Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. It's very generous of my lads to ease off and give the rest a chance to catch us up
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I can't say much about last week's incident at Norwich, as I've been charged by the Football Association with bringing the game into disrepute. I intend to ask the FA for a personal hearing, and I'll let you know how it goes once I've seen the commission.

The one thing I can say is that my team seem to be back to where we were. We haven't had the rub of the green but I found myself looking forward to today's game, wishing it had come a bit earlier. It's amazing what a bit of confidence does - the players have looked much more relaxed this week. Maybe with the others catching us up the pressure is now on them.

Of course, what's really happened is that the League, and the sponsors, asked us if we could ease off a bit. With Chelsea running away with the Premiership and Reading streets ahead in our league, they said it was all getting a bit boring. Well, we've kept our side of the bargain.

2. Regrets? Big Al will have a few

I have to admit to a tinge of sadness when Newcastle were beaten at Chelsea in the FA Cup. For me Alan Shearer has been our top centre-forward for what feels like for ever and and it seems a travesty he has only won one thing, the title 11 years ago with Blackburn. It's been a great honour for him to have captained his home club and to play in front of his own fans. It's similar to myself, managing the club I supported. It's a great feeling when you contribute to the club you were brought up with. But he will still feel a little bit disappointed he has not won more medals.

I only came up against him once as a manager and he didn't take long to make his mark. Soon after I took over at Bramall Lane we went to Newcastle in the FA Cup. They beat us 4-1 and he scored in the first five minutes. They were so good at set-pieces; we didn't have enough markers to cope with them. Shearer has been a great ambassador and I hope he doesn't go into management. He's a family man and I think it would spoil his life. He doesn't need the hassle. Lots of ex-players think they have to try it, to put the drug to bed. My advice to Shearer is "don't".

3. There isn't much love in the air at Hearts

To illustrate the pitfalls of management you need look no further than Hearts, where the chairman has just sacked Graham Rix. I was in Edinburgh on Saturday night, and no one saw it coming.

From the outside you can't see the logic behind the decision - they are second in the League and in the Cup semi-final. But Vladimir Romanov saved the club so you have to go along with the way he sees it. Unless the next manager wins the League and Cup double it's difficult to see how he can satisfy him. Still, he will have been inundated with applications already.

I once applied for the Hearts job, and for one at Aberdeen. I never even got an interview for either of them. Obviously they didn't want an Englishman up there.

4. Cockpit capers feed my inner nine-year-old

I went to Scotland by plane directly from Norwich, having dropped the team off at Doncaster. After they got off the pilot asked me if I wanted to join him in the cockpit. I sat with him and the lady first officer while they took off and landed. It's usually kids of eight or nine who want to go in the cockpit, but I loved it.

My wife drove up so I gave her a call at about 2.30pm, from the dressing-room at Carrow Road. I told her I had a few butterflies but, as usual, I thought they'd pass once the game kicked off. She said to me, "who are you playing?" We weren't even at home. It goes to show she's not feeling the pressure.

5. I look like Jamie Oliver. Honest

We had dinner in our hotel and I could see this woman looking at me. At the end of the meal she said, "Excuse me, I'm sure I know your face. Have I seen you on TV?" I said, "Possibly, yes." Then she said, "I've got it, you're a celebrity chef." As I explained who I was I thought, "that's a real ego-booster".

6. My son, the future referee

My lad William is always flicking switches. He sits in the car and puts the seat flat like a bed, then he brings it backwards and forwards. Then he puts the seat heater on. But I always tell him not to touch the middle button, because that's the ejector seat.

He's always on at me to let him press it, and to go for a drive without the roof on - it's a convertible, obviously. So the other night I said yes. We got wrapped up with scarves and coats and headed off. I made him wait until we left the city - I don't want people thinking I'm a poseur. I'm not, I just enjoy driving with the top off. Finally we got out of town and I let him flick the switch. The roof came up and over and I could see he was ever so pleased.

It was a gorgeous night. We went past Chatsworth. It was all floodlit and it looked fantastic. By then William had worked out the stereo and had all his favourite James Blunt tracks on. All this and he's still only four.

We saw these animals at Chatsworth. I couldn't work out what they were in the dark, but then I realised they were deer. Then William saw a kangaroo. With eyesight like that he'll obviously be a referee when he grows up.

We finished up with a takeaway with some friends in Matlock. We didn't have any choice - there were no women with us to cook, or even any celebrity chefs.

Comments