Neil Warnock has his say on Middlesbrough doubters ahead of Hull City clash admitting 'it's easy to call me a dinosaur.'
Neil Warnock has been called many things in his time in football but as the 72-year-old winds down towards the end of his four decade-long managerial career the Middlesbrough boss has insisted the grass is ‘not always greener’ having endured a rough start to the season on Teesside.
With the influence of social media it’s not uncommon for fans to voice their opinion on matters before, during and after games these days making life for the likes of Warnock and co much more challenging than during his first foray into management some 40-years ago.
And the Boro manager has come in for increased scrutiny this season as the Teessiders’ indifferent start to the campaign has left them floating around mid-table in the Championship ahead of this afternoon’s meeting with Hull City.
But despite one or two disgruntled calls for Warnock to call time on his spell at the Riverside the Boro boss remains as defiant as ever in his quest to achieve success in the North East.
“In my particular case all I can do is do my best,” he explained.
“I know what I’ve got. I’ve got a good group of lads. If the time comes that Steve [Gibson] thinks it’s time to change things he’ll tell me. All I can do is my best.
“It’s easy to say I’m a dinosaur or it’s dinosaur football. I’m going to be enjoying looking on in the next few years and watching all this fantastic football.
“I sometimes think it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
Warnock added: “I don’t worry about it but you’re always going to get it. I can remember getting stick at Cardiff when we were second in the league going for promotion and there were people saying it was time to change the manager.
“[But] I do feel the majority of fans are right behind me from what I can tell and when I’m talking to people around the town.
“I think in general they know we’ve turned the club around in the time I’ve been here and we’ve got to enjoy it.
“I said to the lads the other night; let’s go and enjoy it. To be manager on a night like that, with a crowd like that, with a pitch like that with the floodlights on. Wow. If you can’t enjoy that there’s something wrong with you.
“Luckily when I first started there was no social media. It was more enjoyable. It’s difficult for managers now. Everybody’s an expert. But I’m very fortunate with Steve. I tell him how it is before and after a game and he’s the most supportive [Chairman] I’ve probably ever had. He was dead chuffed the other night.”
Regardless of Warnock’s battle scarred and thick skin in regards to football management and the baggage it brings with it, the opening weeks of the season have been a head scratcher for the Boro boss as his side have struggled for consistency in the league.
A summer of upheaval saw a number of new faces at the Riverside with the likes of Andraz Sporar, James Lea Siliki and Martin Payero all intriguing international acquisitions.
The aim being these players could help Boro to form part of the play-off picture this campaign but so far that has yet to translate on the pitch before Tuesday’s impressive win over Sheffield United – a result highly regarded as Boro’s best of the season to date.
The hope then for Warnock is that, unlike after victories over Bristol City and Nottingham Forest, his side can finally build up a head of steam going into the second international break of the season.
A trip to Humberside won’t be easy for Boro – the venue of one of Warnock’s most disappointing days in charge at the Riverside – against a Hull side already scrapping for their lives without a home win this season.
Warnock has done his homework and admits his side will need to be ready for the Tigers from the off this afternoon but while we remain just 10 games into the season, with anything and everything still very much possible, it feels like a big opportunity for Boro to put an end to what has been a frustrating start to the season.
Victory for Boro could see them close the gap on the play-off places to just one point should results go in their favour today. Equally, should results go against them and Warnock’s side fail to keep up their end of the bargain Boro could head into the international break just one point above the drop zone such are the Championship’s fine margins.
“Everybody knows why I’m still in the game. I’m still in the game to win things. My biggest disappointment this season is we haven’t got eight or nine more points and be right up there because we quite easily should have been without blowing our own trumpet.
“I never envisioned that certain players would make the mistakes they have done.
“I think it just shows what the leagues about. Whether the glass is half empty or half full.
“We’re four points from the play-offs or four points from relegation. I’m disappointed because I know we should have had results like the other night in three or four games and talking about catching the top two.
“So it’s one of frustration. I suppose the school report would say could do better.”