Neil Warnock is known as one of the most controversial figures in football. He speaks before thinking, regularly slams referees and their assistants and has strong opinions on everything football related. However, after the length of time he has had in the game (as a player, manager, pundit and newspaper columnist), he certainly has a few tales to tell.
The Gaffer focuses predominantly on Warnock's time as manager of QPR-and it is certainly eventful. It proves that although the manager is the figurehead of a club, the power lies beyond that with chairmen, investors and board members. Players and agents hold more sway than ever before. Football management is evolving along with the rest of the football world and those like Warnock who have been around for a long time have had to adapt to keep up with the younger managers.
The Gaffer showcases all aspects of life in management- the long hours, the time away from family, the difficult decisions, the frustrations of trying to please players, agents, fans...it is an honest, no holds barred account. It was interesting to find out more about his experience managing 'difficult characters' such as Diouf and Barton.
However, I found there were points where I skim-read, where I felt Warnock was covering the same ground repetitively. It wasn't that it was bad, I just didn't find it wholly engaging. Perhaps now is the time to say that I am a Sheffield United fan, so Neil Warnock has played an important part in my life as a supporter. Some of my favourite days watching the Blades had him standing on the sidelines ranting and raving, yelling abuse at linesmen or making cringeworthy comments on the local radio. I met him numerous times and he was always friendly, down to earth and approachable. I found his previous book Made in Sheffield a fascinating read. So I feel a bit bad saying that this was just 'alright'. Maybe QPR fans will find this an insightful record of successful yet irregular time in their history and enjoy it more than I did.
It is a readable account, making no bones about the challenges faced in modern management, yet for me it was lacking the dry, northern humour which I associate with Warnock. I'd say this is one for the hardcore football fans or those interested in how a football club operates rather than someone looking for an autobiography of a manager.
The Gaffer is out now, published by Headline.
With thanks to Headline and Bookbridgr for providing me with a copy in return for my honest opinions.