager to remind individuals why we are where we are.

I was glad to get out of our "slump", which is the way one newspaper described our having drawn twice and lost with a team of kids in the Carling Cup. It is amazing how dramatic some journalists can get.

2. Next time I'll look before I swallow  

It is true we drew at home to Cardiff but I blame myself. At lunchtime, without my glasses on, I realised I had not taken my one aspirin a day which I take on doctor's advice. I went into my pill box and swallowed what I thought was an aspirin. As soon as I registered the bitter taste I knew I had swallowed a sleeping tablet by mistake. So I cannot blame the players for being lethargic, it comes from the manager being half-asleep.

Today sees us play Crystal Palace, who I think have the best squad in the division. Simon Jordan, the Palace chairman, while not having friends in every place, has backed Iain Dowie to the hilt after relegation. He has bought Jon Macken, Jobi McAnuff, Darren Ward and Clinton Morrison, for the best part of £5m in total, on top of giving the division's biggest wage to Andy Johnson.

Looking at the squads, Palace may have thought they should be where we are with the players available but I think if they put a run together like two years ago, they are more than capable of catching Reading or ourselves. That is why we have to try to pick up a result and go all out to win.

3. My 'horror' disguise didn't work  

It's important to make time for the family in this job and when I was stuck in the house on Wednesday night I decided to turn off the football. There is so much on TV now. Instead, I read the Narnia story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to my children William and Amy. I enjoyed that far more than looking at some of the European games.

Monday I went out trick-or- treating. I held my pumpkin up and wore a horror mask. I thought it a good idea as a lot of the neighbours are Wednesdayites. But they all recognised me. Some still gave us sweets and one handed over a £1.

4. Don't write off Alex  

One of the matches I did not watch brought a bad result for Manchester United and I was not surprised to see the headlines regarding Sir Alex Ferguson in the morning. They did bring a smile to my face because he always comes up with an answer and I would not put it past him to turn it around again. He seems to thrive on adversity.

I remember when I was Notts County manager in 1990. I crossed the Trent to see his team play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. I have never seen so many cameras facing the stands waiting for Manchester United to lose and Alex to get the sack. You could sense the disappointment when Mark Robins scored to take them through. United went on to enjoy the best period in their history. That will always stick in my mind. It shows how close is the margin between success and failure.

5. Gazza will gain priceless experience  

Gazza's arrival at Kettering also brought back some memories. I used to take Scarborough there when we were both chasing promotion to the Football League. Rockingham Road was one of the best places around at that level. They were a great crowd.

That season [1986-87] they scored first then battered us but could not get another. We then scored twice late on. As we came off, Alan Buckley, their manager, was shaking his head saying: "I can't believe you won that." I said to him: "Read the papers tomorrow." We absolutely stole it.

If Paul has gone there to get experience, it will be great for him. You cannot put a price on it. There will be problems he has never envisaged. It is a different world. You have problems with players getting time off work and not being able to train in midweek. But if you stick at it you benefit.

By the way, there's some football on TV worth watching. Tune in to Match of the Day tomorrow. As an ex-Oldham manager, I am on to cover their FA Cup tie with Chasetown.

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