Spring time at last.
The Grand National is run, FA Cup finalists sorted, snooker back at the Crucible.
And as certain as the cuckoo call (when did anyone last hear one of those?) and snow in April, Neil Warnock is heading for promotion. Yet again.
He might be 70 this year and he may be on his umpteenth ‘last challenge before retirement’ but he’s in the mix. If he gets Cardiff City to the Premier League it will be his eighth promotion, a record in English football and one that goes back 31 years to when he took Scarborough up to the fourth Division.
Cardiff were in the relegation zone when he took over in October 2016, now they are two wins away from automatic promotion. Despite his successes Warnock has never managed a top six club - though he famously turned down a pre-Abramovich Chelsea to stay loyal to Notts County in 1992.
He was sacked six months later.
Social media was buzzing after Arsene Wenger announced his Arsenal ‘retirement’ and journalist and former Sheffield student Tom Carnduff had Twitter all a flutter with his tongue-in-cheek spoof Warnock post above the Wenger to quit announcement: ‘...and I said to Sharon, I said Sharon, I’ve got one more challenge in me’.
All made up of course but catches the moment nicely. It won’t happen but it would have been a fascinating combination a few years ago and one Warnock’s untouchable track record has probably deserved over the years.
Warnock’s first love and former club Sheffield United look about to miss out on the play-offs after a lean spell but two wins to finish could still do it.
Credit to manager Chris Wilder for getting his newly-promoted side this close AND playing committed, exciting football. It will be interesting to see how the Blades do next season when their promotion impetus has passed and the division is more used to their style.
Unless they go up of course…
Wednesday’s much-maligned coach Jos Luhukay also deserves some credit for steadying the ship of late and three wins in five means the club can start to plan for next season and out how to make results match financial outlay.
Lots to do at Hillsborough over the summer.
Historically Wednesday know all about the corrosive weight of debt and owner Dejphon Chansiri will be looking for a better return on his investment next season.
No matter who’s picking the team.