Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

My lousy reputation sees me sent to stands after making right mess of a touchline flick
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The Independent Football

I bet a few people, when they heard I had been sent off at Loftus Road in midweek, thought I must have been running down the line trying to break a player's leg while at the same time delivering a mouthful of foul and abusive language to both the referee and the fourth official, before turning to give a Churchill salute to the crowd.

Sorry to disappoint you all but I am embarrassed to admit I was asked to leave the field of play for a trivial misdemeanour. What's more, it's one I hadn't even committed. For those of you that weren't at the game, we were in the 90th minute when their goalkeeper came sprinting out of his goal to clear and made a bit of a cock-up of it, leaving himself out of goal.

As the ball went off near my technical area both Keith Curle, my coach, and myself sprinted out. It has to be disappointing for Keith that, at 59, I got there before him. However, I couldn't pick the ball up because I've got a sore hip as I said, I'm 59 now so I tried to flick it up to Clinton Morrison who was coming over to take a quick throw-in with their goalkeeper miles from his area. Unfortunately, and this might not surprise those who remember me playing, I took a bad touch and knocked it past him.

When Alan Wiley came over I expected a few words but I was dumbfounded when he sent me to the stands. While I can't tell you everything, because obviously charges will be forthcoming, I was disappointed but not surprised by the fourth official, who was adamant in getting Alan to ask me to leave the field of play.

I know Alan Wiley and think he will be quite embarrassed. I told him at the time, "I don't blame you at all." He is still the best referee in the country in my eyes.

I thought back to when Stuart Pearce did something similar last year, but it was Stuart Pearce, who has a good understanding with the Football Association. Hence a few words from the fourth official were deemed sufficient.

I saw a photograph the following morning which said everything I needed to know. There's me, Alan Wiley, and the fourth official, and it's obvious which one is enjoying the moment. I leave you to guess. I'm sure in years to come the picture will be used in someone's book, it'll probably be one of the highlights.

Afterwards I spoke to a former Football League ref who was there. He said: "That wouldn't have happened to anybody else but you." It didn't alter what was a very good win for us from a derby, I'm just disappointed the headlines were about me instead of a super performance by the players, once again after going behind.

The lads are really working hard for each other and we have put together a good run of results. As you read this we will all be in South Yorkshire ready to take on one of the teams of the season in Barnsley, another one of my old clubs. They are currently the best team in South Yorkshire a few years ago you would been able to put your mortgage on that not being a possibility.

You've got to give not only the manager, but the board, tremendous respect for what they have achieved. They lost their first game at home 4-1 to Coventry, but they have not lost since the beginning of September, 16 games now.

2. Razor-sharp reply from the missus

I ask all you gentlemen, why is it when your wives have their own razor, you always find your one in the shower? Is it just us? Then when I asked Sharon why she very cleverly said, "Because the last time you won a game I used it." Is that good or what?

3. My birthday treat a family guilt-trip

It was my birthday last Saturday so I had all the family, James and Natalie as well as William and Amy, at Selhurst Park for what was a great result for us against a West Bromwich Albion side I'm sure will be promoted. On a match day I don't eat after 10am I can't so by half-six, having done press and everything else, seen the visiting staff etc, I'm ravenous. I said, "Let's have a quick bite to eat at a restaurant." The kids said, "Can't we go home, we've been eating all afternoon." I had to give them the "It's me birthday", and just to tear at their conscience a bit more I added, "Think of all the things I do for you, take you to football training, take you to school." It worked, and I don't feel a bit guilty.

4. Stylish dive into the memory bank

I had to smile at the fuss which followed Rob Styles booking Cristiano Ronaldo for diving against Fulham at Old Trafford in midweek. It brought back a little memory from last season. As everyone knows the Sheffield United team I was then managing went down by one goal on goal difference. Late in the season we had the clearest penalty for handball at Old Trafford. It would have made it 2-1 to them with United down to 10 men. Who was the ref that day? None other than Mr Styles.

5. My Cup does not runneth over

I always look forward to the FA Cup third-round draw. And what a magical tie it produced for us: Watford away. As I said to the press on Monday, "It's mouth-watering isn't it?" I honestly think half of them believed me. No disrespect to Watford, but I'm sure they felt the same deflation when they got us. It'll be a decent game, but I can't see it being chosen for live TV.

6. No career in Korea for McCarthy

I don't blame Mick McCarthy for turning down an offer to coach the South Korean national team. South Korea have some wonderful players, but it takes a certain type to leave Europe to go to the Far East. And I'm sure Mick would have missed that good old English weather, the howling wind and driving rain we've had this week. Fantastic.

7. New man's view on football management

I've been struggling towards the end of this week because Sharon's been ill. I didn't think that was allowed. I was left rushing around trying to get all the right clothes for the kids, then getting them to wear them, fixing breakfast. I hear you saying, "Get prepared the night before", but Sharon didn't tell me she was going to get ill in the middle of the night. I love Amy and William dearly, but after 24 hours of doing everything for them I realise there's nothing to this football management lark.