David Preece: The brilliance of Neil Warnock in that infamous Sheffield United documentary and why I had no regrets over Sunderland's own Premier Passions

As if we don’t spend enough time watching football, we’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about it too.

By David Preece
Thursday, 20th February 2020, 5:33 pm

And when I say “we” I mean myself and our Head of Recruitment, Brian Wake.

When you’re living on your own a thousand miles away from your family, when you finally go back to an empty apartment when the day is over it doesn’t feel like coming home should.

Before you get the violins out and play them for me in sympathy, this is the bed I’ve made for myself and I quite literally have to lie in it.

Former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock.

A year is enough to be doing it for though, so now I have taken to squatting at Wakey’s place where we can watch and dissect games together.

We’ve stopped short of wearing matching pyjamas but it’s as close to the sketches of Morecambe and Wise at home as you’ll get except with a top level game from Kosovo on the TV and the kettle is never left unused enough for it to get cold.

I’m proud to announce that we are now Mr and Mrs Football.

Ours is the kind of relationship that often blooms in football. You spend everyday in each others pockets, accelerating the bond. Especially in a place like Östersunds; a remote and tight knit club.

That said, there really isn’t any room for people to not get along.

As it stands now, the football staff consists of three Englishman (us two and manager Ian Burchnall), a Spaniard (Rafa Roldan) and a Bosnia born Croat (Pero Kapsevic), which might sound like the first line of a very obtuse joke but it works and the troubles we’ve endured have only brought us closer together.

Success builds close connections but as I experienced as a player, adversity either makes you or breaks you and the one thing that helps with making you is a healthy dose of gallows humour.

The old saying 'If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry' couldn’t have been more appropriately aired than in our office over the past 12 months and whilst we’re still here looking forward to the Swedish Cup starting this weekend, there’s still a need to crack jokes that sometimes cut too close to the bone. But that’s to be continued.

So when we aren’t searching the dark parts of our souls for something funny, we’re at home on Wakey’s sofa watching football and drinking tea.

Conversation wanders down many paths but we inevitably end up discussing the form of Wakey’s team - Middlesbrough.

He’s a Stockton lad and loves The Boro, yet there’s another love in his life, a love I have found a place in my heart for too.

It’s Neil Warnock. And in particular, the James Richardson narrated documentary 'Warnock', which documented Sheffield United’s 2004-05 season.

Now we’ve watched almost every great football documentary there is to watch over these past two months including the incredible Orient; Club For A Fiver with the infamous John Sitton’s 'and you can bring your dinner as well' rant, Big Ron Manager, The impossible Job, The Four Year Plan and Bobby Robson: More than a manager, but none tickle us as much as Warnock.

The quotes from each one has turned our office into a version of The Fast Show starring Graham Taylor and Neil Warnock. Every one of them absolute gold and you haven’t watched them, I plead that you do.

I know that some of these fly on the wall documentaries are car crashes and it can be difficult to act natural but that’s just because that can be the reality of these crisis situations.

The best ones show the brutal realities of the game and reveals the true rawness of pressure situations.

I’ve been involved in two myself, Premier Passions of course, and one when I was at Silkeborg that followed us for six months and whilst both ended in relegation, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or any later regret about doing them.

In fact, we were approached about doing one at the start of last season. Regrettably for potential viewers and perhaps fortunately for me, the opportunity was turned down. Now that would have been worth watching.

It’s a little quieter on the northern front here right now but I’m thinking of pitching a Morecambe and Wise/Odd Couple type of show to production companies following me and my football wife here.

So if there are any takers out there who like the idea, you know where to find me.