Ask A Silly Question: Neil Warnock – tractors, a pesky otter and Graham Poll

The outspoken Cardiff City gaffer fills FourFourTwo in on his pet robin and how a dastardly otter gave him the hump… 

FFT: Hi Neil. You just created the Armchair Managers Association. Do you have a favourite armchair that other family members are prohibited from using?

NW: Hello, pal. I’m not actually a big fan of the armchair; I’m more of a settee man. We’ve got a really comfy one. I like to get pillows down from the bedroom to be extra comfy. If it’s TV, I lie down. Last night I watched Victoria. I love a period drama; a bit of Downton. But if there’s a match on, I will sit up. I can’t watch football lying down. I can’t concentrate.

Are you physically able to stay seated, without jumping up and calling the linesman a cheat? 

No. I can’t do it. There was a decision the other day – a Liverpool goal – where the linesman was correct in giving it offside, but there’s no way in a million years he could have seen it. I started screaming, ‘You haven’t got a clue, pal!’

‘Mad Dog’ Martin Allen once told us that he loves geraniums. Is there anything surprisingly soft about you?

Oh, I’ll cry at anything, me. I was in tears when Jess Ennis came round that last bend at the Olympics. My kids will be sitting there fine, while I’m welling up. My wife says I must have been born with female genes. I’ve been accused of some things in the past, but never that. I do love a bit of gardening, too. 

What’s your favourite garden activity? Potting? Mowing? Hoeing? 

Mowing. I’ve got a lovely red tractor that I use – a 1962 Massey Ferguson. Alan Brazil thinks I live on a farm because of this tractor, but it’s just for the lawn. We’ve got a big pond with fish, ducks and a kingfisher. The fish population’s been decimated by an otter, though, which was annoying.

Neil is fond of his tractor

Neil is fond of his tractor

Did you go after said otter with a gun?

I do have a pellet gun, but I couldn’t kill a thing, me. We have rabbits, too, but I haven’t got the heart to shoot them. We got an electric fence to deter the otter. It’s great, our garden. I have an office out there, and at 6am, when the mist is settling, there’s a little Robin – ‘Robs’ – that comes to visit me. I have some special food. I’m trying to train it to eat off my hand, but it hasn’t yet.

What a peaceful image. Let’s change tack. What’s your favourite war? 

I like World War Two. As a boy I loved The Dambusters. I cried my eyes out when the black labrador got killed. And The Bridge on the River Kwai was great. It was definitely an interesting time.

Talking of combat, Graham Poll once told us he’d like to do jiu-jitsu on you down a dark alleyway in Tring. He said, “I’d take my time and enjoy myself immensely.” Any response, Neil?

My friend Graham? That’s all in his imagination. I’ve always said he’s a legend in his own mind. I can’t see him catching me down that alleyway for a start. Bloody hell, I’m 67 and I’m probably still faster than he is. Graham was a top ref but I’m still bitter about that FA Cup semi-final [against Arsenal in 2003]. When he got done for giving a player three yellow cards at the 2006 World Cup, I thought, ‘He understands the pain now.’ Referees don’t feel the hurt like managers do.

Finally, you share a birthday with Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Would you make a good cartel leader?

Oh no, I don’t think so. I don’t like drugs. I’ve never even thought about smoking anything. It wouldn’t be a job for me.

Fair enough. Thanks for chatting!

Thanks.

Neil Warnock launched the Armchair Managers Association as part of TalkTalk TV’s Sky Sports Season Pass. For more details, visit talktalk.co.uk

This feature first appeared in the November 2016 issue of FourFourTwo magazine.

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