Neil Warnock is back in charge at Huddersfield Town, 27 years on from his first spell as manager. Warnock, 74, who has managed 16 different clubs over five decades, has come out of retirement (again) and has just 16 matches to save second-bottom Town from relegation to League One.
Huddersfield Hub sports editor and Town fan STEVEN DOWNES explains why there was only one man for the job.
There used to be an 80s TV show called Knight Rider where the main slogan was ‘one man can make a difference’ and that phrase certainly applies to the re-appointment of Neil Warnock.
The statement made by Warnock’s appointment is the most important the club has made in six years. As a club, we find ourselves in the depths of a difficult situation, one in which we needed an experienced leader, with nous, bottle, fight and spirit.
That is what we now have, that one man who has scooped up the fanbase and got us believing again. He will make the difference.
Behind the scenes things are still uncertain and our future off the pitch is precarious, however with Warnock you feel like there’s a way out. Relegation isn’t the bleak inevitability it seemed on Saturday night.
Town’s winter of discontent under the hapless and bullish Mark Fotheringham needed to come to an end. The Scot’s tenure will be remembered for soundbites rather than joyful performances.
Unlike the sad dismissal of Danny Schofield, which had to be done, Fotheringham’s sacking was not just called for but demanded. He was a complex character and it was difficult to process his constant rollercoaster of emotions, his inability to stabilise a dressing room nose diving to League One and to understand his lack of clarity to move the club forward on the pitch.
All this eventually led to his inevitable downfall.
Warnock’s appointment is the Terriers’ last chance, he is our last, best hope and it’s his last dance. Well, probably.
When I went to his ‘an evening with’ event at Huddersfield Town Hall in September I couldn’t have imagined he’d be our manager just a few months later. His passion and never-say-die attitude is what we need. Neil has always had a soft spot for Town and our fans. That much was clear.
Having managed us between 1993 and 1995 he was at the club when the new stadium was built, then called the McAlpine Stadium.
Warnock took the club to Wembley twice in his tenure. The first time was for the final of the 1994 Football League Trophy when we lost to Swansea on penalties.
However it was the first visit to the home of English football for the club since the 1930s. That final defeat spurred him on and the team too as we reached the 1995 play-off final the following season.
Goals from Chris Billy and Andy Booth meant the Terriers were promoted to the First Division, the second tier of English football. Warnock left that summer and went on to have a quite unbelievable career.
Now he’s back at the age of 74 and wants one last dance to help save a club that truly means a lot to him.
Currently we are 23rd in the Championship one point from safety, with the bottom few teams still in sight. We have every chance to turn things around. Narcis Pelach will take the game against Stoke on Wednesday and then it’s up to Warnock to do his thing.
In my view it was simply the only choice the club could have made. As fans, let’s put the sale of the club to the back of our minds and make the last 16 fixtures of this season hell on earth for our opponents.
If Warnock’s most famous phrase was ever needing to be true – and let’s hope the players are sitting up and taking notice – it’s this: ‘YOU’VE GOT TO DIE TO GET THREE POINTS.’
Neil, we are behind you, we will sing from minute one to 90, give us one last piece of magic and then enjoy your retirement on your tractor in Cornwall.
As one famous commentator once said: “They think it’s all over…” The difference here is, it isn’t just yet.
COME ON TOWN!!