Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week

1. Beckham has his worth but England must sacrifice stars in quest for greater excitement
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The Independent Online

You know my feelings about England and nothing changed this week. I'm not sure who is to blame but there's nothing there that excites me. France weren't much better, although they were obviously technically superior. What Fabio Capello can do about this I don't know, but the fact that he can't speak English yet is probably a bonus. If we produced that kind of excitement – or rather the lack of it – at Selhurst Park, we'd get slaughtered. I think the fans travel just to get their stickers, the ones that count towards tournament tickets.

You can count the number of exciting England games in the past 20 years on one hand. Capello said he was pleased but then what else is he going to say? I think the answer is going to be dropping some of the big names and bringing in so-called lesser players for more excitement. England had no pace whatsoever in the first half. David Beckham won his 100th cap, and good for him. My view is that he's someone who has still got a part to play, even if not from the start of games. With the quality of his free-kicks and crosses, I can see him being used as a substitute.

2. Written in the stars

I was fascinated to read in The Independent this week how France's coach, Raymond Domenech, uses astrology to help him pick players. I couldn't do that with mine. Most of them don't even know when their own birthday is!

I don't use any funny stuff like that, I just do my homework. Having said that, I've just looked up the character traits for my sign, Sagittarius. It says "witty conversationalist, free-spirited, intelligent, positive, honest, reliable, enterprising, temperamental and impatient". Thinking about it, that sums me up to a tee. So I've asked Mick Jones to investigate which signs I should sign ... as if!

3. Arsenal, winners even when they are losers

I loved watching Chelsea-Arsenal last weekend, especially after watching Manchester United v Liverpool, where the outcome did not surprise me whatsoever. United were much the better team. And after the Ashley Cole situation, did no one at Liverpool tell their foreign players to be careful with the referee? Steve Bennett is a stickler who doesn't need two chances to show a card. But they didn't tell Javier Mascherano and he got sent off.

In the Chelsea game, referee Mark Clattenburg had a good game, showing common sense. He might have got the odd booking wrong but it was as good a refereeing job as I've seen this season. As for the match, there was great commitment from both teams. I admire Chelsea for their ability to grind out results, and when they needed it they resorted to the long ball for the last 20 minutes.

That proved Arsenal's Achilles heel but their fans must still be dead proud. Never in my career have I ever felt like this about a team but if I was an Arsenal fan, I wouldn't be bothered if they actually won nothing. They are a team you want to take young lads to watch, or your mates, just to see them. Arsène Wenger must be so proud, if disappointed, although I think they are capable of doing something in the Champions League.

While I was watching the game, my daughter Amy said: "Aren't Arsenal very dramatic?" And then later: "And Chelsea are naughty, aren't they?" How does a nine-year-old come out with something like that? Maybe she has been listening to me too much.

4. Cut the backchat by cutting points

For all the perceptions of what my teams are like, I guarantee that if you talk to referees, 99 per cent of them would be impressed by the way my Palace players have conducted themselves this season. There's been very little dissent, and no over-the-top, studs-up tackles. My lads play it the right way, and in the current climate everyone needs to. We have had one of our regular meetings of the League Managers' Association this week and the message was passed on that officials will not be tolerating bad behaviour. What might have got a booking, or not even that, a few weeks ago, is going to be a red card now.

The way it's going, a deduction of points will be introduced. For example, a one-point penalty if three players crowd a ref. It would certainly stop that kind of thing in an instant. And I'd support it.

5. Hillsborough Heaven

It is always special to take a team to Hillsborough, and never more so than last weekend with Palace. I had to run the gauntlet before the game. The coach couldn't get under the canopy and we had to walk the last 40 yards to the entrance. There were a few names called, but it was funny how many Wednesdayites had my book, asking me to sign it. With a mischievous grin, I asked every one whether they also wanted me to pose with them for a picture.

It was quite a few minutes before the home fans started asking who I bank with! Then when they went 2-1 up with 20 minutes to go, there was a barrage of "Warnock, Warnock, what's the score?" You'd think they would have learned by now, especially from earlier in the season when we scored the winner in the last minute. So when we scored last Saturday in the last 20 seconds for 2-2, yes, I did punch the air. But when I looked to see those who had been giving me stick, they'd gone.

6. Brighton rocks

We had a family day out on Easter Monday. We took the tram to Croydon and the train to Brighton. I didn't realise how keen the rivalry was between Palace and Brighton until I went to buy some fish and chips. The bloke serving me told me he was a Brighton fan, and he didn't look too happy to see me. I did wonder what he'd put on my chips...

Talking of Brighton, I scored the best goal of my career there, for Rotherham. Palace fans probably won't like me saying this, but I'm pleased Brighton have got their new ground on the way. In the next few years I think we'll see what sleeping giants they have been.

The family dog, Percy, came with us to Brighton. He's a griffon. When he gets tired, we put him in the haversack, but while Sharon and Amy were off shopping, me and William, who's six, took him for a walk on his lead along the promenade. What must we have looked like? Especially in Brighton. Let's just say it isn't Wakefield. I said to William: "In my time, you can be sure I wouldn't be walking a dog here unless it was a golden labrador, or an alsatian."

7. Loan stars

Thursday was a hectic day of dealing with the deadline for loan signings. We managed to get in three players: Kyel Reid from West Ham, Nathan Ashton from Fulham and Chelsea's Scott Sinclair. I'm delighted we've got Scott. I tried to sign him when I was at Sheffield United and earlier at Palace, but he went on loan to QPR, and then, recently, Charlton. They've not been playing him so Chelsea have let him come to us.

Charlton's loss is our gain, and I'm delighted to have him on board. I did have to get my sunglasses out in training, though, when the sun shone on his bright orange boots. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we get kaleidoscope or strobe footwear. My biggest worry is when centre-halves start wearing orange boots and thinking they can play.

My first game as the Palace manager was in October at Blackpool, who are today's visitors to Selhurst Park. We've both improved since, and it's a good chance to see how far we have come. I said at the start of the season I thought they would surprise a few and I'm pleased to see Simon Grayson get them towards safety. They got a draw at Stoke last weekend and we will take nothing for granted.

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