The Madness Of Leeds United's Neil Warnock: 5 Insane Rants

After being sacked by QPR Colin is back at Leeds United. These five insane rants show that, whatever fans may think, it's not going to be dull at Elland Road...
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After being sacked by QPR Colin is back at Leeds United. These five insane rants show that, whatever fans may think, it's not going to be dull at Elland Road...

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Although he kept his cool in the Premier League, seeing the new Leeds United manager rant on a Championship touchline last year was akin to watching King Lear in local rep. His borderline psychosis is too large – too feral – to be contained within such an environment. It belongs on the big stage. Hell the man is so Hollywood it belongs on the big screen.

Here are our five favourite moments of managerial lunacy from a man who probably argues with himself in his sleep.

Oh Kevin, the betrayal!

Warnock’s old assistant Kevin Blackwell had recently moved across Yorkshire to take charge of Leeds, a ‘defection’ that was predictably viewed as an act of treachery by his mad-as-cheese former boss.

Some months later the two sides met in the league and trench warfare immediately broke out in the opposing dug-outs as insults were hurled and bickering ensued, the match itself becoming almost a side-show.

That was until Sheffield United’s Craig Short and Leeds full-back Gary Kelly clashed in a meaty challenge, prompting Warnock to loudly exclaim, ‘Next time I hope he breaks his fucking leg!’ The fourth official called over Poll who sent an incensed Warnock to the stands. At least that was the plan. Our favourite loon however refused to budge until he was forcibly ejected by a police officer.

Movie Madness – 5/5 A full-scale blow-up this one requiring the force of the law. For the false perception of betrayal and the leg-breaking connotation this can only be Annie Wilkes from Misery.

Some guys you expect to go down fighting. Warnock you expect to go down in a flurry of insanity, paranoia and ill-feeling.

Wally Downes, the big man out of shape. For Warnock madness is a full-time job

During a fiery 3-1 defeat at the Madejski Stadium Warnock was infuriated to see one of his Palace players sent off when it was the home side who appeared to be dishing out most of the rough stuff. Shortly afterwards he visibly, almost comically, made an exaggerated stamping motion to…well here the ambiguity lies. Was it to his players, to encourage them to seek revenge on Steve Sidwell after he’d followed through on Chris Armstrong? Or was it for the benefit of the referee to highlight Sidwell’s challenge? The Reading bench all assumed it was the former and briefly all hell broke loose.

Reading coach Downes, a rotund man clearly out of shape but still a formidable figure, angrily approached Warnock, initially to thump the agitating tool. Separated by a melee of backroom staff he had to instead settle for hurled accusations and a wagging finger.

He said later ‘I was so angry I felt like strangling him. I clearly heard him tell his players on several occasions to ‘do him’’.

Both Warnock and Downes were sent to the stands.

Movie madness – 4/5 Our resident provocateur-in-chief once again comes up with the goods creating carnage - Tony Montana in Scarface.

Serving revenge up cold on Rafa

Some guys you expect to go down fighting. Warnock you expect to go down in a flurry of insanity, paranoia and ill-feeling. So it proved in 2007 when Sheffield United was immersed in a bitter relegation battle. Their rivals for the drop Fulham faced Liverpool needing an unlikely victory to remain safe. Liverpool, with one eye on their forthcoming Champions League final fielded a significantly weakened side. To the immense chagrin of our Neil obviously. Yet at the time, even with his vast reserves of crabby indignity, he was spreading himself too thin with hate. He had his own club’s turmoil’s to deal with, a contract dispute with his chairman, not to mention the protracted West Ham farrago so, like any decent petty lunatic, he stored up the grievance and unleashed it the following year when, in a quirk of fate, Fulham again faced Pool requiring the three points for safety.

In the week leading up the match – a match that did not concern the now out-of-work s**t-stirrer – Warnock pounced, seeking his revenge. He predicted that they would again face a weakened team and, far more seriously, speculated idly about bribery between the Fulham chairman and Liverpool boss. ‘Maybe Rafa gets a yearly hamper from Harrods every year for his team selection?’

Rafa, a man not known for his easy-going, water-off-a-ducks-back tolerance for such matters, threatened legal action and added, ‘We knew he was bad as a manager and prehistoric. But we didn’t know he was a person like this.’ Ah Rafa my old chum, you need only have asked.

Movie madness – 4/5 For firing off slanderous broadsides and refusing to take it anymore - Howard Beale in Network.

Graham Poll, the Arsenal twelfth man

In 2003 Warnock guided his beloved Sheffield United to the semi-finals of the FA Cup where they faced a formidable Arsenal side who had yet to be beaten all season. On a sunny spring day at Old Trafford their task was onerous enough without the unintentional assistance of ‘Three-Card’ Poll. The injustice occurred in the 35th minute. First Blades striker Wayne Allison was clearly fouled as United launched a rare attack. He then lay prone on the deck whilst Poll waved play on. As the Gunners quickly moved the ball upfield Michael Tonge raced back to help out his exposed defence. Seeing that Freddie Ljungberg was unmarked he changed direction, only to clatter into the hapless official. The Swede duly received the ball in space, 1-0 to the Arsenal. Poll compounded his error by smiling broadly as he departed the field at half-time, the intention being to show defiance to the loud fusillade of boos emanating from half the ground. The wide grin however only sent Warnock into, what Poll himself later described as, ‘a vein-popping apoplectic frenzy’.

Not surprisingly the post-match interview was a veritable gold-mine for rant enthusiasts, Warnock attesting that the ‘Thing from Tring’ had been Arsenal’s ‘best midfielder’, a remark that earned him a four-match touchline ban from the F.A.

Movie madness – 3/5 For taking on the authorities with a sarcastic sneer - Alex de Large in A Clockwork Orange

Usually Warnock’s perceived slights are entirely personal and often confounding. They spew forth from twisted bowels after festering deep within for some considerable time.

El-Hadj Diouf, the ‘sewer rat’

A broken clock tells the right time twice a day and a raving lunatic occasionally has a point.

Usually Warnock’s perceived slights are entirely personal and often confounding. They spew forth from twisted bowels after festering deep within for some considerable time.

Not in this instance; a rare occurrence of the QPR gaffer speaking instinctively and from the heart and, uniquely, airing thoughts shared by the entire nation. For one glorious minute, he was our spokesman.

Following a disgraceful leg-break by the posterboy for c**** El-Hadj Diouf on one of his players during an FA Cup tie against Blackburn Warnock spoke with almost calm, admirable restraint. Yet each word was laced with pure arsenic.

Movie madness – 3/5 For rather fabulously evoking karmic justice upon Diouf and therefore believing he controls exterior forces – John Forbes Nash in A Beautiful Mind.

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