Football Psychology: Neil Warnock – Luck!

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Football Psychology‘I thought Palace had a lot of luck last year in staying up. I don’t see us getting a lot of luck this year’. The words of Neil Warnock after his team had fallen to a bad home defeat to Southampton.

So it’s comes as no surprise to hear that Warnock has been relieved of his duties this morning. His luck based assessment of Palace’s form last season suggested a manager fast running out of ideas.

Hurriedly appointed at the start of the season, Warnock’s career will be defined by his success in the Championship. But like Ian Holloway before him, doing well in the Champinship and succeeding in the Premier League are two very different skill sets.

When Steve Parish appointed Warnock in August, he did so on the basis of Warnock’s previous time at the club. Under financial pressure, Warnock did a good job in steadying the ship in 2009. But by his own admission, that was to be his last managerial post.

The lure of QPR’s wealth caused a change of mind, but subsequent sackings at Leeds United and now Palace suggested that he should have heeded his own career advice.

It’s understandable that Warnock would have wanted to end his career by having finally established himself in the Premier League. But to do so, a development in his skill set was called for. Motivating and organizing Championship players is one thing.

But when you pit your wits against the best in the Premier League, that is never enough. You need to manage a range of player ego’s. Be strategically adept and flexible in your tactical thinking. Have a strong support team, that can make training stimulating and interesting for players. Be an invigorating communicator and be able to get into the minds of players of numerous nationalities.

When Tony Pulis left the club in the summer, Steve Parish wanted a safe pair of hands at Selhurst Park. But like a lot of chairman/owners, he failed to employ his critical faculities in clinically assessing his appointment. He let his heart rule his head.

Neil Warnock has been in management for over twenty years. In that time he has failed to demonstrate that he can cut at it the highest level. Steve Parish trusted that Warnock’s emotional connection with Palace would suffice. It didn’t.

Three wins in sixteen games tells it’s own story. Parish recognised Neil Warnock’s strengths. But he failed to take into account his weaknesses. And to ignore the obvious is not a desirable leadership trait!