Neil Warnock: ‘I haven’t had a fair crack of the Premier League whip’

first_imgCardiff City Share on LinkedIn Liam Rosenior Read more Share on Facebook Intensity of Cardiff v Wolves will show just how much promotion means There is an element to Warnock’s motivation that is different. For most people the reward of promotion is playing in the Premier League with all the attendant status, riches and glory, but for Warnock a big part of the goal is simply the promotion. If there was a way of winning promotion from the Championship but playing the following season in the same division, Warnock might take it. “Yeah, it wouldn’t bother me at all,” he says.He is also still motivated by the usual things. Like proving a point. “I don’t feel I’ve had a fair crack of the whip in the Premier League, given the circumstances,” he says, going on to explain the difficulties at Queens Park Rangers in 2011, the summer after promotion. The club were in the process of being sold to Tony Fernandes, which delayed the most significant transfer business until the last week of the window.“I had four or five very good players at my house willing to sign, then in the end they said I couldn’t sign anybody,” he says. Pinches of salt should be taken here: they signed six players before those final few days, albeit none of blinding quality and three on free transfers. But clearly the circumstances were not ideal and the grievance holds: Warnock was sacked in January of that season. “It was terrible really, having got promoted, having the carpet pulled from under you,” he says.“Then Sheffield United, obviously the Carlos Tevez situation didn’t help, but before that when we got promoted, within 24 hours I got a letter from the club saying they were going to take my option up but with no increase in wages, just incentives. That knocked me for six.”He does not even mention the brief spell at Crystal Palace in 2014 but presumably he would cite extenuating circumstances there too: it is easy to think these are just gripes, that he is making excuses for poor performances in the top flight. It is possible Warnock is not suited to, or perhaps is not a good enough manager for, the Premier League, but he wants another crack at it.Yet here lies another contradiction, in that if it did not happen, Warnock would not be overly upset. He had essentially retired in 2016 when Rotherham persuaded him to haul them out of relegation trouble, and success there reignited something. “That was the turning point in my football career. It was fantastic. I started to think: ‘By gum, I enjoy this.’”When managers of his vintage renew their enthusiasm like that, it can go one of two ways: either they try to reclaim their past and play a young man’s game or, free from pressures of having to prove themselves or build a career, they can manage more freely, unshackled by expectation. They are there because they want to be rather than because they have to be. Not long after Neil Warnock was named the Cardiff manager, his wife, Sharon, made a startling discovery. “She rang me and said: ‘I’ve got some news. I’ve just been on the fanzines at Cardiff – they all like you. I can’t believe it.’ I said: ‘Darling, some people do, you know.’”They have plenty of cause to like Warnock now. Cardiff, with a squad who look like an island of lost toys in a division where money has flowed freely, are five points clear of third-placed Fulham with a game in hand. On Friday night they host the leaders, Wolves, then on Tuesday visit Aston Villa, who are fourth. Barring a calamity, Cardiff will win promotion to the Premier League. Not bad considering they were second bottom when Warnock arrived in October 2016.The promotion, if it comes, would be the 69-year-old’s eighth, a record. But there seems to be a contradiction in a manager who will tell you he much prefers the “muck and nettles” of the Championship to the Premier League, trying his best to get out of the division. Championship Neil Warnock interviewscenter_img No disrespect to Cardiff but they probably needed me more than I needed them when I was appointed’Neil Warnock Share on Twitter It is easy to see into which category Warnock falls. “No disrespect to Cardiff but they probably needed me more than I needed them, when I was appointed. The sack doesn’t worry me. When you’re younger, you have three or four bad results and you worry about everything. You worry about injuries, because they always seem to be your best players. I used to take it home with me: ‘What am I going to do? He’s out for a month, I can’t see where the next goal or point is coming from.’ At my age, I don’t give these things the time of day.”Combine that with a club who were not expected to challenge (certainly for automatic promotion) this season, and you get a pretty free and easy atmosphere. “I said to Vincent [Tan, the Cardiff owner] the other day: ‘We’re almost in the play‑offs guaranteed, so if we didn’t win automatic we’d be in the play-offs. And if we didn’t win the play-offs we’d have another go next year.’ He was OK with that. I’m not saying that underneath he’s not desperate to get back, I’m sure he is, but they’ve not put any pressure on me, the board.”It is worth pointing out that Cardiff are not total outsiders: they have been frequent dark-horse tips for the play-offs. Nor are they paupers, having spent £6m on Gary Madine and nearly £3m on Lee Tomlin, though in a classic Warnockian move they swapped the latter for Jamie Ward, football’s answer to Scrappy-Doo, in a January loan deal.But at the same time there are not many other managers who could have got Cardiff where they are now. Victory over Wolves would put them within three points of the runaway leaders. “We weren’t supposed to be here,” Warnock says. “If we didn’t do anything else for the rest of the season, our fans would clap us off, because they’ve had a great year. It really is a massive bonus.” Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Share on Messenger Reuse this content Topicslast_img read more

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