Owls fans love to hate ‘sergeant major’ Warnock – but I’m glad we don’t have to play one of his teams again
Sheffield Wednesday supporter Laura Lawrence dishes out some rare praise — and not even through gritted teeth — to the legendary former Blades boss who has retired from football after 42 years in management.
Ask any Sheffield Wednesday fan of a certain age about the end of Neil Warnock and you might get fantasies about wheat threshers from his farm or a loose bracket on the Sheffield United honours board. But there has been a thaw over the years and, dare I say, mild praise.
Warnock is who he is, and you have to respect him for that.
At 73, Colin, has announced his retirement yet again after 42 years as a manager. (If you don’t know why he’s called Colin, check out the anagram of his name). Warnock first claimed he was giving up management in 2007 but this time it seems a certainty.
Warnock is good at what he does. It might not be pretty but it’s effective. He’s the man that successive owners have brought in stop the rot, he’s got teams to believe in themselves and, by God, he was successful at it. Eight promotions in total — a record in the English leagues. From Scarborough in 1987, double promotion with Notts County in 1990 and 1991, and consecutive promotions in 1995 and 1996 with Huddersfield Town and Plymouth Argyle respectively.
In 2006, he took his boyhood club, Sheffield United, to the Premier League. He also could have earned a Guinness World Record for ‘use of the F word in one dressing room dressing down’ at Bramall Lane two years before that. The footage is as infamous as it is glorious. His management style is prehistoric, as are some of his off-the-pitch punditry thoughts, but you can’t deny he does galvanise players, like an army sergeant major. A common denominator to dislike. By the end, his teams will run through metaphorical walls for him. I can only assume goalkeeper Paddy Kenny’s Stockholm Syndrome means he’ll now be living in a shed in Warnock’s bottom field, after following his boss to five different clubs.
It was 20 years ago last month that Warnock oversaw the only English football game to be abandoned due to a shortage of players, the Battle of Bramall Lane. Three United players were sent off against West Brom and with no substitutes the vicious game had to be stopped. Warnock and a number of his players were later fined by the FA.
He also leaves behind Queens Park Rangers: The Four Year Plan. Another iconic documentary of his tenure taking Flavio Briatore’s QPR to the Premier League in 2011. His final promotion was in 2018 with Cardiff City. It’s an astonishing record for a chiropodist whose speciality was ingrown toenails.
It was inevitable that Warnock would carve out a career in punditry. In the age of clickbait and controversy he’s like a little nugget of commercial gold for talkSPORT.
There’s a bit of me that will always hate him, and I think he’ll be just fine with that. After all, this is a man who wants a minute’s booing when he falls off this mortal coil. He did say in his autobiography Made in Sheffield: My Story that if he was ever Sheffield Wednesday manager he would “buy some bad players, get the sack and then retire to Cornwall”, in a effort to engineer our demise. Sadly, we’ve achieved this on our own despite Milan Mandaric coming a hair’s breadth away from hiring him at Hillsborough in 2010.
Enjoy your retirement, Colin. I’m glad we don’t have to play one of your teams again.
Follow Laura Lawrence on Twitter @YICETOR
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