If you’re a follower of British football and over the age of ten it’s safe to say you’ve probably heard of Neil Warnock, the man is a colossus at the heart of British managers, particularly in the Championship. Why does he elicit such strong emotions on both sides of the debate? Let’s take a look.
“The Warnock Way”
Neil Warnock will be the first to tell you that there’s no such thing as the “Warnock Way” of playing, that he doesn’t set his teams up to stifle good football and all he’s interested in, is winning. Nevertheless, there seems to be a weekly barrage of critics saying he instructs his players to waste-time and consistently foul the opposition, but is this fair?
Having watched Warnock’s team very closely now for some 30+ games, it is clear to see that they have not been instructed the retain the ball and calmly look for an opening in the opposition. It’s also clear to see that so-called “wasted passes” from side to side in the defensive half of the pitch are not required so if you are a fan of the tiki-taka approach, then Warnock’s teams are possibly not for you. However, is this akin to Warnock adopting one-way football? Probably not.
Whilst it may be clear that ball retention and meticulous build-up play are not Warnock’s ideal, it is also clear that getting the ball into the opposition area as quickly as possible IS the intention. If that means pressing the opposition higher up the pitch into making mistakes or playing long balls to a central striker or even ensuring the ball is passed out wide to the wingers as quickly as possibly then so be it and boy is it producing results.
Winners aren’t always wanted
Whatever you make of Neil Warnock’s teams and style of play, one thing is certain, he gets results. He’s currently in the process of attempting to earn the 8th promotion of his long managerial career (which would be a record) and whilst you won’t hear him talk of the Premier League too often, it’s absolutely crystal clear to all watching that promotion is the goal, at all costs.
Having grown up in the nineties where Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson dominated the English game, it’s fair to say that not everyone likes a winner, particularly when they seem to win far more than they lose. Familiarity breeds contempt as they say, and Neil Warnock must be viewed as one of the most successful British managers of the last 25 years especially in the Championship.
The truth often hurts
Neil Warnock recently bemoaned the lack of interesting press conferences in modern football, that can’t be said of the man himself who seems to produce a tasty sound bite week after week, ensuring there’s never a dull moment in South Wales.
He recently admitted that he’s had to tone down his criticism of match officials as his wife and children have made him pay them the same amount he pays the FA each time (which must have cost him thousands over the years), however that doesn’t mean that you won’t hear the truth as he sees it before and after every Cardiff City game.
In an age where political non-comments seem to have seeped into modern football, Neil Warnock is a breath of fresh air.
Neil Warnock seems to be a victim of his own success, opposition fans love to hate him and whoever he’s managing at that time think he’s the greatest thing since electronic season tickets. As a Cardiff City fan it would be fair to say that his integrity, passion and honesty have gone down a treat in an age where past managers have not enthralled supporters.
Long live Neil Warnock and long live his critics; it seems to spur him on!