The touchline tenacity, the raging at referees, the pulsating passion and unique sense of humour. Go on, admit it, you’ve missed Neil Warnock.
It’s only been two months since the veteran gaffer parted ways with Cardiff in November following a difficult start to life back in the Championship, but the managerial arena feels empty without one of its most beloved members.
40 years. 15 clubs. Eight promotions. 1,488 matches.
Our columnist Ian Holloway recently returned to management with Grimsby, citing his eagerness to gain entry into the 1000 club.
Now Warnock has crunched how own numbers and discovered that he’s just 12 games shy of a 1,500 matches in management - a managerial milestone reached by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
"I just think I will go to the end of this season,” Warnock told BBC Sport. We are doing quite a bit of renovation at the house in Cornwall and it will be finished at the end of the season. So I think Sharon [his wife] will be happy for me to be out of the house for a few weeks!”
But the question is, where?
"I might have to go to League Two or something like that, but why not? It doesn't bother me what division I am managing in - I would like to be able to contribute to a club, either saving it or getting it up.”
Since leaving Cardiff, Warnock has been linked with a move north of the border and was installed as the favourite for both the Hearts and Kilmarnock jobs, vacancies that have since been filled by Daniel Stendel and Alex respectively.
He was also name-dropped in conversations about the Bristol Rovers, Barnsley and Leyton Orient jobs but nothing came to fruition.
Now the Barcelona job has been snapped up, a return to the Football League appears to be the most likely destination for the 71-year-old.
Neil Warnock is gunning to reach the managerial milestone of 1,500 matches
At the time of writing there is only one vacancy up for grabs, at financially-troubled League Two club Macclesfield, whose manager Daryl McMahon departed for Dagenham & Redbridge three days into the New Year.
Danny Whitaker, 39, has since taken up the reins in a caretaker capacity, picking up a creditable four points from two games, but given the club’s difficulties, the addition of Warnock at this moment in time could be invaluable. However, it’s the club’s difficulties that are hindering their manager search - they simply don’t have the funds.
Anywhere else is simply pure speculation.
Neil Warnock has revealed that he's eager to return to management.— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) January 14, 2020
The question is where? 🤔
(Comment which club you think he'll crop up next at)
Down in League One, Sol Campbell has yet to work his magic at another financially troubled club, Southend, where he’s failed to win a game since taking over in October. Although blaming Big Sol for that would be incredibly harsh.
Blackpool are experiencing a wobbly six-game winless run under Simon Grayson, although a departure would come as a surprise. There’s no chance of Tranmere sacking Micky Mellon, who has done an exceptional job at the club, having won back-to-back promotions in the previous two seasons.
AFC Wimbledon appointed Glyn Hodges on a permanent basis in October - following the official departure of Wally Downes - but with the club in trouble, a ready and available Warnock is surely an attractive option.
Neil Warnock on getting recognised... 😅 pic.twitter.com/f8MOV3i59d— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) January 13, 2020
We’ve already mentioned Macclesfield in League Two, but are there any other fourth-tier vacancies that could soon be up for grabs?
Rock-bottom Stevenage have only just re-hired Graham Westley for a fourth-time, while Morecambe, Carlisle, Oldham, Leyton Orient, Mansfield and Grimsby have all changed managers over the past few months.
Slim pickings, in other words.
Salford are experiencing a three-game losing streak, as are Cambridge. So both clubs could well be worth keeping an eye on.
Chesterfield, situated in the National League relegation zone, could be an outside option but the managerial situation is unlikely to be resolved until the takeover is complete, which may not happen for another couple of months. Caretaker John Pemberton is the man currently tasked with steadying the ship.
Paddy Power have developed a reputation for paying out quirky bets, so with that in mind you can back Warnock at 500/1 to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd.
For now, it looks like Warnock will have to be patient and bide his time, but considering that last season there were 26 managerial departures (top-four leagues) between January and May, he may not have to wait too long for another opportunity to present itself.