Neil Warnock: You've got to love an ice bath incident – even if you're the one getting wet
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 08 May 2010
I had an unusual longing this week to have an ice bath tipped over my head.
Watching Harry being drenched by his team on Wednesday I was jealous. As wet as he got he will not have felt it at all. The adrenalin of achieving something like that – a Champions League place with a win at your main rivals – is unbelievable. It just shows why people like me, Harry, Alex Ferguson and all the other sixtysomethings in management, still do it. Watching those scenes made me think, "I want some more of that next season."
I speak to Harry quite a lot and we have a good laugh over the hype that can surround young managers. They were flavour of the month a few years ago but we'd say, "Wait until they have a few problems, let's see how they deal with them." It's no coincidence most top managers are senior in years. You should never underestimate the value of experience, and good old-fashioned man- management.
I've never had an ice bath tipped over me but I do remember being slung in the Wembley bath after winning a play-off final with Huddersfield. It was a good thing too, it was the only way that I could get my underpants washed. They were my lucky pair and we'd gone about 17 games without losing.
2. I felt for Stockport even as my QPR lads won a trophy
I am celebrating my first trophy as manager of QPR. However, I can't claim any credit, that goes to Marc Bircham and Kevin Gallen, whose academy lads won the final of Football League Alliance League on Thursday. They beat Stockport County 4-3 after trailing 3-1. I have to admit, though, that Stockport were looking comfortable when they had a lad sent off. He'd been playing well but was booked for a tackle. Soon after we tried to take a quick free-kick, he stood his ground and the ball hit him. Off he went. Even though it helped my team, I thought it was wrong that a player should be sent off for such a trivial offence. He shouldn't have done it but it was disproportionate. There should be an amber card to sin-bin him. It was a very tough lesson to learn.
The Stockport lads and their supporters were a real credit to a team which has been relegated, is in administration, and has a pitch that looks like a poughed field – so heaven knows what the pitch is like the kids play on. I'm sure there will be a lot of clubs looking at those young players.
3. Pleased for Palace but security must be improved
The game of the weekend for me was Sheffield Wednesday v Palace last Sunday. I desperately wanted Palace to win, and not because it was Wednesday who would be relegated. I just wanted Palace to stay up. They have so many good pros. Men like Julian Speroni, Paddy McCarthy, Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Alan Lee you'd want in the trenches with you. And boy, did they all need to play well to come out of that game with their Championship status intact.
The pitch invasion was worrying. The trouble at Hillsborough, and at Luton, showed how vulnerable players and managers are. I was attacked at Ashton Gate a couple of seasons ago after a play-off match – and then we'd lost. It's a 60-yard walk from dugout to tunnel and it was one of the most uncomfortable situations I've found myself in. I am genuinely concerned that, one day, a manager or player will be seriously injured. It only takes one nutter with a knife. Clubs have to ensure there is enough security, especially at places like Bristol City – or Palace, where the tunnel is a long way from the dugout. The alternative is to play at neutral grounds.
4. Coleman could be good fit
There were another two casualties among Championship managers this week, Chris Coleman at Coventry and Paul Mariner at Plymouth. Chris would be a fantastic manager for Crystal Palace with his club connections. Dougie Freedman must also be considered, having helped save them. Why not both together? Whoever ends up owning the club would have to go a long way to do better.
5. Braced for big dental bill
As you can imagine, with my mouth, I've had a few problems with dentists but when we went this week Amy was the centre of attention. She has to have a brace, a see-through one. I didn't realise I would have to remortgage the house to pay for it. I've since sat both the kids down and told them to study dentistry.
6. I know all about six appeal
What a game that was at Motherwell. Six-six, and they were 6-2 down against Hibs! The nearest I've come to that was when I was managing Huddersfield. We went 4-1 up at Wrexham. We missed an open goal, then their keeper pulled out a 'worldie'. We should have been leading 6-1. Instead they scored three and with two minutes to go we were hanging on.
7. Will's mate gets the vote
The result of the election is in. The election at Will's school. The lad he voted for, who had campaigned on a manifesto of "no homework", won by a landslide. So there was no homework that day for all the school. Give the voters what they want, that's the secret.
8. Switch on to Stevenage
I'm covering the FA Trophy final between Stevenage v Barrow at Wembley tomorrow for ITV. I can't wait. I've such great memories of playing Barrow when I was manager at Burton, and as a player with Scunthorpe. I also took a team to Stevenage in the FA Cup. It was the best playing surface I'd ever encountered apart from Wembley (the old one, obviously). I've looked out for their results since and I think they will be a great addition to the League.
My gaffers of the year
It is the annual League Managers' Association dinner on Monday when we recognise one of our number. But one is not enough, so here are my own divisional awards:
In the Premier League, it has to be Roy Hodgson. He's had a fantastic season. I wish him and his players luck in Wednesday's Europa League final. The only problem is that Roy has now raised expectations so high they'll probably want him out next season if Fulham don't get into the Champions League.
I'm torn between Nigel Pearson at Leicester and Blackpool's Ian Holloway, but if I had to pick one it would be Ollie. He's had so little cash compared to his promotion rivals. In the play-offs Blackpool can now just go out and enjoy themselves, and that makes them dangerous.
When Swindon lost their first game 5-0 at Gillingham I bet not many people thought they would now be challenging for automatic promotion. Danny Wilson has done a great job against the odds. Norwich are another example of how misleading the opening day can be, they lost 7-1. I'm delighted for Delia they are back up, I've so much time for her, and her mum. I'd also like to give a mention to Andy Scott at Brentford. He's had a great season on a limited budget.
This time I can't split two managers, Keith Hill and Eddie Howe. Notts County have done remarkably well but Keith and Eddie have overseen the two most romantic stories of the season. Keith played for me at Plymouth. He had long hair, wore scruffy clothes and I would never have thought he would make a manager; but then, how many of my team-mates would have thought I would? Not many. I can imagine Keith thinking of his players, "Don't do as I did, do as I say." To get Rochdale promoted for the first time in 41 years, and playing wonderful football, is a great achievement.
Eddie is a young man taking on Bournemouth, a club in administration who were sometimes unable to field a full squad. To come through that and get promotion playing a style of football fans must love is a marvellous testament to him. Special mention goes to Paul Peschisolido who has done so well in his first season as a manager with my old club Burton Albion, staying up in comfort.
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