Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. Missing out on signing tasty Polish striker leaves me struggling on the restaurant front
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The Independent Online

Apologies for not doing a column last week but by the time the transfer deadline closed I was wiped out. It must have been my longest day in management. My secretary, Donna, was in the office until 11pm. We had a couple of international players lined up but we missed out on both, one on a work permit, one when his club moved the goalposts late on.

One of them was this Polish player I've been after. That's partly because he looks a decent forward, but it's mainly because this new Polish restaurant has opened on our way into Sheffield and I wanted to take him along to translate the menu.

I actually went there with Sharon, my wife, on deadline night. Yes, I know it sounds bad. Leave the secretary in the office and go out for dinner. But it's the only time she's ever been in the office later than me. I'd had enough, I'd been on the phone all day. It gets such a scramble.

After we played at Fulham the previous Saturday I went straight to Heathrow to fly to Scotland to take in a match. I get on the plane and there are three other managers with the same idea.

We did sign Colin Kazim-Richards from Brighton. He's a young lad who's lost his way a little bit and now has to sort himself out if he wants to make the step up to the big time. He has lots of ability, he just needs to answer questions with his feet.

Not that he's alone. Sometimes I'm reminded of what Jimmy McGuigan said when he signed me at 19 for Chesterfield. "Son, there's a lot better players than you playing Sunday League football," he said, "but they haven't got what you've got under your shirt. A big heart." As in many walks of life, sometimes it is not just about ability.

2. Shoes can be more stressful to buy than centre-forwards

We managers talk about pressure on transfer deadline day but every now and again I get reminded I'm not the only one in the family to suffer a bit of stress.

That afternoon, in between all the phone calls from agents I got an irate phone call from Sharon. She had been to Meadowhall, Sheffield's giant shopping centre, to get our daughter Amy some shoes to go back to school in. She went to Charles Clinkard where they have a ticket system. She picked up a ticket to get served and found there were 80 numbers ahead of her. She had waited about one and a half hours, by which time there were still 20-odd numbers ahead of her, when little William, who's five, said he needed the toilet desperate. There was no toilet in the shop so she ran to the nearest one. With a five-year-old you don't wait.

She then ran back to find, perhaps because some people had given up waiting, they had gone past her number. She explained the situation and asked if she could be served. The woman just looked at her and said: "No, sorry, you have to get another ticket and wait."

A nice young man who had seen everything and overheard offered Sharon his ticket. At this another shop assistant interrupted to tell them that was not allowed. Sharon is normally quite placid, but by this stage she had steam coming out of her ears. She dragged both the kids out saying: "We'll never come here again, ever."

So when I went to get my haircut on Saturday, as we had no game, I was able to walk down the road with my family and pick some shoes from our local shop. The moral is "support your local shop".

It has been pointed out it is a good job I wasn't there as I would not have been as restrained as Sharon. I did think it might have helped, on the basis that it's sometimes about who you are and they might have been Unitedites. Then I realised they were that miserable they must have been from the other part of the city.

3. Andorra. Why?

The international break brought home to everyone what a waste of time games like Andorra are. After the initial few minutes I couldn't bring myself to watch it. I've never been as embarrassed for a game and I'm sure the Football Association were. If I'd spent £50-£100 on a ticket to watch that I'd be questioning whether I'd go to another game like it again.

There must be some way to seed it so you don't get abnormalities like that, and Germany's 13-0 win over San Marino, but I expect it is all to do with money and politics.

I fancy Sheffield United would have scored more than five against Andorra. Sometimes it's actually more difficult for the top players to overcome a team with 11 in their own half. In fact, I reckon the Sunday League side I used to manage in Todwick would have got more. And now they are talking about Gibraltar coming in. What next, the Isle of Wight?

I gave my lads a couple days off during the break. Playing three games in a week at this level really takes it out of you. Rest can be as important as working on the training ground. In my day as a player that would have been the excuse to head off to Scarborough. Now one of the lads went to Marbella and another would have gone to Dubai, only he couldn't spell it.

4. I could be the next Harrison Ford

During the break I've been doing a bit of acting. I've taken a part in a short film being shot in Sheffield. I can't reveal yet what character I play but I know it'll get some publicity when I do. The only clue I'll give is that I might be needing the help of his boss during the season.

It was fun but even though the crew were great it does make you nervous doing something you're not used to. I did like the idea of being able to reshoot whenever the director is not happy. It would be nice to be able to do that in matches.

5. Chelsea should have said nowt

The big talking point this week has been the row between Chelsea and William Gallas. I don't think I've ever had a player threaten to score an own goal, as Chelsea claim Gallas did, though one or two have said some silly things. A player doesn't have to score an own goal to show he wants to get away. You can usually tell by the way they train.

I do think Chelsea have made themselves look petty and small-minded. Whatever Gallas did or did not say, they would have been better off saying nothing. It was unnecessary and it has backfired on them.

6. I'll enjoy being back in hollering range

I'll be on the bench in the Premiership for the first time at my home ground today, having been banned for our opening game. I am looking forward to it. I feel I can influence things so much more. My wide players, the ones most in earshot, might not be so happy, though. I'll be checking the likes of Paul Ifill and Chris Armstrong for earplugs before they go out.

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