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Warnock: In Profile

27 August 2014

After Neil Warnock’s return to Crystal Palace Football Club was confirmed earlier today, takes a detailed look back at his career. 

Following a playing career that saw him turn out for clubs mainly in the north of England including Chesterfield, Rotherham United, Hartlepool United, Barnsley and York City, Warnock hung up his boots at the relatively early age of 30 to focus on becoming a coach. 

His first steps into management came at Northern Premier League side Gainsborough Trinity in 1980, before moving on to fellow non-league outfits Burton Albion and Scarborough, who Warnock led to the Football Conference title in 1987. 

Late the following year, Warnock was appointed as manager of then-Third Division club Notts County, but he masterminded back-to-back promotions to see then reach the top tier of English football ahead of the start of the 1991/92 campaign. 

The Magpies were relegated at the end of that term though, costing the club a place in the inaugural Premier League season, and Warnock was ultimately dismissed from his post at the County Ground in January 1993. 

The Yorkshireman became a ‘consultant’ at Torquay United two months later and helped the Gulls avoid relegation from the Football League, before returning to his home county with Huddersfield Town. 

Warnock brought in a host of new faces and the Terriers’ first season at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium coincided with a Division Two promotion push. The club missed out on the automatic berths, but defeated second-placed Brentford over two legs in the semi-final before edging out Bristol Rovers in the Wembley final. 

A shock departure from Huddersfield followed just days after their promotion, but he repeated the trick at Plymouth Argyle in May 1996 before short stints at Oldham Athletic and Bury.

By December 1999, Warnock was appointed as manager of his boyhood club Sheffield United, where he would enjoy eight successful years. 

In 2002/03, he led the Blades to the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and the League Cup, only to lose out to Liverpool and Arsenal respectively, but his main focus remained on the league – although they would ultimately come up short again that season in the play-off final defeat to Wolves.

By the end of the 2005/06 season though, Warnock was finally able to celebrate another promotion as he led United to a 2nd place finish in the Championship to guide the Blades back into the Premier League.

They had long looked like staying in the big time the following season, before a late slump in form – combined with the controversial impact of Carlos Tevez at West Ham United – saw the Blades relegated on the final day of the season after a 2-1 home loss at the hands of fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic. 

Warnock departed Bramall Lane following that final day heartbreak, but wasn’t out of football for long before Crystal Palace came calling in October 2007. 

The Eagles were transformed from relegation candidates to promotion contenders in a matter of months as Palace snuck into the play-off places, only to lose out to Bristol City at the semi-final stage. 

Behind the scenes, the club’s finances were taking a turn for the worse and late in the 2009/10 season, with Palace in administration, Warnock left to take the vacant manager’s position at Queens Park Rangers.

He helped the Hoops avoid relegation from the Championship in May 2010, with a 2-0 win over Palace at Selhurst helping them along the way. 

The following season, Warnock again turned a struggling side into a successful one, leading QPR to promotion as champions of the Championship by April 2011, only to be sacked by January the following year with the club struggling in the Premier League. 

Again, Warnock’s absence from the game was short one, as just one month later, he was named as the new boss at Leeds United, but he departed Elland Road by April 2013 having not been able to add to his impressive haul of promotions. 

Despite an extended break from football, Warnock has kept a close eye on the Premier League as part of his roles as a TV pundit on BT Sport and a columnist in The Guardian, but has now returned to frontline management for a second stint in SE25.  

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