Phil Hay talks exclusively to Neil Warnock About his ambition to become a part time director of football after leaving Leeds United.
Neil Warnock intends to delay his retirement and seek a job as a part-time director of football with another club when his reign as Leeds United manager ends.
Warnock, 64, said the prospect of quitting the game was sitting uncomfortably with him as he faced up to what is likely to be the closing chapter of his tenure at Elland Road.
The former Sheffield United coach is out of contract in June and certain to leave his post if Leeds fall short of promotion from the Championship in his first full season as boss.
Warnock came to the club in February of last year as Leeds’ permanent replacement for Simon Grayson, and he indicated at the outset that he would retire from football this summer with his 65th birthday falling in December and Warnock anxious to commit more time to his family.
His position at Elland Road has come under scrutiny in the past week-and-a-half after a spate of poor Championship results prompted Warnock to admit that he would walk away from Leeds if promotion failed to materialise.
He also revealed that he was willing to vacate his job at an earlier date should club owner GFH Capital opt to replace him swiftly.
But Warnock admitted that divorcing himself from football completely would be difficult, and asked if he was ready for that scenario, he said: “I don’t think so.
“I fancy helping a younger manager out or something like that. I’d like to be a go-between.
“I don’t think there’s much liaison between boards of directors and managers.
“It’s them and us and that would be an opportunity for me to use my experience – without screaming at referees and linesman every Saturday.
“I’ll still keep my hand in. I won’t be able to leave it. I’ve got quite a bit of media stuff to do but I enjoy the cut and thrust. It’s just that a lot of managers have nothing else but football in their lives. I’ve got a fabulous family, a young wife, young kids and older kids.
“But there’s a role to be played by someone like me at every level of the game, not just the top level, and it’s not all about finance. It’s about the running of the club.
“A lot of the decisions that managers have to make, you can’t learn about them on a course at Warwick University.
“It comes down to about talking to people about their experiences and their problems because we all have problems.
“We all have good times and bad times and we all get the sack at some stage. What matters is how you deal with these things.”
Warnock’s immediate future as manager of Leeds was in doubt for 24 hours after he reacted to an FA Cup defeat at Manchester City last Sunday by voicing his intention to part company with United at the end of his contract.
Mounting criticism of him by the club’s supporters came to a head during the fifth-round tie at the Etihad Stadium.
A scheduled board meeting took place at Elland Road the following morning but Leeds did not react to an apparent invitation to pay-off their manager and his backroom staff, and a 2-0 victory over Blackpool on Wednesday night unexpectedly re-enforced his position by dragging United back into contention for a Championship play-off place.
United have been reticent about their plans for Warnock, though GFH Capital executive and club director Salem Patel said this week: “Neil knows that his contract’s up at the end of the season, we know his contract’s up at the end of the season and if the club aren’t promoted then that’s the way the situation is going to stay.
“What I would say is that he’s been working in some very difficult circumstances and some of the criticism of him is slightly unfair.
“We really need to get behind him and the team. The possibility of making the play-offs hasn’t gone.
“In the long term, when Neil goes – and we all know it’s a when – we will look to bring the right man in to take the club forward.
“I can absolutely confirm that the club has not spoken to any other person with regards to the manager’s job.”
One of the leading contenders for Warnock’s post – Nigel Adkins – is technically unavailable at present having been placed on gardening leave following his sacking by Southampton last month. Sources close to him say he is taken by the profile and stature of Leeds but would require assurances about the club’s ambition and stability under GFH Capital. Warnock, however, is increasingly likely to see through most of the Championship run-in before a decision on his next move presents himself.
He rejected the idea of remaining at Elland Road in a more senior capacity, saying he wished to be closer to his family in Cornwall.
Warnock has spent much time away from them in the past 12 months and claimed his improved mood during the half-term week – a break in which they travelled to visit him in Yorkshire – was “no coincidence.”
Warnock said: “I’d only be wanting to work one or two days a week, not a full-time role.
“I wouldn’t do it full-time because I might as well stop on as a manager if I was.
“But a couple of days in a situation that appeals to me, not just for the sake of it. I’d like that.
“When the whistle went the other night (after United’s win over Blackpool), the adrenalin rush when we beat Tottenham – it’s very difficult to know where you’re going to get that from when you call it a day. I just want something at the back of my mind that I can do and be successful at, as and when I do call it a day.”