The lure of an “old-fashioned football club” tempted an old-fashioned football man to leave his family and his tractor in Cornwall after 16 months and re-enter the madhouse of management, Neil Warnock has revealed.
The sense of “a little bit of unfinished business” was equally important in his decision to rejoin Crystal Palace, four years after leaving amid the mayhem of administration; but only with the seal of approval from his long-suffering wife, Sharon.
“I’ve had half a dozen offers in the last couple of years and even my wife was really pleased with this one,” he said. “We really enjoyed it here last time, though it didn’t finish off like I wanted it to. I had a few months just trying to keep the club afloat and it was a wrench leaving. But I feel very comfortable here.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to put something back, which you don’t often get. I felt like a young manager this morning, really excited and nervous.”
When he left, Palace, who had been docked 10 points, were in danger of relegation from the Championship. Now he takes over a team that confounded expectations by finishing 11th in the Premier League under Tony Pulis, who then left two days before the start of the season.
“If we can get three or four players in we can hold our own,” Warnock, 65, said. “Tony did a fantastic job and now we’ve to regroup and start looking to the future.”
Palace have done that by looking to the past and securing the return of winger Wilfried Zaha on a season’s loan following his unhappy spell at Manchester United.
“When you are a young man going to Manchester United, you can get a bit lost,” Warnock added. There is a lot more to come from him. I think it is the right fit for Wilfried.”
The same could well apply to the veteran of 13 different clubs and 34 years in management.