Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. When you run out of answers there is only one outcome... as Graeme Souness found out
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The Independent Online

I'm sure Graeme Souness doesn't need my advice, but if he asked my message would be clear: enjoy life for a while, take pleasure in being with your family and give yourself time to put things in perspective. Bearing in mind his past health problems I hope he takes a break from the rat race following his sacking by Newcastle. When you're struggling in football there's nothing better than going home to your family.

The timing was strange, considering the transfer window had just closed. However, Newcastle have been getting uncomfortably close to the relegation zone. With the money they've spent they couldn't contemplate dropping out of the Premiership.

By appointing Glenn Roeder as caretaker, with Alan Shearer helping, they clearly hope their fortunes can be turned around. A change in training or coaching, or bringing in players previously out of favour, can make a difference, for a game or two at least.

Graeme seemed to have got to the stage where he just couldn't find an answer to the team's problems. He was very unlucky, with injuries to so many key men. I heard he had been concerned by the number of pulled muscles suffered at the training ground. We had a lot of Achilles tendon problems at our new training facilities. Pitches drain so well these days that sometimes it can be like playing on plastic. We now water our pitches more.

I imagine that one feeling Graeme might be experiencing is a sense of relief. That was what I felt when sacked by Notts County. Although I'd taken them up into the top flight, it had got to the stage where I just couldn't see us winning a game. I'd had six difficult months and part of me welcomed the sack. I was able to move on and prove that I still had it in me to be a success.

2. It is hard to survive in the Championship...

I don't think anybody was surprised by two other managerial departures, Craig Levein at Leicester and Phil Brown at Derby. Expectations are high everywhere and both clubs were clearly concerned at their slide down the table.

Craig had a reputation as the best young manager in Scotland, but the Championship is such a difficult and competitive league. I think he made the mistake of bringing in too many Scottish players. It can be tough to adapt. Leicester absolutely hammered us when they beat us 4-2 in November. I'm sure they imagined that was their turning point, but it wasn't to be.

Phil was No 2 to Sam Allardyce at Bolton, but until you actually take charge of a team you don't fully appreciate what management entails. The League Managers Association sends people on courses, but there's no substitute for actually doing the job. You can't teach experience. I believe the best way to learn is by starting to manage at a lower level.

Some big-name players want to go straight into management at a high level, but I think that's almost impossible. Chairmen don't realise how difficult it is for an older player or even an inexperienced manager to run a big club.

3 The referee has the red card...not me

I was gutted when Phil Brown was sacked. I knew Derby would have 48 hours to change things for their next match - against us. They put Terry Westley, one of their academy staff, in temporary charge of the side, with Paul Peschisolido assisting him. Their players were really geed up, as were most of the 26,000 fans at Pride Park.

Derby put us under pressure and we had to roll our sleeves up to win 1-0, courtesy of Ade Akinbyi's debut goal. It would be nice to play attractive football every week, but it's when you win after a scrap that you often feel the greatest satisfaction. Derby's Michael Johnson was shown the red card for a foul on Paul Ifill. Some people suggested it was my reaction to the tackle that got him sent off, but that's nonsense.

It was the referee who decided to send him off. Personally, I thought it merited only a yellow card. As Michael came off he said to me that I knew him (from our Notts County days) and that I must realise he's not a malicious player. I told him it was a bad tackle: there was no way he could get the ball from where he made his challenge.

I got plenty of abuse from the crowd after that, but I'm used to it. They also had a go at Paul Ifill, which was why I substituted him. Members of the Derby staff - people who should know better - had a go at Paul when he went down the tunnel. With so many tunnel incidents these days we'll soon need closed circuit television there.

4. Loyalty counts for nothing these days

I've been reading a lot about loyalty in the light of Joey Barton's desire to leave Manchester City. The club stood by him after a couple of incidents and I can understand them thinking they've been poorly rewarded. The sad truth is that loyalty counts for nothing these days. Managers are sacked and players leave to seek better deals elsewhere.

I'm not pretending I know what City offered Joey, but young players who make the breakthrough with a club often don't get the best deals. And it didn't surprise me that Middlesbrough came in with a bid the day after Joey turned down City's offer.

It's hard to keep someone who wants to leave. I've had players who I was convinced would take my advice to stay but have subsequently gone. Some have shaken my hand on a deal and phoned two hours later to say they've had a better offer elsewhere.

When Michael Brown left us for Tottenham he did at least listen to me. I was sorry to see him go, but he had only a year left on his contract and had set his heart on a move. His mind was elsewhere and he wasn't playing well.

He was going to Rangers, but I told him he should go to the Premiership. I said I wanted to see him on Match of the Day. He went to Tottenham for less money, but it was the right move. He played regularly at first, though his chances later became limited. If he'd played for his country and been a big hitter I'm convinced he would have been an automatic choice alongside Michael Carrick.

I'm pleased he's gone to Fulham. At 29 Michael needs to play regularly. I spoke to him last week. Of course, I would have loved him back, but I would have been expected to get three players for the sort of money he would have cost.

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