Cardiff News: Neil Warnock could quit even if Bluebirds go up – EXCLUSIVE | Football | Sport

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Today’s game at Birmingham falls on the eve of his first anniversary in charge; 12 months during which the Welsh side have risen from second bottom to the very top of the Championship.

However, his contract is due to expire in the summer and, in truth, the Premier League holds little appeal.

“Who is to say I am going to stay? I honestly don’t know if we go up,” Warnock said. “The main objective was to get promotion – they know I am not keen on the Premier League. I don’t like owners and chairmen talking to players like they do at that level.

It belittles the manager.

“But it is hard enough anyway, without a player telling the chairman exactly the sort of thing he wants to hear all the time. A player is hardly going to say you are doing a great job if you have just dropped him.

Chairmen feel they have to have those sorts of conversation, though.

“But let’s cross that bridge when we get to it – it would be bloody nice to have the choice!”

At Championship level, Warnock is left to get on with it. 

His assistant Kevin Blackwell and first-team coach Ronnie Jepson have worked with him for years, while Craig Bellamy, the player development manager, gives the young Welsh players in particular something to aspire towards.

All five of them sit with the rest of the players, both the junior and senior squad, in the club’s separate canteen in the grounds

of the impressive Vale Resort after a good morning session in the light drizzle. There is a noticeable buzz about the place, animated conversations held over platefuls of cottage pie.

Modern sports science does not dictate that it always has to be pasta and in a very British way, Warnock, 68, is building success with his own tried-and-tested recipe.

“When I came, everybody knew the club was fragmented,” he said. “But we have got the enjoyment back. I have got in the people I wanted and we spend more time down at the stadium, so the people there feel part of the club more. And the owner enjoys it more. The fans are enjoying it more.

“There is not a bad egg in the camp. It is not dissimilar to when I was at Sheffield United – we are all together. I said to the players before the season, ‘Listen lads, I’m after my eighth promotion – and the other seven, the squads still have reunions’.

“All of them – Huddersfield, Notts County, Scarborough, Plymouth. I told them they would have a reunion, too, because they are the same type of group.”

That strong, close-knit unity has been a consistent part of nearly four decades of success, although often long balls and uncompromising physicality come to mind when one discusses ‘The Warnock Way’.

This one stereotype more than anything wipes the smile away from the face of a man who is generally more than happy to laugh at his own peculiar idiosyncrasies.

“We have got to the top of the table but we’ve entertained as well,” Warnock insisted. “Blackie is a big one for stats, and we have 15.6 shots per game, more than any other team in the Championship; the most shots on target; the most shots from inside the box. I

used to love it after games at Sheffield United. Derek the kit man would bring me a cup of tea and I would sit back in a little slipper bath and think about all those young kids like I used to be, with short trousers, going home with their dads talking about ‘that’ shot, ‘that’ tackle, ‘that’ goal, ‘that’ header. Excited, and not being able to wait for the next game.

“That is how I want my football. I am going to enjoy my team as much as I can and hopefully the fans will too.”

Right now, it could not sound more like an antidote to the current performances of the England national team.

“I feel sorry for Gareth Southgate, because he has not got an achievable job,” Warnock said. “It is a thankless task. 

“The FA want us to play so we’re comfortable on the ball, rolling it out, but we’ve done nothing like that since 1966.

Let’s have shots and saves and headers – things that excite.

“I simply don’t enjoy watching. I followed the first 10 minutes of the Slovakia game before watching Scotland and on Sunday I was one of a million viewers, I read somewhere, who turned off halfway through. I watched a Neil Sedaka concert on Netflix instead.”

There are few more damning indictments than that.

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