Six games to go. Five points off safety. A dreadful goal difference that’s unlikely to be refined. Games against Manchester United and Liverpool to come. This is the situation that Cardiff City find themselves in.
Bar an improbable great escape, they now seem destined for the drop. Such a getaway from the relegation zone wouldn’t be very Cardiff, and it would be even less Neil Warnock.
At 70 years of age, the final bell of the 18/19 season might well be the end of Warnock as a manager, in the Premier League at least.
A Neil Warnock story in four pictures: pic.twitter.com/RgwzaZCNc7
— James (@JamesLUFC) March 31, 2019
Considering England’s top flight is the most watched and now the strongest league on the planet, it’s incredible to think that out of seven-and-a-half billion people, Warnock has secured one of the coveted twenty positions of a Premier League manager on several occasions.
The presence of the man has surely appeased many supporters who scowl at the quirks of modern football. In an era of hashtags and haircuts, the fact that the Sheffield native is still trusted to train and pick teams to face the Arsenals, Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds of this world helps us delude ourselves into thinking the backpass rule is the only thing to have changed in the game since 1990.
He’s upped his game in recent months, perhaps determined to leave a lasting mark on the sport he will soon depart.
His mustering up of the bulldog spirit in regards to Brexit in January was stirring, if blatantly ignorant. His verbal onslaught on English referees was humorous, but unfair given that the lads with the whistle are all trying their best (they’re clearly stressed, Michael Oliver’s the only one with any hair left).
“To hell with the rest of the world.” 😳
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock has weighed in on the Brexit debate. pic.twitter.com/Se05X4Clcg
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 13, 2019
In a similar fashion to Alan Partridge, Warnock has almost created a whole new genre of comedy under his own name.
One of the greatest videos ever uploaded to YouTube is the montage of his best moments from the 04/05 fly on the wall documentary made about him and Sheffield United.
I’d like to think it’s the director’s cut as opposed to the best bits.
Despite all that he’s done and all that he’s said, it’s still difficult to tell who the real Neil Warnock is.
He has a refreshing attitude in realising football isn’t life or death and hasn’t lost faith in a lot of the old-school, less scientific methods of managing a group of players.
He is one of the counteracting forces stopping football from becoming all about pass completion rates and expected goals. His extreme personality neutralises the image of managers in the league, stopping it from becoming a big hipster love-in of continental scholars of the game such as Guardiola and Pochettino.
At the same time, he is hypocritical in plenty of what he says. Threatening to play the under 23s last week against City despite lambasting Rafa Benitez for doing the same against Fulham when Warnock’s Sheffield United went down in 2007. Damning the officials as ‘the worst in the world’ after his team’s controversial defeat to Chelsea whilst previously playing down the referee’s impact on games following victories.
Cardiff City recently ran a competition where you could win the opportunity to meet the man himself and spend a day at Cardiff’s training ground. I’d imagine this was the prize for second-place, the winner just gets the day at the training ground.
He’s surely on the wind-up more than most of us realise. Trying to get a reaction whilst having a bit of fun in a sport that contains too many diluted and media-trained soundbytes.
That shouldn’t excuse some of the mindless shit he’s said down the years. He straddles the border in between British imperial arrogance and old-school functionality even more so than Jamie Vardy and Sam Allardyce.
He’s a good man, but a prick all the same.
Let us appreciate the coming weeks. Cardiff will be back in the big time at some stage in the next twenty years, but this will likely be the last we see of Warnock and maybe the last we see of what he represents., both the good and the bad.
The end of Warnock. The end of the old-school.
All the best.