Neil Warnock has managed 13 different clubs during a 34-year managerial career, ranging from lowly Gainsborough Trinity to bastions of English football such as Leeds, Crystal Palace and QPR, and often teams up with Alan Brazil on talkSPORT radio’s breakfast show between coaching gigs.
It’s fair to say Warnock is rarely short of words. We caught up with the affable Yorkshireman, who has a fierce reputation on the touchline, for a quick chat:
Which of the promoted clubs do you think are best equipped to survive in the Premier League next season?
As daft as it sounds, I do fancy Norwich. I think they were the best squad in the league and really should have gone up automatically, if they hadn’t had such a bad start. I don’t see them signing too many players, and I think they might establish themselves for a few years if they get a bit of luck.
Bournemouth have done well and they’ve got the support of the chairman. Watford have as well, but it’s how they’ll get new players to fit in. It does destroy a bit of team spirit, bringing new players in, when other lads have got you there. It will be interesting to see how all the managers cope.
At the end of August, when that window closes in the Premier League, you’re on your own. You can’t go and loan someone like in the Championship or the lower divisions.
And it’s so hard. I remember at Sheffield United, we lost three centre-halves in a week in October. We had six weeks without a centre-half. You can’t do it at that level. You’ve got to have a good squad with depth in all areas.
So, tentatively, you fancy Norwich?
I do, yes.
Who would get your vote for Premier League manager of the season?
I think Nigel Pearson. I think to come through what he has come through. I voted for Jose Mourinho in the LMA. Even if you’ve got the money, I thought he did his business very early on when he signed Fabregas and Costa, and they’ve been fantastic.
He has been head and shoulders the best manager in the league, and the country. But I think Nigel, being bottom of the league in January and his job under threat. To fight back and finish like they did was just fantastic. I’m really pleased for him.
If Roy Hodgson were to retire tomorrow, who would you like to see take over the England team?
Well I would have liked Harry to have taken over if I’m honest. It looks like he was stitched up a bit by Spurs, and England. I was disappointed when it didn’t come to fruition. I don’t think Spurs are any better without him, and I think England would have been better with him.
As to the future, I don’t think we know really. In the Premier League, you have one good season and everyone will be raving about ‘Joe Bloggs’, but there’s nobody that really knocks your block off.
It’s just flavour of the month, and I think Roy will carry on as long as he can, because he’s never going to get a better job. He’ll enjoy it while he has it.
Having worked with Yannick Bolasie this season, do you think he is good enough to make it at a top-six club?
I think it’s difficult in the top six, because Yannick’s tremendous for [Crystal] Palace, but the problem with Yannick is you don’t know what he’s going to do. He has so much ability, but you don’t know what he’s going to do, and at the top level, when you’re on the ball you have to think about what you are going to do.
He’s very, very off the cuff is Yannick. I think he’ll make a really good level and he’ll have some good moves, and he’s a fabulous lad, so much pace and a lovely family, but I don’t think he’ll be at a top-six club if I’m honest.
Despite your stated intention to retire, has there been any job that has come up over the last six months that you would like to have had a crack at?
There are numerous jobs that I would have liked to have had a crack at!
Any you were close to taking?
My wife gave me the old ‘you do that again!’. I’ve retired three times now, but the jobs I’ve taken since were jobs I couldn’t refuse.
I loved going back to Palace. I enjoyed Leeds, even though they were in a tricky financial situation. I don’t think they’ve been any better since I left. We had a great chance; if we had just invested a little bit when Snodgrass was sold. I was told we could have the money for Snodgrass.
If that had developed I think we’d have been up because we had a decent side.
There was one job that came up over the last couple of days (Sheff Utd) that you were installed as favourite for with some bookmakers. Any news on that?
No. I’ve not spoken to the chairman, apart from in passing, since I left. I don’t think that will be on the cards.
What do you think of QPR giving Chris Ramsey the job full time, and do you think they’ll get promoted straight back up to the Premier League?
I think it will be very difficult. I think Chris is a great guy. I tried to get Chris to come with me to Crystal Palace as a coach. I think coaching is his forte, he’s a really good coach. It will be interesting to see how he develops now because managing is a lot different to coaching.
The Championship is a hard, relentless slog, week in, week out. I remember when I was at QPR. We were flying and we went up to Scunthorpe and Barnsley. We got beat 4-0 or 4-1 at Scunthorpe, bottom of the league they were, and everybody was doom and gloom, but you have to bounce back. Three days later we did and beat Barnsley away, but that’s what it’s like. A relentless slog.
I’m sure Chris will learn as he goes on, but I think it will be difficult for them to come straight back with players leaving and having to blend new players in.