Neil Warnock – A legacy unto himself?

It seems so long ago now, under Ken Bates, the era of his brinkmanship had brought Leeds United to its knees. The fans were disillusioned and angry, the gate receipts were tumbling and the man to lead us all was among the most hated ever to have darkened the Elland Road boardroom. It couldn’t have got any lower. And yet, looking back, Neil Warnock was the right appointment at that particular time. He arrived to great fanfare and positivity, Leeds were a rudderless ship in need of a man who had seven promotions to his name and was famed for his no-nonsense, my way or the highway attitude. The club needed taking by the scruff of the neck and to be dragged into the upper echelons of the Football League, well that was plan at least.

Now though, we can begin to yearn for a time where a figurehead of the club got on with the job at hand and did it well, instead of stumbling around blindly because their head was lodged so far up their own backside; but realistically, that’s one of the reasons we wanted him in the first place. We wanted him to be a complete banker; we wanted him to be part of the ‘Leeds scum’, disliked the world over and had it gone better for the teams in results terms, it still wouldn’t matter that we all actually really can’t stand him. But that never happened and we still can’t.

Yep, door's that way Neil...

Yep, door’s that way Neil…

The problem for Warnock was that much of his tenure has been shrouded in uncertainty; eight months of it in fact as one of the longest takeovers in history hung round Warnock’s neck like a dead weight. There is little doubt that were Warnock to achieve the record-breaking eighth promotion he so craved, he had to have money to spend; we’re talking warchests grander than even Simon Grayson would ever have dreamed of. It soon became apparent that such a requirement would never materialise and as yet another summer drew to a close, Leeds were starting another season without solid preparation.

Save for a very average division, Leeds would be struggling for position; only in late February and March have they been able to find some consistency but even that only came in the form of an unchanged side for six consecutive matches.

So where did it all go wrong? Well, did it ever really go right? Warnock never liked Leeds; he’d probably be offended if you suggested he came to Leeds to do anything other than serve his own interests. Which we were OK with until we discovered that despite his protestations, the Leeds job was a bit of a holiday.

Every week, it just seemed incomprehensible to him that Leeds was in fact, a very long way from his home and family in Cornwall but he continued to reiterate the point; despite the fact that we were fully aware of the geography of the UK; a subject matter which has surmised Warnocks time at the club.

To most football clubs, teams generally do things together but it appears that there were set cliques within the squad which meant doing things as a team was generally, geographically speaking, more difficult. It shouldn’t have mattered though; a manager of Warnock’s stature, with his reputation, would surely do the very basics right and get the team together but you cannot help question his mentality and worth when week upon week, the squad travel from all different parts of the country to and from away games instead of together on the team bus. Old fashioned thinking? Perhaps. But isn’t that Warnock’s style? Not when he is based in Cornwall…





'One for the future'

‘One for the future’

Perhaps it is too easy to question Warnock’s motives, especially when he brings much of his old guard to the club on contracts they are unlikely to have been given elsewhere; furthermore when he brings in players whom he subsequently snubs almost completely. Leeds fans have long been familiar in the uncomfortable knowledge that Leeds have long paid players long after they have left and now, it feels like they are providing one last big pay day; jobs for the boys?

Too cynical perhaps but long after Warnock leaves, which hopefully will be sooner rather than later, he will not be remembered for any footballing achievement. Neil Warnock will be remembered for being Neil Warnock and for a man with his considerable ego, that must hurt. Leeds was probably too big a job for him; it was certainly his biggest and it had other events not conspired against him and had he not been such a monumental arse, it might all have been utterly glorious. But it hasn’t been; quite the opposite really.

Thankfully though, the new owners have had the foresight… well, the common sense, to concentrate on initiatives to bring a generous of fans back to Elland Road, and if nothing else comes from this season – and nothing will, it will be that people are starting to come back to the club. For the first time in eight years, the fans feel valued. We matter! The problem for Neil was quite possibly that he’d never encountered fans like us and managing and meeting expectations was a bar far higher than one he’d come across before. Mercifully, it appears that we will have to suffer his prehistoric stubbornness no longer. Well, not much longer anyway.



4 thoughts on “Neil Warnock – A legacy unto himself?

  1. A brilliant written piece here, being back in London I don’t often see or hear much of Leeds so I like reading your blogs to keep me up to date – I thought this job was always going to be a big one for Warnock when he was given it, I always thought his history as a loud mouth twat would come and bite him in his arse when he decided to change his approach / philosophy (which it has). There are cliques in every football club no matter where you go, James Beattie told a story where there are even cliques in the England national team….. It’s the managers job to accept that and work with not to try and break it because if you do the players will turn against you and the fans will not be far behind! Enjoyed read this…

    • Cheers Will. Hope you’re well.
      Yeah I’m aware the world of football isn’t immune from cliques, which is fine; my point was, Warnock isn’t exerting a strong style of management which we expected and the players are, apparently, pretty much doing as they please. The players won’t revolt over having to do things as a team, like travelling to games together. It’s not unreasonable. Besides, the fans don’t dislike him because of that. In much the same way Warnock seems to re-realise that Cornwall and Leeds are the best part of a 6hr drive apart every week, we remembered why we thought he was an arse in the first place.

  2. NW has been up against it since he arrived. Delay in the takeover, protracted financial negotiations taking the impetus our of the need for immediate investment and Bates still on the board. It does not get any worse than that! Until we have a good chairman and rid of Smurf nothing will happen on the footballing side. Sorry, but we need to start building from the top down this time round. We need a decent chairman and an emerging managerial talent with some years in him. Then with investment, we can start to build a solid team. We also need to remember that we need to go back to keeping our young players. They are our future, so lets see some of them given a chance soon. NW can start by playing them this season and giving them some experience for the next assault on the Championship. Bye NW, thanks for all of your hard work and commitment!
    PS: Take Bates with you when you go!!1

    • I think you’re missing my point. I did say his tenure had coincided with a series of unfortunate events but it is not that with what I question his continued presence at the club. He came with a reputation and we expected him to take us up, or at least challenge and he’ll have expected it too but not only has his style become one dimensional and prehistoric, he acts as though he’s doing us a gargantuan favour by being here.
      As for hard work and commitment, I’m not sure how seriously I can take a manager who generally manages his club while living at the other end of the country when he only attends training once or twice a week.

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