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NEIL WARNOCK/The INDEPENDENT
Neil Warnock: Mackie and Moses prove that nice guys can finish first
What I Learnt This Week
"One of the best parts of this job is seeing young players develop their potential and I looked on with pride this week at the performances of Jamie Mackie and Victor Moses, two smashing lads who have really come on since I first saw them.
Like Victor, Jamie's crossing isn't quite good enough yet for a wide player in the top flight but he makes up for it with so much effort and an eye for goal. I saw him in a pre-season match playing for Plymouth against my Palace team. He ripped Nathaniel Clyne to pieces and I'd never seen Clyney taken to the cleaners. I remembered and when I had the chance to bring some players in at QPR a year later I signed him. Jamie was an important player for us in the Championship-winning season until he suffered a really bad leg break last January. He's shown a great attitude to come back from that. The crowd take to him because of his 100 per cent commitment, and it is great to see him keeping bigger names out of Mark Hughes' starting XI. He's a really good lad. They don't always come out on top so it's good to see this one do so.
He's a throwback in some ways. I found myself on a few occasions asking why he didn't go down in the penalty box when he'd been fouled. He just said: "I don't really know how to, gaffer."
2 Hit the divers where it hurts – with a six-match ban
Unfortunately Jamie is something of a rarity, as we have seen this week, with Manchester United's Ashley Young among the players diving, and Liverpool's Luis Suarez wrongly booked because he has a reputation for doing so.
I still think a six-game retrospective ban for diving will cut it out; fines are no use because money's no problem to Premier League players. I'm always telling my players not to put a foot out because, as Gary Neville said, modern players look for the chance to go down.
I did find it amazing that while Suarez always gets slaughtered, Young didn't get more criticism. He went down with the slightest touch and Lee Mason fell for it. I'd like to know who was the football person on the committee who didn't overturn Shaun Derry's red card. Then Mario Balotelli got off because one of the officials saw his tackle – if that official didn't feel it was a sending off he should have been banned. Poor old Mike Riley, the refs' boss, he would be pulling his hair out if he had any left. It's all contributed to what's probably been as bad a week as we've had for officials. In a job that needs a lot of help, some refs have been fed to the lions by their assistants with some terrible offside decisions hurting clubs such as Wigan and QPR.
3 Martinez is magic ... and I'm backing the Hoops to survive
After his disappointment at Chelsea it was fantastic to see Roberto Martinez's Wigan get maximum points against the champions-elect. They thoroughly deserved it on the night. They and my old club are now favourites to escape. I really fancied QPR strongly on Wednesday as they have the type of players who close teams down and it is difficult for Swansea to play under so much pressure. Last season we beat them 4-0, and earlier this season at Christmas, we got the best of a 1-1 draw in Wales. The suspension of Djibril Cissé may have been a blessing in disguise as it has enabled Mark Hughes to play Mackie and Adel Taarabt at the same time, making his midfield stronger. That should see them through. Today they have a very winnable game against West Bromwich Albion...."
Sporting Life - TREVOR FRANCIS SUFFERS HEART ATTACK
Trevor Francis has been hospitalised after suffering a heart attack.
The 57-year-old former England striker was rushed to hospital on Friday after suffering severe chest pains. After being admitted he immediately underwent surgery and was fitted with a coronary stent.
Britain's first million pound footballer, Francis is now recovering and one of his former club's Birmingham issued a statement.
"Everybody at Birmingham City FC would like to send our best wishes to club legend Trevor Francis following news that he is recovering in hospital from a suspected heart attack," a club statement read.
"The former Blues striker and manager is much loved by everybody associated with the club and we'd like to wish Trevor a speedy recovery."
Francis enjoyed an illustrious playing career, winning over 50 caps for England, and winning the European Cup during his time with Nottingham Forest.
He also enjoyed spells with Birmingham City, Manchester City, Rangers, Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers.
He also had a distinguished managerial career, beginning that stage of his career with QPR before also taking charge at Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham and Crystal Palace.
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