In defence of….Neil Warnock

Neil Warnock has been trending on Twitter again.

Earlier this season, it followed a typically explosive rant against referee Kevin Stroud in the aftermath of a disallowed goal. Last Friday, it was telling Wolves’ boss Nuno to f*** off on live television.

The general reaction from the Twitterverse is invariably one of mockery – Graham Poll’s derogatory anagram of his name will be mentioned, Mrs Doubtfire memes will be posted.

But the truth is that he has quietly – if you can ever describe anything Neil Warnock does as quiet – assembled the meanest defence in the Championship, and they are currently going toe-to-toe with Fulham and Aston Villa for the second automatic playoff spot.

They’ve conceded 35 goals in 41 games, and picked up 16 clean sheets along the way. You can’t always call it pretty, which is one reason why he’s so disliked by opposition fans.

When a Warnock team hits its sweet spot, it generally involves time wasting, cynical fouls, and their manager ranting and raving at the ‘lino’, or furiously making a ‘long ball’ motion with his arms.

It’s not sophisticated, but football isn’t always supposed to be.

Warnock doesn’t care, though.

He’s achieved seven promotions in his career, and if he can manage his eighth with Cardiff, it will possibly be his greatest, as it will afford him the chance to right, what he believes, was his greatest wrong.

Tevez-gate, as it has inevitably come to be known, still rankles. In 2009, he announced that he was putting in a personal compensation claim against West Ham for fielding Tevez, because “that’s what justice is all about.”

Over ten years on, he still openly admits that he’s bitter about it. It is now part of his make-up, and if in his Cardiff office, Warnock has a dart board with the Argentine striker’s face on it, it wouldn’t be a surprise.

The affair revealed an inferiority complex that rubs people up the wrong way, but the Yorkshireman revels in his underdog status.

“I’d love to get him [Richard Scudamore] in a room on my own for an hour, no holds barred,” he said, years after the fact.

“If it had been a big club [as opposed to Sheffield United], the truth would have come out earlier and it would have been sorted.”

His book was littered with comparisons to Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. He’s desperate to sit at the top table, and West Ham robbed him of that. Which is fair enough, isn’t it?

But in so many ways, he’s the antithesis of the modern day manager who obsesses over stats and slaves over tactics.

During his spell at Leeds, he famously spent midweek at his home in Cornwall, driving his tractor and relaxing on his farm, before returning to Yorkshire in the run-up to match day at the weekend.

In Vincent Tan, another pantomime villain, he’s met his match. The Cardiff fans are behind him, even if Twitter is desperate to see him fail.

You wouldn’t bet against the idea that next time he’s trending, it will be because Cardiff have just been promoted to the Premier League.