Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. Being confined to bed with a bad back and a touch of flu is not an excuse to stop working
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The Independent Football

This is a busy time of year for managers with everybody trying to improve their squad and only a month in which to do it. It seems to be non-stop, the phone calls you receive and make, but I've spent most of the week with my feet up in bed.

Before Blades fans start getting irate, and other managers jealous, I've not been relaxing. I've been laid up with a bad back and a touch of flu. It's not kept me from the phone but I have had to make some changes.

Normally, I'd have gone to meet Garry Flitcroft this week once it became clear we had a chance of signing him from Blackburn. Instead I had to sell him the move by phone. It's the first time I've ever done that with a signing. Fortunately, he was still convinced.

I was delighted with that. I've always liked Garry's leadership qualities and I've been after him since November. I have felt for a while we haven't enough experience in a vital area - with 18 games to go if Phil Jagielka was injured, or I wanted to play him in a different position, we'd be short.

I was going to meet him on Tuesday lunchtime, but I didn't want my new signing getting ill before he joined. So I got on the phone and told him what I told the young 37-year-old Stuart McCall a while back. I said it was the right club for him, one with a great bunch of youngsters and a sprinkling of experience. Stuart played another three years for us and now he's my coach.

2. Believe a four-year old if he says he's sick

The first Warnock to be sick was my son William. Last weekend we had a break in the countryside. We stayed at a place with the best setting in the Peak District, the Monsal Head Hotel. On Sunday we set off for a walk all in our brand new walking shoes, wrapped up in jumpers, fleeces and thick socks. Within 10 minutes William had said his stomach was hurting. We said "give over, we're only walking for half an hour". Five minutes later he said it again. So we thought we better go back. A few minutes later he proceeded to vomit all over the road.

Any parent will know how guilty we felt felt having thought he was coming it on. So we stayed another night, William up all night with my wife in one room, Amy and me getting a good night's sleep in the other. Within 24 hours Amy was the same, then it was my turn to feel sorry for myself. But, like every other man, what I want to know is, how come the wife never gets ill?

So on Monday I went into training feeling terrible. Tuesday I climbed off my bed for a couple of hours to go speak to our midfield players. I wanted to tell them we were signing a midfielder but it didn't jeopardise anyone's place, it was just another body for the squad.

They all agreed we needed someone which I was really pleased about. But I made them stand at the other end of the office. I didn't want them to get my bugs. I also told the physios to disinfect the water bottles and warned Brenda, our "mother" who looks after us in the canteen, to make sure everything was sterilised.

You have to be careful. Crewe had to close their training ground this week after their goalkeeper, Ben Williams, fell ill with suspected viral meningitis.

3. We're not big enough for Cardiff

So I've got my experienced midfielder but we're still in the market for a striker. We asked about Kenny Miller, but while Wolves were happy with our offer Kenny has got bigger fish to fry. Then we asked Cardiff about Cameron Jerome.

We offered £1.5m and another £500,000 if we went up. For a 19-year-old it was possibly £600-£700,000 too much. Obviously Sam Hammam, their chairman, didn't agree. He made a few comments on our "little club", on Sheffield United not being big enough to sign his striker. Comments like this disappoint me at times, but jealousy makes people say things that should be kept in-house. It's a funny emotion.

Sam says he'll get £5m and the player will only go to a top Premiership club. I don't think he's looking for an auction but there's no way any club will pay more than we've offered. We were told by some at Cardiff it was a good offer - it must be quite political down there.

When we tried to get Peter Thorne pre-season we had to speak to three different people about him. Obviously they didn't want to deal with a little club, he went to Norwich instead.

4. Styles has style

Being ill meant I was able to watch both Carling Cup semis. I loved the Blackburn-Manchester United game - especially as I got Corrie in first. And the best player on pitch was? None other than Rob Styles. I thought he was brilliant. When you look how he's improved over the last few years it shows how referees can improve with experience. Rob now knows how players feel and how they react. You have to have that to get their understanding.

5. Newcastle United are not for me

Finally there's one big job I won't be going in for: Newcastle, if Graeme Souness has to leave. You might ask why. The answer is I read Graeme was reprimanded by his chairman for going out with his wife on her birthday instead of going to a reserve team match.

I would categorically do the same and risk the wrath of my chairman. As Graeme says, you see enough of your players without going to reserve games on the wife's birthday.

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