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Neil Warnock could lay claim to being one of British football's most divisive characters. For someone who has held relatively little experience managing in the top flight, there can be few fans that don’t hold an opinion on him, regardless if he has managed at one of their clubs. Often described as “footballing Marmite”, Warnock (not unlike one of his former players Joey Barton) is a figure either loved or detested by most who have witnessed his outspoken post-match interviews, or opinions on others in the game (opinions which, as Warnock himself admits in this book, were occasionally given before he was fully aware of the facts surrounding them.)
I will admit to being a fan of Warnock, and someone who was often rather baffled by the vitriol spat his way. In a sport where opinions from the biggest names are sanitised by publicists to the point of inanity, characters like Warnock are often a fascinating diversion, whether referring to El-Hadji Diouf as a “sewer rat” or accusing an opposing goalkeeper of falling a little too dramatically after being assaulted by a fan of Warnock’s Leeds team. This book is unlikely to transform opinion of him one way or another, but there is a great deal to admire in this audiobook.
Not least of which is Warnock’s fine reading of it. It would have been very easy to allow some gruff Yorkshire-twanged thespian to apply their tones here, but Warnock is clearly proud of his book, and manfully works through it in a clear, pleasant manner, whilst never tempering his accent. Olivier he ain’t, but audible biography usually works so much better when read by the subject, and Warnock’s media work (particularly his radio-presenting experience) is much in evidence here.
Warnock also deserves credit for his approach. There is little mention of the “working-class roots…..loving parents…all I wanted to do was play football” humdrum that the first 100 pages or so of most football autobiographies are wasted on. Instead we are thrown into the ordeal of a major club (Crystal Palace) being hit by administration, and – save for a few references to Warnock’s days as a journeyman professional player and rookie manager – we stay in the world of modern day football management. Critics of Warnock’s tactical nous will point out that we learn comparatively less about the strategic side of organising a team on the pitch compared to the political and financial side of assembling one, but there are still some interesting insights to be had there, and to his credit Warnock doesn’t shy away from his side of stories he knows we want to hear. So we get his take on the aforementioned Diouf story, which took an extra twist when Warnock later signed the player for Leeds. He also gives his thoughts of losing his position at Queen’s Park Rangers, and supplies a fascinating insight into what goes on away from the Sky Sports News cameras on transfer deadline day.
It’s not perfect by any means. If Warnock is to be believed, little that has gone wrong in his career or at any of his clubs is even remotely his fault, and his writing at times strays from the point a little easily, which can lead to some rather bizarre “Alan Partridge” style moments in the audiobook, such as where he gives an amusingly in-depth description of his regular motorway service haunts.
Ultimately though this is a fine effort by Warnock. An interesting and well-read look at a maddening, fascinating and sometimes very lonely profession, by a man who may at times be accurately described the same way.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This book gives an extremely insightful view of life as a football manager. Warnock has come from grassroots level and seems to have taken the rough with the smooth in his stride. Currently football is full of autobiographies from players at the very start of their career however this gives a great overview of what Warnock's career and some of the characters he has come across on his journey. The fact that he narrates the book himself gave me a reminder of some of his famous quotes and press conferences. Well worth a listen!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
sometimes the delivery is a bit wooden, but Neil Warnock's tale rings true. I don't doubt the events he described unfolded much as he describes them, and as a footie fan they are interesting stories and anecdotes. An easy listen.