A former Premier League manager approached us here at GSITM and asked that we publish his diaries, so he could show the public what life is like out of the game. His only request was that he remained anonymous. Below is this week’s entry:
Last week I had a successful venture out to Germany, improving Bayern Munich to the point that they easily dispatched Manchester United. This week, I crashed back down to earth somewhat. I had to meet Neil Warnock.
Julie had sent me to Wales in an attempt to save Cardiff’s season. Sorry, I phrased that poorly. Obviously, Julie couldn’t care less what happened to Cardiff. As far as I can tell all she cares about is her fiance and her silly cartoons. No, Neil Warnock had summoned me to Cardiff to try to save his season.
I’m not a fan of Neil. Who is? He’s quite a hard man to get on with. Plus, he looks like a man who is halfway through the process of turning into a witch. I really don’t like witches, or anything related to horror for that matter. If I see someone who looks a little like they’ve been assembled from parts gathered from corpses, I go into full-on freakout mode.
Reluctantly, I arrived at Cardiff’s training ground and was sent up to Neil’s office. He wasn’t there at the time, but the receptionist said I could sit and wait for his arrival. This gave me plenty of time to look around.
Unsurprisingly, the walls and surfaces were covered with pictures of Neil at his various clubs. In the majority of them, he appeared to be shouting. Shouting and pointing, shouting in celebration, shouting at a referee, shouting at a player, shouting at a Tesco; you name it, Neil Warnock was pictured doing it whilst shouting.
There were also several newspaper cut outs of his various achievements, as well as a list of names written on the wall, several of which were crossed out. Next to that was a dartboard, currently adorned with a photograph of Dermot Gallagher with ‘wanker’ written on his head. Whilst I completely agree with the sentiment, this seemed a little overboard.
Several minutes passed before Neil Warnock came in. He was wearing a raincoat, waterproof trousers and football boots and he was so drenched with rain that his hair was matted down on his head. Behind him were clumps of wet grass he had dragged in with him. Bet the cleaners absolutely hated him.
‘Should I put the kettle on, Neil?’ I asked, trying to be helpful.
‘FUCK OFF!’ he shouted, before collecting himself. ‘Sorry, Al. Been a rough day in training, you know how it is.
I didn’t. Due to my strength of character and managerial ability, I never have rough days in training. But not everyone is as blessed as me, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
‘To business then,’ he said, once he had made us both a cup of tea. Mine was too milky, yet another reason to hate him.
‘I called you here because, to state it plainly, them lot out there are crap. I need your help to make them be, er, not crap.’
‘That’s easier said than done, Neil,’ I said, trying to be honest. ‘That’s really not a good squad. Why didn’t you spend more in the transfer window?’
‘I tried, Al. But Mr Tan, the owner, is tight on the purse strings. I managed to get a few in, Joshy, Cunny, Smithiesy, Reidy and Camarasary. But he wouldn’t give me anymore for who I really wanted.’
The good nicknaming had not gone unnoticed. I silently nodded my head in appreciation. A rare positive from Neil Warnock. What was happening?
‘Who did you really want?’ I asked.
‘The singer? I mean she’s got a good touch for a b-’
‘No, Taarabt. My little golden baby boy.’
That was slightly creepy. Football wise, it also seemed foolish. Taarabt had spent the last season on loan at Genoa, only managing two goals and two assists in twenty-two appearances. He also only made 1.5 key passes a game and 2.2 dribbles a game. There was no chance he was the way to keep Cardiff in the Premier League. It shocked me slightly that I had all those stats in my brain and I didn’t have to google them at all. That’s the truth.
‘Surely he can’t be that expensive?’ I asked, trying not to show the condescension on my face.
‘Yeah, Benfica quoted a tiny fee which we would have actually been able to afford. But I couldn’t find him. He’s always going missing, that kid.’
‘Do you not have a scouting department?’
‘Yeah but Tony was on holiday that day.’
Before I could ask it my question was already answered.
‘He is the department.’
There was nothing I could do. This team was a write-off, doomed to the most pathetic relegation in Premier League history. I braced myself, ready for the inevitable craziness that was about to befall me. Maybe Neil would shout at me like he had so many others? Or maybe he had a snake in his desk that would bite me? Perhaps a man would jump through the window and stab me?
‘Thanks, Alan. I know you couldn’t do anything, but it’s nice to talk to someone who understands. Clears the mind.’
‘Is that it Neil? You’ve nothing else to say?’
He shook his head. That couldn’t be everything, could it? No violence? No calamity? Do I get to just walk out?
‘This isn’t right Neil. Something should go wrong. Something should fall over or explode or I should attack somebody.’
‘I don’t see anything like that happening,’ he said, looking confused. ‘Just close the door on your way out.’
That’s when I saw it. Just as I had seen defiance in Arsene Wenger’s eyes last season, this time I saw defeat and despair in Neil Warnock’s. He knew. He was completely aware that he was out of his depth in the Premier League. Warnock was destined to fall through the cracks between the Premier League and the Championship. He knew his fate: Dwight Gayle, Lewis Grabban, Neil Warnock.
I knew when to call it a day. I got in my car and drove home, thankful that I had enough talent to stay out of that void. Cardiff are doomed, there is nothing in this world I am surer of.
But something stuck in my mind. As I had left, I stole a glance at Warnock’s face to see him…smiling. He was happy with failure. At least he will be at peace as he embarrasses himself on an international stage. All I see is another thing to add to the list. Looks like a witch, can’t make a cup of tea, destined for failure. What a c***.