'I never thought I’d turn Manchester United vs West Ham off and watch Friends’ says Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock says the sooner fans can return to football matches the better, as it’s impacting the enjoyment of games.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:55 am

Neil Warnock says the sooner fans can return to football matches the better, as it’s impacting the enjoyment of games.

This season’s schedule has been relentless due to a delayed start to the 2020/21 campaign.

Matches have continued to be played behind closed doors amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but the standards have noticeably dropped in some fixtures due to various factors.

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Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock.

When asked by the Mail about the quality of this season, Warnock replied: “It’s hard to say, isn't it. I never thought I’d turn Man United vs West Ham off and watch Friends, but it didn’t do anything for me yesterday at all.

“No crowds at Old Trafford, very sort of negative. I didn’t enjoy it one bit me, so I turned it off and watched another programme.

“There’s nothing we can do about it but it’s just a different game when there’s no fans so the sooner they’re back the better really because I think we do need them.”

Middlesbrough are preparing for games against Preston and Millwall this week and Warnock says he’s been keeping an eye on some players due to the congested fixture list.

Jonny Howson, 32, and Grant Hall, 29, have both missed parts of the season through injury, while George Saville and Paddy McNair have regularly played for Northern Ireland.

“We’ve had to watch the older lads, like Jonny Howson and Grant,” added Warnock. “We’ve had to stress it to them because they all want to train every minute of the day and we’ve just said to them when we have so many games you’ve got to be a little bit careful.

“Yes you don’t want to let anyone down and you have to train but you have to think about your own body and sometimes you need a rest.

“Although Johnny and Grant want to do everything, we’ve had to pull them out at times, especially when we have three games in a week.

“Then we have this stupid thing coming up with the international break, Northern Ireland playing Wednesday night in Ireland and we’ve got Bournemouth away on a Friday afternoon.

“I don’t understand that, unless the people doing the fixtures are Bournemouth fans. I don’t know how that’s come about.”

Warnock is also advised about when players need a rest based on their running stats and data.

But with years of experience behind him, the Boro boss has also learnt to make decisions based on his own instincts.

“The stats are vitally important these days, who has done so many minutes,” added Warnock.

“At my age you also have a feeling. I probably give the lads more time off than any manager really.

“I read somewhere at one club they were saying they’re not training enough, they don’t do this but that’s a load of rubbish.

“Players all look after themselves and if they’re not doing well they blame everything but themselves.

“They never look in the mirror, it’s always the manager, the pitch, the ball, the opponents, it’s never their fault.”

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