Neil Warnock: I turned down Zamora – but what do I know about strikers?

What I Learnt This Week

Saturday 20 March 2010 01:00

What a fantastic game and super result for Fulham on Thursday. It just shows what you can do with the right attitude, and, when you look at the way Juventus played, what can happen to you with the wrong attitude. A few rounds ago I don't suppose Fulham were bothered one way or the other about the Europa League and they were fielding weakened teams. Having almost secured Premier League football next season they can now give the competition a full whack and are really going for it.

It looked and sounded like a great atmosphere. Craven Cottage is still one of the great football grounds, though I do wonder what some of the Juventus players thought of it with the cottage and the dressing rooms. I can remember playing there at the beginning of my career, with Chesterfield, and a few parts don't seem to have changed.

Thinking about England, Bobby Zamora is the nearest thing there is to another Emile Heskey, more than Carlton Cole. I could have had him on loan when he went to Brighton about 10 years ago. I'd just taken over at Sheffield United and he was out of favour at Bristol Rovers. I thought he was a bit lazy for me but he did well on loan at Brighton so they signed him and later sold him to Spurs for £1.5m. Now he's all over Fabio Cannavaro and might play for England. But that's typical, I'm absolutely useless at spotting strikers, though I think he works harder now.

While I was disappointed for Chelsea to go out in the week's other big European game I have to say my admiration and respect for Jose Mourinho softened the blow. Given he had a somewhat lesser side on paper, it does show you how important the manager is. Chelsea dominated that first game and were unlucky to lose 2-1, but the organisation of Inter at Stamford Bridge, and the pressure they put on made for a frustrating evening for Chelsea and another notch on Jose's CV.

2. Don't send referees out until they are ready

I had to smile when I saw Michael Brown's comments regarding Steven Gerrard's forearm smash, that if it had been the other way around he would definitely have got a three-game ban. He's got a point.

Now I know the rules are that, if the referee sees an incident, the FA can't do anything about it, yet when you see things like that it makes you think ill of the system. That incident apart, I do think Stuart Attwell has improved since his unfortunate goal that never was last year. While on the subject of young referees we had one at Reading the other night, Mr Ward.

He'd only done four games this year. I know referees need to gain experience, but why send him into a derby when he's not ready for it? Do they look at the fixtures? The Madejski, like Loftus Road, can be intimidating and it is wrong to put refs in situations they're not ready for.

We lost (a penalty and a sending-off since you ask) but our performance was good. The other bonus was that at least I could get a haircut. I've needed one for a couple of weeks – I don't know if all managers are the same, but when I'm on a decent run I tend not to bother. I'm looking a bit smarter now.

3. William provided me with the win this week

QPR were not the only club I managed this week. I was delighted to turn up for William's last game to find the teacher taking the school's other team. I got hold of William's team and was soon telling them what to do. It reminded me of when I played at Hartlepool and managed a group of scruffy urchins who had knocked on my door and asked if I could come training. I ended up coaching them and will never forget them scoring with a corner kick we worked on and running up and down the touchline celebrating.

I felt the same on Wednesday when the lads put up a great performance in winning 3-0. William was captain and he cracked home a penalty which set them off. Then young James got two. We had a team photograph to mark it, although isn't it unbelievable in this modern age where we have to make sure we have all the parents' permission first?

Amy's been just as sporty, she's been doing the triathlon: running, swimming, and shooting. With a real pistol. I'll have to find out if it is live ammunition before I next tell her off.

4. Sharon gets shirty to the hospice's delight

Since the move I've been doing some driving. From QPR's training ground to home takes anything from an hour and 10 minutes to two-and-a-half hours. Each way. I can't carry on like that so we are moving. It's one of the downsides of this job, and many others in the world, that you move a lot. We've not been in this house long and we're moving to a smaller house, so Sharon is trying to get the packing done and she's taking a very close look at my stuff. Apparently I'm a hoarder. There are boxes that have not been opened since four houses ago, but I've told her, "Don't you dare go throwing them away."

She's been going through my wardrobes too, shouting at me to get rid of some shirts. She's been desperate for me to get rid of these short-sleeved ones I bought when I was in China with Sheffield United. I finally succumbed and St Christopher's Hospice now has about 35 shirts of mine still with the tags on. Hurry, while stocks last.

5. Man-mark Rooney – it worked against Giggs

Driving up and down the motorway I've been listening to a lot of radio. I had to laugh during a debate as to who is better, Rooney or Messi, when Darren Gough said: "How can you say he is great when he has only got one foot?" I thought, I wish all my players had got a foot like that. Older readers will remember people used to say the same about Norman Hunter, but when you have a left foot like theirs you don't need a right foot. Incidentally, why is it we only say this about left-footed players?

They asked me on Match of the Day 2 last week how I would deal with Rooney. I think I'd try and man-mark him, make it 10 v 10. I'm surprised no one does, though it is a dying art. Alongside me on the sofa was some one who could have done it, Martin Keown. I still do occasionally. Against Reading in midweek I went 9 v 9 with the full-backs marking their wingers.

At Notts County we played Manchester United and man-marked all over the pitch. They were lucky to get a draw. I remember a young Ryan Giggs asking Chris Short, who was following him everywhere: "Just what is it you want?"

6. I wouldn't know if we had plenty in reserve

We had our first reserve-team match since I joined QPR this week, against Crystal Palace. It was strange knowing the opposition better than my own team – quite a few of them I'd barely seen as I've had to concentrate on the first team. There were some decent performances and as soon as we're safe I'll be looking to give the lads here permanently a chance – at the moment we are picking five loan players. Unfortunately, it was a home game so instead of hopping over the fence I had to travel across London.

We're playing Swansea today, managed by Paulo Sousa, one of my predecessors at QPR. I'll have to tell him to calm down. Last time we were in opposition at Loftus Road he was sent to the stands. He's done a fabulous job at Swansea, building on the good work by Roberto Martinez, not making big changes, just putting his own character on them. They are the best side Palace played this season and I fancy them for the play-offs.

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