All too often, we see players and managers going back on their word in football. Statements made to please the fans are merely empty gestures of appeasement, offered to ease a situation before it sparks out of control.
There are copious examples of which we could delve into regarding this matter, but this writer would like to focus on the more honest approach taken by some figures. More specifically in this instance, Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock. Now Warnock is far from the most popular character in the English game. This is a man who has long-standing feuds with an unquantifiable number of fellow professionals, and yet there are still a great many who admire him. First and foremost, he has proved to be a fantastic success in his managerial career, achieving five promotions in the football league, a feat only recently equalled by new Bradford boss Peter Taylor. Clearly, Warnock knows how to get the best out of his sides. Coupled with this, his incredibly outspoken nature and willingness to speak his mind in defence of his team, has seen him warmed to by fans across the nation. Our football clubs are dear to us but as fans we can do precious little to help or defend them. Whenever injustice is afoot however, Warnock will more than happily step into the firing line and offer an all too frank and honest assessment of his own. He is fully aware that what he will say will land him in trouble, but it is a price worth paying as far as he’s concerned. Most recently, the Yorkshire man was handed an FA charge of improper conduct following his criticism of the assistant referee during his side’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.
With a string of tickings off and slapped wrists to his name, it is evident that Warnock’s mouth will often land him in trouble, but it is his honesty which leads him to do so. He is not spouting off malicious lies designed to infuriate or wind up the opposition. These are not mind-games, more frank assessments. With this in mind, it would seem a fairly safe bet that when Warnock said that he will not be walking out on the Eagles, he means it. Fellow London side Queens Park Rangers have been linked with Warnock, hoping to have him in place as their new manager, as they look to stabilise and make a concerted effort to push up the Championship table next season. After a string of bosses this season, Warnock would only move if he knew he were there for the long-haul. Given that Palace have entered into administration, QPR obviously represent the greater opportunity for success, but this is not a simple decision to make for Warnock. His honesty has again been demonstrated by his admission that the two clubs are talking about the issue, but he has stated whole-heartedly that he will not be walking out on the Selhurst Park club.
Should he become the new manager at Loftus Road, compensation for Palace is an imperative, or else there is no deal as far as Warnock is concerned. Let’s hope that the former Sheffield United boss doesn’t perform a u-turn on this declaration, as it would just compound the Palace misery should they part on sour terms. It is worth noting however, that Warnock is not ruling out the possibility of moving on and for this we should applaud him. Whilst other managers would flatly deny any potential link, he is open to the suggestion of moving and won’t hide his feelings from the Palace fans. It may not be exactly what they want, but some much needed compensation money would be a small source of comfort. It should also be noted that Warnock is not a man to walk away from a job when the going gets tough. Of course he is ambitious just like every professional, but when he says he won’t walk out on the Eagles, he means it. If he does move on, it will only be if the deal is right for both him and for Crystal Palace. Should Warnock be appointed the new boss at Loftus Road, one player he will have to make do without will be teenage sensation Raheem Sterling. The young midfielder has made the decision to switch to the Liverpool academy, having been on the radar of many top club’s scouts for sometime now.
At the tender age of just 15 he clearly has someway to go yet in his development as a footballer, with fitness, strength and professional maturity still to be worked on, factors that cannot be accurately predicted at such an early age. In this sense Liverpool’s decision to take him on could yet prove to be a bad one, but what is safe to say is that with a legion of admirers already and having been linked with a whole host of top clubs, there is clearly something special about this player, and it will be fascinating to watch the development of the England youth international over the coming years.