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As anyone with a good knowledge of football would expect, Neil Warnock has led a colourful managerial life and this book is excellent at recounting his achievements and scrapes throughout his career.
As a Notts County fan, I am a huge fan of Neil Warnock for his extremely successful spell at Meadow Lane. I half expected that once I had read the chapter about his time in Nottingham, I would lose interest but this wasn't the case.
The book takes you right from the beginning during his childhood and finishes at his current club, Crystal Palace. He describes in detail his playing and managerial career and the various enemies he has encountered along the way - Arthur Cox and Stan Ternent to name a couple.
Whilst there is quite a lot of resentment and bitterness in this book from Warnock e.g. the Tevez saga whilst at Sheffield United, there is also unexpected praise for people you wouldn't expect - He devotes a whole chapter to referees and there are actually some that he has good things to say about!
Love or hate Warnock, this is a great read and is quite unique for current football autobiographies in that it tells the story of his whole life which is much more printworthy than a story about Wayne Rooney's life up to the age of 22!
Its clear from the book that Warnock has always been a grafter and even those who despise him may find themselves empathising with some of his gripes that he still holds today!
Please note - part of this review appears on my ciao page.
There are individuals in sports that only come around so often. People that get everyone talking whether it be how much they admire them or how much they dislike them; Neil Warnock fits this category perfectly. Controversy follows him everywhere, so it is fitting that he should produce an autobiography that i'm sure even those that hate him so much would be just a little intrigued to read.
This is the story of one of english domestic football's most succesful and controversial managers. It charts his life from humble beginnings in Sheffield through an unglamorous but respectable playing career to a managerial career littered with controversy, success and disappointment.
The dream of the Sheffield born man and Blades fan was always to manage his beloved Sheffield United and this dream was realised. He was hated by sections of his own teams support often but his team battled adversity to reach the promised land of the premiership - only to be denied by an extremely controversial turn of events involving Carlos Tevez, West Ham United and Manchester United which sparked a nationwide debate. This was followed by betrayal on the part of the board at the club.
This book is full of detailed accounts of success on the football pitch and confrontation off it. Whatever anybody thinks of the man and his somewhat dubious regard for other people, he has a proven track record and is fascinating to read about or watch. Anybody that his seen some of his bordering on hilarious interviews where he verbally attacks the referee of a match will attest to this view.
As a person with affiliation to Sheffield and the Blades (Sheffield United FC), this was a book I just could not miss out on. I was one of the fans in the camp of actually liking Warnock, but I was well aware that there are thousands that hate him with a passion, often fans of his own club of the time too.
This book actually made me start to hate the famous Sheffield actor Sean Bean due to an incident involving Bean and the Warnock family, but this is the sort of controversy that follows Warnock around and unfortunately sometmes filters into his private life.
It is a well written collabration of the minds of Neil Warnock himself and Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror and should be read by anyone that has ever laughed at, got angered by or has been inspired by this controversial man in the game of football.
Love him or hate him, this is compelling reading.
What fun we would have if Neil Warnock was England manager! Even though he's arguably the best English qualified boss we have when working with players, alongside Redknapp and Steve Bruce, like Cloughie, there was never any chance he would be interviewed for the top job, the FA preferring muppet yes men like McLaren when it comes to English guys in charge. But with five play-offs to his name, the latest being defeat with Crystal Palace this week, taking them from third bottom to fourth top in just five months, the really is none better for coming in to a club and lifting the team above its potential and ability. Warnock has always reveled in firefighting in lower league clubs, hoping to turn them around to get all the kudos, no real complaints if he doesn't from those around him.
With his obvious northern roots most of his club activity, playing or managing, has been north of Birmingham, Palace a rare trip south, Plymouth Argyle and Torquay only lower on the flat cap meridian. The first impression you get from this book is a feeling that, whether Neil wants to admit it or not, he turned down the likes of the Chelsea and Portsmouth because he may fail at the bigger clubs where success is expected. Where's the pat on the back for that. Go to a failing skint club and it's a no lose situation as far as your reputation goes. Warnock didn't fancy the big clubs.
Warnock is also one of the games most controversial mangers; his no nonsense, Geoff Boycott like Yorkshireman approach putting one or two noses out of shape over the years. Warnock, a qualified class one referee, admits in the book that he does a lot of it deliberately to wind up opposing managers and referees and feels his underhand tactics are justified to try and beat wealthier clubs. In the book he describes how he called the gentile Gerrard Houlier a four letter word on the touchline just before half-time, just to unsettle the Liverpool manager's team talk, resulting in Liverpool playing badly in the second-half and nearly losing. A lot of his controversy is put in but he probably isn't the most likeable bloke.
-The Young Warnock-
I suppose he is a northern cliché in many ways with a tough upbringing in Sheffield and a likewise hard working dad on the CV, a sharp backhand to teach his boy the rules, eating coal for breakfast, working down pit 25 hours a day!. It's the death of Neil's mum when he was only eleven that seem to shape his life, she disabled for all his life and dependant on the men of the house.
The choice between working 50 hours in a factory and semi-pro football was an easy one for young Neil, soon on the books of nearby Chesterfield as a speedy winger, which soon became full-time at Rotherham on a then healthy £30 per a week, no chance of coughing up blood here all his life. Hartlepool, Scunthorpe and Aldershot were followed by Barnsley, York and rock bottom Crewe Alexander, where his 13 year career ended in relegation on his 345 game. He was very much a bog standard pro.
Management was where he got his real success, Burton Albion his first part-time job on the other side of the touch-line, his remit to bring a 'bit of northernness' to the club. It was clear from those early days he had a knack for leadership, taking Burton on a memorable cup run that saw them lose 6-1 to Gary Linkers Leicester City in 1985. The game had to be replayed when the Burton keeper was hit on the back of the head with a piece of wood thrown by a spectator. The tenacious Warnock, with the help of a broadsheet campaign, got the FA to replay the game on the basis the keeper was concussed and a big club were being treated differently by not allowing the replay, which Burton just lost.
Warnock was by then a fully trained chiropodist, of all things, part-time management not paying the bills. But it was Scarborough that would make his name, taking over there when the league dumped re-election and awarded automatic promotion to the winners of the conference, the Yorkshireman stealing the top place on the last game from the highly fancied Barnet, 50-1 against to achieve that feat when he took over. Early on we were seeing he was something special as well as brash.
The football league manager...
Warnock's managerial ethos has always been about empowering players, however good they are, trying to extract 90% of effort from 90% of the players, balancing it with the ten percent effort guys who produce that critical and magical ten percent that will open up games with a sublime skill and win you games. When the players taste success they want more being the incentive.
Nott's County would follow Scarborough, the leagues oldest club, the nearby Brian Clough at Forest producing some decent anecdotes in the book Warnock recounts, a mutual respect alliance if there ever was. Warnock would get County to his first of five play-off finals in his career, coupled with an FA Cup quarter-final in 1990. Those were the days when Newcastle, Blackburn, Wolves and Birmingham had tumbled down the leagues, the birth of the Premiership close, something Nott's County quite fancied, amazingly achieving it soon after Neil left.
Warnock makes quite an astute observation here about there cup quarter-final with Tottenham. It was this game where Gaza smashed his elbow into one of the County players, but the referee bottling the red card. If Paul had gone he would never have played in the final and got that injury that saw him sold to Italy, and so history could have been changed for Spurs, and especially England. It's really sad to see the state of Gascoigne today.
It was here in the biography Warnock was offered the Chelsea job by Ken Bates, Neil making up all manner of excuses why he didn't take it. I personably think he didn't take it because he might fail and have no excuses, like I said before in my appraisal of the man. The Chelsea wage was treble what he was getting at Nott's County, 180k a year. Sunderland also came in for him 1992, this time the excuse that he would only take up the offer when Sunderland were knocked out of the cup so not undermine the current manager. Sunderland, of course, made the final that year against Liverpool and the rest is history. But when the Nott's County chairman sold star striker Paul Rideout behind his back the nest season the trust was lost and he wished he had taken up the other offers. Neil falls out with all of his chairman.
After a short assistant coach gig to help keep Torquay stay up, a dramatic 700 mile round trip and win at Carlisle the requisite, Huddersfeild were next, a move designed to shore up his marriage more than anything else by returning home to Gods Country. But he was soon turning the team around in their new stadium, enjoying the obvious challenge, Huddersfield victorious in the play-offs. Plymouth followed after another bust up with the chairman, Warnock clearly not the type to share his achievements, the player only good because he, Warnock, picked them, the same chairman only good when they bought him those players. I can imagine this as being a less than admirable attribute to have in a football club. But, low and behold, Plymouth, too, made the play-off final and returned to division one with another victory, surely the play off king now! Here Warnock explains why the Plymouth Argyle chairman was the latest to fall out with him; the petty reason given that Warnock had booked a 'slightly bigger suite' than his chairman's in the same hotel, Warnock informed it was a sackable offence. At one point the relationship was so bad; he charged Warnock for the coast of shirts the players had given away to fans after the Wembley match. That's how sad and frugal things get down the leagues.
Relegation campaigns at Oldham and Bury followed, both clubs tumbling with a bump! But when his club Sheffield United came calling, Warnock jumped at it, six years later delivering a place in the premiership promised land, resulting in that animosity over Tevez and the weak F.A when West Ham were allowed to get away with it and the Blades fell back into the Championship, resulting in none other than celebrity fan Sean Bean banging on the managers door calling him an effing w**ker and wanting to strangle Warnock for the drop, not the first and not the last person to have that urge.
There's one dedicated to referees, plenty of pages too, Warnock naming and shaming on who is good and who is bad in black, not exactly wise if you think he is still managing with these guys for a while to come. The obligatory Graham Poll rant is first up, many more going in the book, if you like. There's chapter for fellow mangers too, who don't escape his vicious tongue, Gary Megson and Stan Ternant in for particular bile. Megson still thinks Warnock's Nott's County tried to steel a result in that infamous game that was abandoned when the W B team were 3-0 up and County down to seven men, Warnock 'allegedly' asking his players to feign injury and come off so the game had to be called off. And it worked, too, for a while, but the FA finally awarding the game to Megson 3-0, so not to set a precedent. Warnock still refuses to say he tried to get the game called off to this day. I particularly chuckled at his comments about Phil Thompson when he was at Liverpool up for yet another touchline bust up, saying: f**k off Pinocchio and get back into your cupboard'!
There's a definite feeling about Warnock's writing that the chip on his shoulder is bigger than the managerial burden he's prepared to take on, all the best managers being guys that didn't quite make it as a player, seeking that lost admiration through management. He wouldn't get that at a club that was bigger than him. But its still a reasonably honest and blunt book, not one that wants to shy away from issues, clearly writing it before he retired to make his point over the West Ham debacle while its was still a hot coal, his first and last chapter in the book.
I think if he reads his own book back he may well finally learn from his mistakes, this biography about a journey of man unable to prove to his dad and mum he could do it and learnt from what they taught him. All though he thinks he's honest here, he's anything but, still painting a picture of the guy he would like to be. Saying that it does make for good reading, one of those books you know isn't going to hold back and nail the people the writer doesn't like or have crossed him. This autobiography really is all about Neil and not about his life,ofeering no real humility and certainly contradictory. With an ego this big I'm sure there's another tome to come. You cant shut a Yorkshireman up!
Renowned for his outspoken, colourful character, Neil Warnock here exclusively tells the story of his life in football. Warnock began his career as a player in 1967, and over the next eleven years played with a number of clubs including Scunthorpe United and Barnsley as a winger. In 1980 he took on his first managerial role with Northern Premier League side Gainsborough Trinity, and has since managed a number of clubs, including Notts County, Oldham Athletic and Bury, before finding his true home with Sheffield United. Perhaps the Blades' most famous fan, Warnock's loyalty to Sheffield United is legendary. Having been appointed in 1999, he became the sixth longest-serving manager in league football. In 2003, Warnock saw United to the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the League Cup as well as the final of the First Division play-off. He cemented his place in the Blades' history books by leading them back to the Premiership in April 2006, after twelve years in the First Division. He finally parted company with Sheffield United in May 2007.Neil Warnock tells his story with his trademark humour and passion, offering a fascinating insight into the journey of a football manager from the Northern Premier League to the Premier League.