Football News

Neil Warnock “made tactical decisions based on his wife’s dreams” (and they often worked)

By Ben Green

Neil Warnock made tactical decisions based on dreams his wife had (and they often worked)

Published: 12:35, 30 September 2022

Two of Neil Warnock’s former players have revealed the bizarre tactical decisions the Yorkshire coach made based on dreams his wife had.

The 73-year-old is one of the most recognisable faces in the English game having enjoyed a succesful career in the dugout that spanned four decades.

A serial promotion-achiever, Warnock memorably had stints at Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, Cardiff City, QPR and Leeds United.

His most recent spell came at Middlesbrough between 2020 and 2021, and in April this year he announced his retirement from the sport, ending 42 drama-fuelled and succesful years on the touchline.


Neil Warnock’s “insane” tactical blueprint


Some of his most famous achievements include guiding Sheff Utd, QPR and Cardiff to the Premier League, as well as helping prevent Crystal Palace tumbling down to League One despite being hamstrung in the market by serious financial difficulties, which culminated in the club entering administration in 2010.

Despite keeping Palace afloat in a precarious period for the club, many fans remember him, not just for those Championship-retaining heroics, but also for turning a “fringe” right-back into peak Alan Shearer during a freak six-minute spell in a random FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Darren Ambrose, who scored 20 goals for Palace during that 2009/10 season, has now spoken about the bizarre series of events. Having drawn 2-2 with Wolves in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Molineux, the game went to a replay at Selhurst Park — and it’s one that has since gone down in Palace folklore.

Warnock decided to move then right-back Danny Butterfield up front… and in just six minutes he netted a ‘perfect’ hat-trick. The unglamorous defender netted only 14 times in 569 games during his career, but against Wolves he went full Shearer — and Ambrose has now spoken about the strange way the whole spectacle unfolded.

He told talkSPORT: “Apart from Sir Bobby, he was my favourite manager, honestly, such a great guy.

“I was known as the son of [Warnock] I’ve got many stories. Him cutting my toenails… he was a qualified chiropodist!

“We also got a draw away at Wolves and he came in and said, ‘My wife Sharon, she had a dream last night,’ no one really laughed because that was what he was like.

“He said, ‘She dreamt that my right-back scores the winning goal today’, So he said, ‘Danny Butterfield, you’re playing up front’.

“He wasn’t even the right-back at the time, he was a fringe player because Nathaniel Clyne was playing.


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“We all started laughing then and he was like, ‘No I’m being serious’. I was taking kick-off with him and I was looking over to the bench thinking, ‘Gaffer is this a joke? Put him back to right-back’.

“I think about 12 minutes later he had a perfect hat-trick, Butterfield. We won 3-1. Left foot, right foot, header – every team talk after that all the fringe players were saying, ‘Gaffer has Sharon had a dream last night? Am I in the team, am I going to score?’

“The guy was insane. Old school. If it was raining he’d bring his umbrella in and pull me aside, always the Gaffer’s son.”


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Ambrose’s comments led another of Warnock’s former players, Paul Ifill, to give his own account about how the veteran tactician took heed from his wife’s prescient night-time visions.

“I’ve been telling people about his wife’s dreams for years!” Ifill wrote on Twitter. “He once dropped me because of her dream the night before the Sheffield derby. He replaced me with Alan Quinn who scored the only goal! Madness.”

Ifill added: “I was fuming and was gonna go in on the Monday to have a moan up but his missus had nailed it! I just had to eat my sh*t sandwich!”

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