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Friday, January 14, 2011

QPR Report Friday: Warnock Profiled and Interviewed...Warnock Transfer Wants...Shittu Interest?

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Fulham Chronicle/Paul Warburton - QPR eye former Watford and Bolton defender
- QPR are poised to bring Danny Shittu back to Loftus Road on a six-month contract.
- The former Hoops centre back is also wanted by Cardiff and Wolves - but Rangers boss Neil Warnock is ready to play a trump card by offering the 30-year-old a second chance to win a Championship medal with the club he made 162 appearances for between 2002 and 2006.
- The Rs manager hinted he also had other irons in the fire to fill a central role, but has cooled his interest in bringing Jonathan Woodgate from Spurs on loan after doubts over the ex-England international’s fitness. Fulham Chronicle
Fulham Chronicle/Jacob Murtagh - QPR end Woodgate interest
-NEIL Warnock has cooled his interest in signing Jonathan Woodgate after doubts over the ex-England international’s fitness.
- We revealed last month that the QPR boss had made an enquiry about bringing the Spurs defender to Loftus Road on loan.
- However, Rangers reckon the 30-year-old is not ready for the pace of the Championship, with Warnock turning his attentions elsewhere in a bid to boost his backline. Fulham Chronicle

TELEGRAPH/Jeremy Wilson
QPR manager Neil Warnock still fighting his corner after all these years
Neil Warnock leans back in his chair, smiles from ear to ear and looks almost misty-eyed.

Neil Warnock - Neil Warnock still fighting his corner after all these years

Love him or loathe him: Neil Warnock is well aware that he is football?s ?Mr Marmite?, but senses that his public image has turned around in recent years

By Jeremy Wilson 9:38PM GMT 13 Jan 2011

He is reminiscing about his “hero” Brian Clough, the lunches they would share as managers in Nottingham between 1989 and 1993, and their first meeting when an awestruck Warnock ordered orange juice but ‘Old Big ’Ead’ insisted they drink pink champagne.

“He used to call me Neil, I used to call him ‘Mr Clough’ and in all that time, I never called him Brian,” says Warnock, who was in charge of Notts County when Clough managed Nottingham Forest.

“I used to take James, my oldest lad, everywhere with me. We played Forest one Sunday, our second team against their third team, and Cloughie was in the stand. I went in to do the team talk and I said to James, who was about five, ‘just stay outside and wait in the tunnel’.

“I came out, couldn’t find him anywhere. I said to the stewards, ‘where’s my son?’ They said, ‘Brian Clough has taken him’. After a few minutes, he reappears with parcels, Easter eggs, chocolate, all-sorts. He said to me, ‘I’ve been in Brian’s office’. My little boy used to call him Brian but I could only ever call him ‘Mr Clough’. He’s always been my idol — I loved him.”

It is doubtful whether English football has produced two more controversial managers than Clough and Warnock. That much was obvious when I sent a message on Twitter on Friday morning to say that I was off to interview Warnock.

The response from football supporters across the country simply oscillated between vitriolic abuse and adulation. Warnock is well aware that he is football’s ‘Mr Marmite’, but senses that his public image has turned around in recent years.

After an hour with him in the bar of the Harpingdon Sports Club at Queens Park Rangers’ training ground, it is certainly easy to understand how he has inspired six promotions during his career and why QPR are five points clear at the top of the Championship.

Warnock might have an explosive streak, but he is also charismatic, funny and, above all, infectious in his enthusiasm for football.

Yet he does not back down from his outspokenness. Most recently he made headlines for comparing Blackburn forward El-Hadji Diouf to a “sewer rat” for his response to Jamie Mackie’s broken leg. Warnock says he stands by that comment and has no regrets about other past run-ins. “I’ll always fight my corner, say what I want, sometimes it gets you in trouble but that’s what Yorkshire people are like,” he says.

Never has Warnock’s anger been more acute than when Sheffield United lost their Premier League status in 2007 after Carlos Tévez was allowed to continue playing for West Ham and Liverpool fielded a weakened team on the final day of the season against Fulham.

“It probably took the best past of 18 months to two years to really get that out of my system,” he says. “All sorts of things would trigger it. The best thing I did was letting Simon Jordan talk me into managing Crystal Palace. Coming to London has really helped. I love London, my family love it and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. I get a buzz about it and my life is exciting.“For me, to be in Covent Garden having lunch and people-watching is fantastic. And I’ve never cycled so much as in Richmond Park. I even stopped once and spoke to a deer. Palace turned my whole world around.”

Proof that Warnock is over his Sheffield United experience is most evident in his refusal to take any pleasure at West Ham’s position at the bottom of the Premier League.

“I like West Ham,” he says. “I felt let down by the Premier League but life’s full of that, especially with me. I have to use the grievances and disappointments to drive me on because I want to manage in the Premier League again.

“The way we got relegated, I couldn’t bear to think I would finish football with that on my mind. I would love to lock horns with Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti and all the others. I have no thoughts of packing in. I really want to finish my career at the top if I can.”

Should QPR go up, he also thinks he would approach the Premier League with a different style. “Ian Holloway has brought a lot to the table.
"He’s said, ‘Right, let’s go and play football’. If you had told me I’d have signed a player like Adel Taarabt four years ago I’d have said, ‘not a chance’. I enjoy attacking football; that’s what I’d try to bring. I’ve still got the same passion. The morning of a match I still can’t eat after 10am. If I lost that I’d imagine I’d have lost everything.”

That passion is fuelling QPR but he is also pragmatic about the immediate situation and, after losing Mackie, Patrick Agyemang and Kyle Walker over the past week, wants three or four players on loan.

On Monday, he will meet the club’s three main shareholders, Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Amit Bhatia, to impress upon them the opportunity QPR have.“They [the owners] are still in the teething situation; I think they would like to see where they are before they actually pay any transfer fees,” he says. “I think we would be a little bit short if we left the squad as it is. I felt at the start of the season we were a fourth to eighth team and we have done better than I ever imagined.”

And, after becoming QPR’s 10th manager in three years, he has also brought some stability. “I’ve never enjoyed myself as much as at QPR,” he says. “I’ve had one or two meetings with Bernie Ecclestone and he has told me just to carry on as I am and he’ll give me his support. I’m sure if we could get where we want to be, they would support me for the targets we need.”
As the interview draws to close, the conversation returns to Clough.

So, 20 years on from those lunches together, is there one nugget of advice that sticks in his mind?

“We had a postage stamp as a training ground — it was a heap and Cloughie used to walk across it with his Labrador,” says Warnock. “But he would tell me that he respected what I’d done and one thing he would say was not to change.” Warnock never has and, for QPR supporters, that can only be good news. Telegraph

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