The on and off-field reasons why Middlesbrough fans should be encouraged that Neil Warnock has signed a new contract
Neil Warnock didn’t need to stay at Middlesbrough – in fact he didn’t have to take the job in the first place.
For most, a career which includes eight promotions, spells in the Premier League and more than 1,500 games in management would represent a job well done.
Yet, at 72, Warnock has agreed to stay on as Boro boss for the 2021/22 campaign – his passion for the game still as strong as ever.
After the news broke on Thursday morning, Warnock held an hour-long press conference and spoke excitedly about the prospect of fans returning next season.
"I am hoping next season we can get the Riverside full,” he said.
"Season tickets are on sale now and even fans who maybe haven’t been for years, I want them to dust off the cobwebs and come and enjoy it with us.”
Despite not being able to attend games, Boro supporters have taken to Warnock, who has provided a lift with his often upbeat press conferences and meetings with supporter groups via Zoom.
His decision to stay will be a popular one on Teesside.
On the pitch, Warnock has transformed Boro from a side struggling to avoid relegation to a team which has been competing for a play-off place in the space of eight months.
With 12 games to go and six points separating Boro and the top six, Warnock concedes it’s unlikely the Teessiders will claim promotion this season, even if he isn’t giving up hope.
But with a young group of players who have improved significantly this term, the Boro boss has good reason to be optimistic.
With the likes of Dael Fry, Paddy McNair, Anfernee Dijksteel, Marc Bola and Marcus Tavernier, to name just a few, reaching their prime, the future certainly looks bright on Teesside.
If Warnock had decided to move on, it would have been difficult for chairman Steve Gibson to find someone better equipped to mount a serious promotion challenge.
Some may question the manager’s style of football at times and there will be games, like in the first half against Coventry, when Boro have to roll their sleeves up and dig out a result.
That is just the nature of the Championship, though, and Warnock does encourage his sides to play in the right areas, while also integrating attacking players such as January signings Yannick Bolasie, Neeskens Kebano and Nathanial Mendez-Laing.
With Warnock at the helm, Boro are in safe hands. He doesn’t believe the squad will need many new additions this summer if they do remain in the Championship.
And at a time when finances are being closely monitored across the EFL, Warnock’s reputation and contacts are likely to prove advantageous in the transfer market.
The Boro boss says he wants everyone to enjoy the ride next year, but he also wants to give supporters something to remember after a challenging year.
He wants to help Steve Gibson and the club and have, in his words, ‘one more go.’
Warnock didn’t need to sign a new deal yet the temptation was simply too much to turn down.
And when he got the green light from his wife Sharon, there was only one outcome. Another year at least.