Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Neil down and cry

RAFAEL BENITEZ is hardly a heart on the sleeve kind of guy. Let's be honest, even the smile he managed when Liverpool lifted their fifth European Cup looked a bit forced.

But I wondered if the smallest smirk crept across his face as it was confirmed Neil Warnock will be staying where he belongs for another season - in the Championship.

This magnificent manager, if you believe him that is, was cruelly denied the chance of taking Crystal Palace to Wembley for the play-off final.

And no doubt that will be Rafa's fault. Or maybe Gerard Houllier's. Or Stephane Henchoz's. Or Phil Thompson's. Basically, anyone's fault - but not Neil Warnock's.

This is the man who STILL blames Benitez for relegating Sheffield United.

That reason again? Because Rafa rested players for a match at Fulham last season. And by influencing that ONE GAME, Sheffield United played crap for 38 games and went down. Not Neil Warnock's fault, though.

Even as a Championship manager (unfortunately not the computer game, amazingly this man has a real job) Warnock got involved again this season, raking the same ground and telling Gary Megson not to expect any favours from Liverpool.

Not only that, he decided to throw a potential libel into the mix, making an ill-advised 'joke' about Harrods hampers being sent to Benitez, with Fulham owned by Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed.

For good measure he also added: "I’m still very bitter about it and personally I hope Liverpool never win another trophy under Benitez. I like them as a club but I would be very pleased to see them win nothing.”

Thanks for that. Well, the feeling's mutual, Neil.

So how pleasing to see the dead-ringer for Mrs Doubtfire fail in the play-offs.

And guess what - that wasn't his fault. Oh no. That was nasty Bristol City's fault. How dare they win. How dare they celebrate.

After losing the first leg, Doubtfire moaned: "I think you could see from their celebrations that they were already at Wembley. I didn't think much of their celebrations to be honest.

"There was no need for them to go off like they did. They're 2-1 up but celebrations should be kept until you are through. Football has a habit of getting you back."

How true. Because, as it turned out, with most of Britain urging them on, Bristol knocked out Warnock's Palace.

And how did he take it? Graciously? First to congratulate the opposition? As if. "I applauded Michael McIndoe's free-kick but I thought we were the better side and I couldn't be any prouder of my lads," he said.

While working in Manchester once, a colleague told me that in Bury, Neil Warnock is known as "Billy Bullshit".

Couldn't have put it better myself.