Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Gaffer - Book review

Released in time for Father's Day, Neil Warnock has released a book entitled The Gaffer: The Trials and Tribulations of a Football Manager.

The book which can be considered Warnock's first public statement since he departed Leeds United is a look back on his career throughout football via the big moments of his career from guiding Sheffield United to the Premier League, to the fall-out of being relegated and the ensuing Carlos Tevez saga which ultimately cost him his job.

Focusing primarily on the time at his QPR and the money involved with the club, Warnock is keen to stress he holds no ill will towards the owners who sacked him but would be more inclined to focus on the privilege in guiding the club from near relegation the previous season to table toppers helped by such talent as Adel Taarabt, Heidar Helguson and Jamie Mackie.

Warnock's tone throughout the book (helped by Glenn Moore of the Independent; for whom Warnock wrote a weekly column which was as entertaining as this title) is one of eternal optimism, you get the sense that Warnock loves doing the job he does, and for every job he loses due to poor form or new owners, he is reflective on the job he has done has been to the best of his abilities.

Warnock comes from the same school as Harry Redknapp - not the greatest of players during the playing career but a man who has a keen observation of tactical formation and man-management. Warnock mentions how he used speed of his youth team at Crystal Palace to good effect prompting the promotion of John Bostock and Nathaniel Clyne amongst others to the senior side; Warnock set the framework by which Palace continue with Wilfred Zaha at the forefront of Palace's promotion season.  Warnock's belief was that these youngsters need to play games before moving on to bigger clubs, where they will stagnate and plateau - a telling remark in light of England U21s disastrous European tournament.

This may be a view of one man on his life in football, and at times like most biographies it can be self-congratulatory yet Warnock's joie de vivre for life and football does come across mostly; his numerous famous interviews made him appear to be a man you would like to sit down with for a pint.  This book does not disappoint in that respect, and his chapter on refereeing standards is both enlightening and eye-opening.

The Gaffer is a perfect gift for Father's Day, for a no-nonsense account of life as a somewhat scapegoat in a business first approach to football.

The Gaffer is out now from Headline Publishers at £16.99 and is also available as an e-book.

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