Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. The pressure's off over-achieving Palace as young lads show no fear in promotion battle
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The Independent Football

It appears we are in the middle of a promotion battle, but it doesn't feel like it at the moment. People say: "Are you playing it low-key because you're indulging in mind games, trying to get a psychological edge over the others?" I'm not, I just feel the lads are so enjoying training at the moment when they start playing games it's just a continuation of our training sessions. The young lads, like Scott Sinclair, Victor Moses, Sean Scannell, don't seem to have any fear anyway. I've told them all, young and old, "Don't worry if you lose a game, we've already had a great season even if we don't win another point."

If you look at the size of the clubs below us, there are some with massive wage bills. Some of them are not even going for promotion: they are trying to stay in the league. It has been one crazy league. From a manager's point of view I want to get in the play-offs, it would be one of my finest achievements.

We have a tough game today, away to Hull who are pressing for automatic promotion. I'm really looking forward to going back to the KC stadium. I've been there once with Sheffield United and what a great atmosphere there was.

It'll be a full house on Saturday and no wonder, they've had a super season. Who'd have thought they'd be Yorkshire's top club (I know they are officially Humberside, but we all know Hull is really East Riding). I remember playing them when I was managing Scarborough and they were regarded as the Man United of East Yorkshire even then, with the heritage of Ken Wagstaffe and Chris Chilton.

Phil Brown's done a great job since taking over there, I'm sure his less happy experience at Derby stood him in good stead. And they've got my old player Dean Windass. It's a tremendous achievement to play at that level at the age of 40. For all his huff and puff he's one of the best I've ever had at holding the ball up, and he's always known where the goal is. I've spoken to him often over the last few years, and his heart's always been at Hull.

2. I will be reffing, not watching Man U-Barça

I think both Champions League ties are evenly balanced and although both Chelsea and Man United will think they are favourites I'm not sure any team is. Barcelona could score at Old Trafford – and how often have we written off Liverpool in Europe? You do so at your peril because they are at their most dangerous when a wounded animal. A lot depends on Chelsea's attitude. If they think 0-0 will do they will be on dangerous ground.

The second legs will be good games but I won't be watching on Tuesday night. Instead I will be refereeing at Plymouth at a testimonial for Mickey Evans. He got me out of the cart when I was manager at Plymouth. We'd been automatic favourites to get promotion, then we lost the first five matches. We were rock bottom of the league and I was staring at the sack. Mickey was a local lad and I put my faith in him. I said I'd play him for a few games so not to worry about having a bad game.

His nickname is Trigger and he is very similar to the Only Fools and Horses character with an easy-come, easy-go attitude, but he scored the goals that launched a run that ended with promotion. He's been a superb club man for Plymouth and I told him I'd referee. It might put a few hundred on the gates, all the referees associations might hire buses to come and cheer me on! Rest assured I won't tolerate any dissent.

3. I'd vote Boris, if I had a voting card

Now I'm a Londoner I've taken an interest in the election for Mayor. But I've a message for Boris Johnson. We've not received any voting forms at our house so you'd better sort out a couple quick or you'll be losing a couple of votes. After all, I have to vote for someone who looks like my chairman.

I think having a Mayor is a good idea, especially for a big city like London. One thing Ken Livingstone has done is to put me off getting in the car. I wouldn't dream of driving in the congestion zone. Mick Jones, my assistant, got fined and he didn't know he'd even been in it. As for parking, I've never seen so many traffic wardens as round here. I thought about writing to Bromley council and asking if I could pay by standing order each month I get so many fines. I even got one on my birthday after I'm sure I'd put a ticket on the windscreen. I appealed but it made no odds. What made things worse is that there was no penalty notice on the car when we got back, someone had taken it off – probably a Charlton or Millwall fan who'd seen me getting out of the car. It was a swimming pool car park and I even asked to have a look at the CCTV, but they said it did not cover the area I parked in. That was £60 and I got another £80 when I nipped into a bus lane. It was the last 10 yards before a left-hand turning. There was no one in it. That's why, if we can, we go on the train.

4. Lazy Sundays suit me better than rides

It was great to come home from Watford last weekend to find a house full of people. It was Amy's birthday so we arranged for a sleepover, three friends came, Sacha, Olivia, and Grace. James, my eldest son, and Sarah, his partner, and my oldest daughter Natalie were also there. Ten people, seven of them female, one bathroom.

The girls talked into the night, and it was great to hear them at it again at six o'clock in the morning! However, they all went off by half-eight to Thorpe Park and left me to have a lazy day reading the papers, watching a bit of telly, taking the dogs for a walk and just relaxing. I even let the guinea pig out to have a run. Then half an hour before they were due back I tidied up.

I'm not one for rides myself. I went on the Runaway Mine Train at Alton Towers and it frightened the life out of me. They take a picture one of the bends and I looked terrified. I was hanging on to William who appeared to be saying: "Don't worry Dad".

5. My condolences go to Frank

William has been a Chelsea fan (as well as Palace) since I took him to last year's FA Cup final. We got him a shirt so when Scott Sinclair came on loan I said, "Do you want me to get Scott to sign it". When I brought it back he asked if Scott could get the other Chelsea players to sign it.

He already has one shirt signed by last year's Chelsea squad from when he was a mascot against Chelsea last year. Frank Lampard got it signed. So Sharon said: "Why do you want another one?" William said: "Because I want to give it to my children when I have grown up".

I'd like to send my condolences to Frank and his family after his mum's death. They've always been a close-knit family and this will have been a terrible blow. It is a reminder that football is not the be-all and end-all.

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