Rival boss Mick McCarthy describes him as “a pain in the a*se” but says that’s one of the many reasons why Neil Warnock is the perfect man to be leading Rotherham United’s survival charge.
Warnock got one over his old pal when the Millers beat McCarthy’s Ipswich Town 1-0 earlier this month to move out of the Championship drop zone.
And McCarthy believes Warnock’s motivational skills and ability to influence a match with his antics on the touchline are an object lesson for any manager.
“He’s a pain in the a*se, but he probably thinks I am as well!” McCarthy said. “I say that with a glint in my eye because I like him. I’ve got a lot of time for him. He wants to win and I get that.
“Will it lift the crowd? It won’t do any harm, will it? He’s had a lot of success doing it. That sometimes is a bit calculated, I think, from some of the older managers when they have a pop at the referee. I can honestly say I’ve been guilty of it myself. Sometimes you need to just liven the game up.”
Warnock took charge of Rotherham eight games ago, when they were favourites for relegation, but four wins and a draw in their last five matches have seen them make up eight points on MK Dons and 11 on Fulham to climb to 20th place.
They return to action, after the international break, on Saturday for a sold-out AESSEAL New York Stadium showdown against Steve Evans’ Leeds United.
Few managers can bring the best out of players in the way Warnock can, and McCarthy, who used to clean his boots when they were together as players at Barnsley, is a big fan of the 67-year-old’s methods.
“I was at a League Managers’ Association function recently. It’s not the League Head Coaches’ Association, is it?” he said.
“That, for me, is what it’s about. It’s about managing the club, managing assets, managing people. That is the biggest thing of all, getting the best out of people. That is a skill and it’s not something that everybody has got.
“Some people can take a bag of balls out and put on a training session better than others, but getting the best out of people, for me, is the biggest part of the job.
“He has that ability, that knack, to get teams to run around for him and work hard.”
Warnock had been in retirement before the Millers came calling, but McCarthy reckons you just can’t keep a good man down.
“I texted him to say his missus would kill him for coming back,” he revealed. “He was supposedly retired, but I just can’t see that happening!
“He’s a good character and he’s a mate of mine. I’ve known him for a long time.”