Sheffield United: Former boss speaks-out

Neil Warnock (right) earlier this year
Neil Warnock (right) earlier this year
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Neil Warnock today explained why he is no longer in the running to become Sheffield Wednesday’s next manager.

Warnock, who spent eight years in charge of arch-rivals Sheffield United before joining Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds, told The Star his presence could have divided the Hillsborough support at a critical moment in the club’s season.

“I considered the job out of respect for their chairman Milan (Mandaric),” Warnock said. “He’s someone that I have a lot of admiration for and we’ve spoken about three or four times in the past about the possibility of working together.

“I think I could definitely done the job and, if I’m honest, I think I would have kept them up. But I spoke to Milan and told him that, on reflection, I think it would have been impossible for me, who everyone knows is a Blade, to take it.

“It’s a time when the whole club needs to be together although, I must say, what has been very heartening is some of the messages I’ve had from Wednesday fans saying that they would have liked me to go there.

“Yes, there has been some vitriolic ones. There’s no point in denying that. But, by and large, people were positive.”

Warnock steered United into the semi-finals of both the League and FA cups during his tenure and Bramall Lane before securing promotion to the Premier League in 2006. He departed soon after their controversial relegation following the Carlos Tevez Affair which later saw United awarded £20m in compensation.

“If I’d have gone to Wednesday I’d still have been a Blade,” Warnock said. “You don’t change the club you support, every football fan knows that.

“But football is my profession and that means I will give 100 per cent to any job I have within the game. It wouldn’t have changed how I feel about Sheffield United but that wouldn’t have meant that I’d have given any less to Sheffield Wednesday either.”

Warnock, revealing he offered his services to United following Danny Wilson’s departure in April before approaching them again on the eve of last season’s League One play-offs, added: “I’ve heard a lot of people saying that I only entertained the Wednesday job because I wanted to prove some sort of point to the people at United. That’s not the case at all.

“Yes, I’m not going to deny that I was disappointed they didn’t take me up on that. I really wanted to help out at what was an important time.

“But that’s not what was behind this. That’s just not true at all.”

“Listen, I’m a Sheffield United fan,” Warnock added. “But I remember when we were getting 33,000 people going to the derby games and, because I’m from the city, I want to see those times back again as soon as possible.

“That’s what football in Sheffield should be all about. These two clubs shouldn’t be where they are the moment, I don’t think anyone connected with them likes to see it.

“Like every fan, I just want to see those times when the place was buzzing before derbies come back as quickly as possible.”

Warnock, aged 65, first explored the possibility of joining Wednesday soon after Dave Jones was sacked following last weekend’s defeat by Blackpool. However, although they remain in the relegation zone, Tuesday night’s victory over leaders Leicester City means Wednesday now trail 21st placed Charlton Athletic by only three points.

“I told Milan that result has bought him a bit of time,” Warnock continued. “He’ll have had a lot more emails from people after that and he can sift through all of those and consider his next move.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1