Neil Warnock: 50 years in football for Cardiff City manager

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock is seeking a record eighth promotion

"When you get the sack at my age, you just get a better job. It's marvellous really."

When it comes to football, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that Neil Warnock has seen it all.

The 68-year old Cardiff City manager is celebrating half a century in the game this season, having made his debut in 1967 as an 18-year on the wing at Chesterfield - thanks to a rival player nipping off to a holiday camp mid-season.

He's been promoted seven times as a boss, has managed 15 different clubs and now Warnock is ready for a 38th campaign as a manager, having retired in 1979 to move into coaching.

Warnock on... owing his career to Butlins

"I had a bit of luck in that I was a third-choice winger at Chesterfield and the lad that was on the wing went on holiday to Butlins. He missed two games and the guy who trained us, Reg Wright, couldn't stand it. He'd say 'what's this boy doing having a holiday when the football season is on?'"

"He put me in for two games and kept me in. I had a decent career and never looked back. I owe Butlins quite a lot really because I don't think I'd have got a look in otherwise."

Warnock on... Carlos Tevez and regret

In the 50 years since that debut, and all that has happened in between, there is one event in Warnock's career that perhaps stands out more than any other.

And the manner of his relegation from the top-flight when managing the club he supported as a boy, Sheffield United, still hurts.

The Blades' lost their Premier League place to West Ham thanks to a Carlos Tevez winner at Old Trafford which kept the London club up. It later transpired the club had broken rules on third-party ownership with Tevez and compatriot Javier Mascherano, but West Ham were fined instead of receiving the points deduction that would have sent them down.

"With a little bit more investment and luck, I'm sure we'd have held our own in the Premier League with Sheffield United. As it was, the way we got it taken away from us is still a bit bitter, it still hurts," said the Yorkshireman.

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock managed Sheffield United from 1999-2007

Warnock on... fans

"Social media has made it so much more difficult for managers now. Everyone is an expert now, everyone in the street and every taxi you get in, they say they're better than you at your job.

"The phone-ins don't help managers either, but I do listen in to them and I check the fans' forum down at Cardiff. Sometimes you do come up with some information that's relevant, so I wouldn't say it's all ridiculous.

"It's just put more pressure on because every decision you make is scrutinised by every Tom, Dick and Harry. It is far more difficult.

"When I came to Cardiff my wife rang me and she said I've found something unbelievable. I said what's that? She said you won't believe it, they actually like you down there in Cardiff. She was shocked! I said some people usually do. The people I manage usually like me, the fans like me, it's the teams I play against who don't.

"That's the way it should be. I don't mind taking stick from visiting fans and I think some of the humour has gone out of football. You get fined for this and that now. We shouldn't lose the humour, that's important. You get fined for telling the truth now.

"At Sheffield United I felt like they could criticise me more because I supported the club and I was one of them. It wasn't constructive really, but you can never please everybody."

Warnock on... London and Simon Jordan

"I was gutted to be relegated with Sheffield United, but it gave me other things like working in London.

"I thought working in London was the back of beyond. Below Watford? I thought never in a million years! But Simon Jordan took me to Crystal Palace, he's the best chairman I've had. He was amazing and I loved it there.

"I loved the fans at QPR too and that wouldn't have happened without Sheffield United getting relegated. Although I was bitter about that at the time, it's allowed me to have a lot more than maybe I would have done. I'd have probably carried on there for a year or two and just packed it in. Now I love London and I've been to Rotherham, now Cardiff.

"I'm as excited as I used to be. I'm really looking forward to the season. At Cardiff we're underdogs again, the bookies are saying we'll be 15th, but you always want to prove somebody wrong."

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock had two spells as manager of Queens Park Rangers and also twice managed Crystal Palace

Warnock on... Money

In the week Brazil forward Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain for £200m, Warnock says the money involved in the game now is "frightening".

"You don't really know where it's going to end. It has a follow through in all the divisions. In the Championship now your £2m is £10m and your £10m is £20m. It makes it difficult. It hasn't changed things too much at Cardiff because we haven't got a lot of money to spend.

"We're thrifty and in certain circumstances that makes things easier. It's harder to get a promotion side that way, but it's not all about money. Money can actually cause you problems in the Championship, let alone ease them."

Warnock on... the Championship

"The Championship is my level because it's blood and guts. No matter how much money you have it's such a competitive league, everybody can beat everybody.

"Last season I thought Newcastle were slightly ahead of Brighton, but apart from that it was much of a par. That's what I enjoy because with any club in the Championship you can get results.

If you don't have the money you need that team spirit and that's what I enjoy. When I'm not in work, that's what I miss; the patter of the lads and the humour around the training ground.

"Getting players to believe they're better than they are is one thing. I enjoy helping players who have been written off and making them into something."

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock made over 300 appearances as a player between 1967-1979

Warnock on... Cardiff

The Bluebirds kick off their Championship campaign at Burton Albion before visits from Aston Villa, complete with new signing John Terry, and Warnock's first footballing love, Sheffield United.

"I couldn't ask for a better first three games and I'm looking forward to them. Burton will be as tough as Villa.

"We are dark horses for promotion. We need a lot of luck with injuries. What money does buy you is a squad and about 25 players. We have 21 and a couple of injured lads, but what we do have is more options off the bench this year.

"I think we can give anybody a game. I won't be going anywhere this year not thinking we can win the game. It won't be like that and we'll have a bad run, but it's about how you get out of that and get back on song. That's the art of managing."

Neil Warnock
Cardiff City were in the relegation zone in the Championship when Neil Warnock succeeded Paul Trollope

Warnock on... the future

"The job is still as much fun for me as it was 50 years ago. When you get to my age I don't think you can look past the next six weeks. I just think it's a great time for me now. When you start as a manager you don't want to get the sack, it hurts your pride.

I've never had so many jobs! I don't worry about getting the sack anymore, for me it's just personal pride. I've got great support at Cardiff and the fans really get behind me.

"Satisfaction for a manager is repaying the fans and that's what I'm trying to do this season. I don't know how long I'm going to be in football, but all I do know is I'm enjoying it and as long as I've got my health I'll keep going.

"Yes I have to have an afternoon nap now and I have to delegate properly, but most people my age have a little kip."

Neil Warnock was speaking to BBC World Service Sport's Steve Crossman.

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