Neil Warnock has taunted Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini by claiming he could not handle the manager’s job at Leeds United as he has only been successful when he has had unlimited financial resources.
By Luke Edwards
Warnock tried to be respectful towards the Italian and admitted he would not relish having to cope with the difficulties Mancini has trying to keep a squad of world-class players happy, but he was also keen to ensure all the pressure is on Leeds’ hosts ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup fifth-round meeting.
Leeds have already beaten three Premier League sides in cup competitions this season – Southampton, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur – and while they travel to the Etihad Stadium as rank outsiders, Warnock is enjoying the role of the plucky underdog.
“People like Roberto Mancini, and I’m not being disrespectful, they need financial support,” said Warnock. “Like [Jose] Mourinho and all them, I don’t think they could manage at Leeds in the current climate, or manage anywhere else other than the top of the top level. That’s the way they are.
“Mind you, I don’t think I’d be able to cope if we did a job swap. I only had six months in the Premier League [at QPR] with the current crop of players and I didn’t enjoy that at all.
“I don’t envy Roberto in his job dealing with 11-12 world-class players who think they should all be in the side and agents who think their players should be in the side.
“They’ve got two teams. That’s a major issue to deal with for managers like that. I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. Good luck to him. If he loses his job at City, it’s not like he’ll be short of offers or money.”
Warnock is from the same generation as Sir Alex Ferguson and he could not disguise his pleasure at seeing the Manchester United manager winning his battle with Mancini this season after losing the title race on goal difference last May.
“They’re under pressure because they’re in second place in the league,” added Warnock. “They’re not going to win the league. They’ve come across the maestro that is Sir Alex Ferguson.
“He’s the only difference because they’re way above the rest of the pack and if it wasn’t for Ferguson they would be right in it. The lesson is that you don’t ruffle his feathers by winning the league, that’s what they’ve found out.”
Although the pressure is off him this weekend, Warnock’s position at Elland Road is also in doubt. Fans chanted “Warnock, Warnock, time to go” during and after Leeds’s 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in midweek, which left the club eight points adrift of the play-off places in the Championship.
But the Yorkshireman insists he is unruffled by the negativity in the stands and suggested his doubters should be careful about what they wish for.
“It’s frustrating for me when, probably the fans don’t realise I’ve been here just a year this week,” he said. “It’s as tough a job as I’ve ever had. I don’t warrant getting stick, but every manager gets it.
“Even at Sheffield United when we were winning, there’d be 300 or 400 always wanting a change. But be careful what you wish for. If you look at the clubs I’ve left, are they in a worse position now?”