Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

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The Independent Football

1. Newcastle need a character like Harry after Big Sam is beaten by the nearly impossible job

I was shocked this week when Big Sam Allardyce left Newcastle United after 24 games. It doesn't seem a long time to me for anyone to start turning a club around, but for us managers now time is a scarce commodity. It looks like the chairman had run out of faith in Sam, and only one person can leave when that happens. But I am sure the big man will bounce back.

It does seem like a nearly impossible job. Without a doubt the club is big enough to be top four, but over the last five or six years they don't seem to have got the level of consistency, and quality of player, required to give them a chance of going forward and competing with the elite.

They have fantastic support but that can be a burden as well as a blessing. It creates a level of expectation. I remember last year winning there with Sheffield United. There were demonstrations outside the ground afterwards. Perhaps Kevin Keegan spoilt it for everyone with his gung-ho tactics, which made for wonderful viewing. Without a doubt the Geordies do want a certain style. That is possibly the hardest expectation to fulfil because when you go to a new club your first priority is to stop the goals, try to be hard to beat, and get a system. Then you look to make the team more exciting. Twenty-four games is a bit short to get all that done.

I don't think Joey Barton's escapade helped Sam at all, after Sam had asked his board to trust him. I am sure Sam feels really let down by Joey because he could have been, and is, a very influential player, good enough to get in any Premier League team and I thought he was a good signing when they did it.

I am not surprised to see Harry Redknapp being linked with the job. When you look around the country now, if you want a British manager I don't think you can look anywhere else, and I think it needs a character like Harry. After the flak he has taken leaving Portsmouth for Southampton, then back to Portsmouth, this would seem like a stroll in the park.

If I had any advice for Alan Shearer it would be, "Keep your day job". The experience you need for a job like that you can only get by being a manager.

2. Bright youngsters are happy to wait

I have been delighted to sign three players this week. One, John Halls, I've brought in on loan from Reading for a month. He will help with a number of injuries we have had. John , when he was coming through at Arsenal a few years ago, looked as if he had a fantastic future. The big signings have been two 17-year-olds from within our camp, Lee Hills and Sean Scannell, who over the last two months have attracted many centimetres in national newspapers, with everyone telling us where they were going and for how many millions. I'm just delighted they listened to me – I spoke to their families on numerous occasions – as I think it is right for both players to continue their football education at Palace.

3. The word from on high may be nigh

We've been busy finding out more benefits of living in London. Last Sunday we went to Hyde Park. It was the last day of the Winter Wonderland. We went there and then walked around some sights. You don't realise until you come down here how close everything is. We took two scooters to help us get around – me and William went on them most. We went to Speaker's Corner and, when I saw the bloke with the banner reading "the end is nigh", I felt like asking if he knew something I didn't. Had he been talking to the chairman?

4. William so focused on training goals

Monday was the last day of the school holidays so William came into training with me. At 6.45am he came into our bedroom, all dressed in training kit and with his boots on. He was pulling the curtains, shouting, "C'mon, dad, get up".

I was busy signing Lee and Sean so I asked Jim Stannard, our goalkeeping coach, to keep an eye on him. I forgot about William for two hours. Then I remembered and rushed outside in a panic, thinking "where is he?" I found him on the top training ground diving about, with Jim taking penalties at him. I don't know who enjoyed it more.

"How's it gone, William?" I asked. He said, "Dad, Big Jim's been brilliant". There was rain, wind, and he was covered in mud up to his eyeballs, like one of those kids in washing powder adverts. Any day I expect him to ask when Big Jim is coming round for tea and to play in the garden.

When it got to about half-three I figured I should take him home, as he'd been up so early. "No, dad," he said, "the academy starts at five o'clock". I was ready for bed myself but I took him along to play with our Under-eights. He was running around for an hour and really enjoyed it. The coaches need patience at that age, because the kids' attention wanders, but I've already noticed William's concentration is improving. There's a lot of emphasis on technique, which is right. They have obviously got a good system here because there's good kids at all ages, up to the kids I've thrown into the first team.

5. Cream can always rise to the top

I was interested to see The Independent's survey this week of the best players outside the Premier League. Like Chris Kamara I think there are a lot of Championship players who could play well in certain teams in the Premier League. That certainly applies to the player of mine who was listed, Ben Watson, and to Tom Soares, who must have been close to inclusion. They could play for anyone outside the top six.

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