Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

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The Independent Online

1. I would have chosen Redknapp for England but like Clough, he does not tick the right boxes. Congratulations to the new England coach, Fabio Capello. I don't really think the FA had much choice. It was obvious they didn't fancy any Englishmen and, as I said in my column a few weeks ago, I felt Jose Mourinho was using the situation to flush somebody out. With his winning mentality and experience Capello must be held in the highest regard; to have people like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger sanction his appointment shows people who know what they are doing agree with it.

I'm not convinced we need to pay 4m, though, I think he wants the job. But with not many alternatives the FA have got to bend over backwards.

I can see where John Barnwell is coming from when he says it sends out a bad message to English managers the League Managers Association has got to defend their own coaches, but I don't think John has a blindfold on. He knows what happens media-wise to British coaches. The only one who seems to have been prepared to accept all that goes with the job is Harry Redknapp, and things over the last few weeks put a dent in his chances. He was the only one to not give two hoots about the press. If I am honest I think he would have done a better job than Capello but, like when Brian Clough was turned down, Harry doesn't tick the right boxes.

There's been talk about the style of football Capello's teams play but I'd rather see us win than entertain. You can't tell me we've been playing entertaining football that often anyway: in the last 15 years I can only think of two games the 5-1 win over Germany, and the 4-1 over the Netherlands in Euro '96.

I've never come across him myself. As I don't suppose we'll see him in the Championship my only chance is if I bump into him in a posh Italian restaurant in London.

2. What kind of book?

I went into WH Smith this week to get one of my books for somebody at the ground. I didn't have any at home. So I walked confidently up to the manageress and said, "Have you got my book in, called Made in Sheffield?" She said, "What kind of book is it?". I said it was "about football, really". She said, "I don't think so, but we are all mad football fans". My eyes lit up. Then she said, "We all support Crystal Palace". She had no idea who I was. I told them to get some copies in for the Christmas rush.

3. Questions for Blues

I was pleased to see Avram Grant sign a four-year deal. The quality, end-to-end football and excitement that Chelsea have shown since Jose Mourinho departed warrants his reward. It shows what a bad judge of football I am, as I don't think they have changed very much.

Maybe they will turn it on tomorrow in the second of two cracking matches between the top four. They couldn't come at a better time, there are so many questions unanswered. I felt Manchester United were lucky to win at Liverpool last year but I think that result, and being so strong, was a decisive factor in their winning the league.

In the other game Arsene has got to have a few doubts in his mind about Arsenal's current form in the Premier. Still, I wish I had the same doubts as he and the other top four managers have. It must be fantastic managing a squad of players like they have.

Incidentally, this weekend is probably the only one when every team outside the top four thinks they can win.

4. Amy's interest

I saw William in his nativity play this week. He played a handsome shepherd. I'm sure he did that last year too, so I'm a bit worried he's getting typecast, but he had more of a speaking role this time.

At these things you never look at the other kids, do you? Just your own. It was the same at the carol service which William and Amy were both in.

I also saw the Palace kids in the FA Youth Cup. It was a chance to see some of the lads I've used in the first team playing their own age-group. They got a good result against Hull and play Leicester in the next round. I thought William might come but he wanted to cuddle up with his mum and watch a video. To my surprise Amy volunteered to come and watch the boys instead. I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything I should know, but she is only nine.

5. Tasty fare at Xmas

I'm expecting a good reception from the away support at Selhurst Park today. We're playing my old friends Sheffield Wednesday. It's the first of a cracking run of fixtures for me. Next up are an old club Plymouth, then Coventry, whose manager, Iain Dowie, is well-known at Selhurst, then Sheffield United. If my turkey is as tasty as them, I'm in for a good Christmas day.

We've also got the parties. I'm pleased to say the players have had theirs, in Brighton, and it all went off quietly. They asked me in the last international break if they could have it then and I was happy to agree so I don't have it to worry about leading into the Christmas programme. The parties this week are the staff do, and the junior eagles.

7. No justice for Bangura

What a travesty it is that Al Bangura, of Watford, has not been granted permission to stay in the country. This is a kid who had a horrific upbringing, but has gone on to make something of his life. He's got a great job, a partner, he's just become a dad. I imagine he's paying a fair bit of tax. I can't see the logic of sending him back to Sierra Leone. Where's the justice in that?

I wish him well in his appeal. Surely there's somebody in Government who can see the logic.

8. FA shows sense

Who said the FA do not have any common sense? I received a letter this week telling me they will be taking no further action regarding my "sending-off" at Queen's Park Rangers. I do wonder though, if there's anyone out there who's disappointed by their verdict!

PS: Come on, Palace!

I thought Northerners did not have any money compared to people down South, but last year a Sheffield United fan paid £3,500 to join me and the squad for training, and lunch afterwards, in The Independent's Christmas Charity Auction. As of yesterday morning the best bid from a Palace fan to do the same this season was £275. Come on, Palace fans, it's all in a good cause: open your wallets. The Blades fan last season had a great day, you can too.

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