Neil Warnock is as charmless as ever as he turns 70 - and everyone in football should be grateful for that

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 30 November 2018, 09:32

IF THERE was one birthday party you WOULDN’T want to to go this weekend, whose would it be?

So let’s take a moment to sympathise with Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo who will have to grin and bear it as Neil Warnock prepares to turn 70, and no doubt hog the limelight.

Cardiff City’s unpalatable manager could probably fit all his football friends in a small telephone box in the Welsh capital’s city centre.

Warnock is one of those people perfectly capable of starting an argument in an empty room and is regarded as the most unpopular kid in the playground when it comes to the beautiful game.

As Warnock prepares to hit the big Seven-O he will be at his cringeworthy worst. It will be all about him but with all the bucketloads of false modesty he can muster.

But then why shouldn’t Neil Warnock shout about himself? He is outspoken and charmless at times and often accused of being downright nasty at others.

Yet he is a record-breaker and a superb manager - expert in his specialised field.

Eight promotions and now doing what he does best and battling the odds with City one point off the bottom of the Premier League but also just two points from safety if you look up instead of down.

Warnock is also British and old school in a world where style means ever more than substance. And where homegrown coaches are harder to find than a group picture of Cardiff’s manager with friends.

The fact that Cardiff are not bottom of the table is an achievement in itself already. Warnock has had precious little budget whereas 20th placed Fulham have spent £100 million yet have been forced to sack a manager already this season with all the financial outlay and upheaval that entails.

A Yorkshireman, Warnock says what he likes and likes what he says. And from a media perspective that too is a worryingly scarce commodity in a sport where honest comment is a red card offence.

Every time Warnock gets a new job - and there have been 13 of them as a manager in the top four divisions - he says it will be his last but he is addicted to soccer and to controversy. What’s so wrong with that?

He once said of the Bristol City fans who have a particular hatred of him:

“When I die I want them to sing Warnock’s a w****r for a whole minute. That would be the best tribute.”

Of the notorious spitting striker El Hadji-Diouf he recalled:

“I would call him a sewer rat but that’s insulting to sewer rats.”

In that sense Warnock is the Jose Mourinho of the working man. He isn’t exactly Marmite because it seems nobody likes him - but he doesn’t care.

After Friday's home match against Wolves he takes Cardiff to West Ham and then faces Southampton - two vulnerable teams.

Four points from those two games are easily gettable and would transform the outlook on Cardiff’s season which will be hair-raising but may just be starting to turn a corner after victory over Brighton earlier in the month.

When Cardiff were promoted there was an audible collective groan in most circles in football as the world prepared itself for the return of superbrat.

Over 35 years as a manager Warnock has shown himself to be outspoken, outrageous, overly-aggressive and surly - and those are his good points.

But thank Heaven we do have him around to keep us entertained with his charmless personality even if his football is c**p.

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