The end for Warnock or will game call him back?

Hurting: Ex-Blads boss Neil Warnock will feel the pain of the sack
Hurting: Ex-Blads boss Neil Warnock will feel the pain of the sack
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IT WAS the aftermath of the 1983 Scottish FA Cup Final and the TV cameras were interviewing Aberdeen captain Willie Miller.

Over Miller’s shoulder you could see a man in a blazer, pacing from player to player, fury stamped on his face as he ripped into every man to let him know they had let him down.

When the TV cameras finally got him to stand still his eyes were full of fight as he spat out his feelings.

“That was a disgraceful performance. Our standards were set a long time ago and I’m not going to accept that from any Aberdeen team, absolutely disgraceful.”

An embarrassing, heavy defeat? Last-minute choker? A penalty shoot-out nightmare?

No. This was Alex Ferguson in victory. His team had just become the first side outside Glasgow in the 20th century to retain the Scottish cup.

But winning wasn’t enough. It never is for those driven by desire.

It’s never been enough for Neil Warnock either.

The former Blades manager will be the first to protest that he is no Alex Ferguson and in success terms he isn’t. No-one is close.

But they have something special in common.

That spiky, combative glint, the sharp reply to the ill-considered question are enough to chill the marrow of any reporter.

But the effusive, detailed and fascinating insights into the game that flow when such men open up is worth the occasional short shrift.

You see a bit of it in every football manager but some wear their obsession like armour and Neil Warnock will be hurting after QPR owner Tony Fernandes decided to terminate his contract on Sunday.

“It’s easy to call me an idiot,” the Malaysian businessman said after he sacked Warnock.

“But its harder to make decisions. It may be the wrong one and I’ll be the idiot and I’ll go, but at least I’ll stand up and be counted.”

Neil Warnock will understand those words. He could have said them himself.

He has had to break the news to countless players over the years that they weren’t in his plans any more.

Managers live by their judgement and die by the judgement of others.

A few years ago Neil Warnock wanted the Sheffield United job to be his last. He felt the ecstasy of taking his boyhood team to the Premier League then endured the numbing despair of relegation as acutely as any fan.

But he couldn’t give it up. He went to Crystal Palace and saved them from relegation.

Last summer he sat in his office at Rangers’ Harlington training ground invigorated, full of confidence, looking forward to a season in the Premier League and said the QPR job would probably be his last.

At the age of 63 he has earned his retirement from a hugely succesful managerial career and hinted at it on Sunday: “I’ve been involved in the game a long time and I will be spending the immediate future with my family and friends before deciding my next career move.”

But, like the Alex Ferguson who raged at his players 1983-style after their 3-2 win against Manchester City on Sunday, he may feel he still has unfinished business.

The prospect of cycling around Richmond Park with his wife and children might appeal for a while but the football juices raging in his veins may not let Neil Warnock rest just yet.